Could sleeping with chickens ward off mosquito-borne malaria? © Getty Images

How free-range are free-range chickens?

Not quite a free-range as you might think.

Asked by: Emma Spratley, Newcastle-under-Lyme


UK regulations require free-range poultry to have access to the outside during daylight hours via ‘popholes’. Each bird needs to have at least 4m2 of outside space. The indoor barn where the birds perch and lay eggs can have up to nine birds per square metre.

EU organic standards require lower densities of six birds per square metre in the barns, and maximum flock numbers of 3,000 birds. Under certain organic standards, beak trimming is not permitted, but this is allowed with free-range hens.

Does evolution explain whether the chicken or egg came first? © Getty Images


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun facts.