For instance, RSPCA Free-Range Chicken guidelines stipulate that the bird must have access to an outdoor area for at least six hours a day and must have at least 2 square feet of outdoor space. This outdoor space does not need to have any living vegetation for them to explore/eat. They also have guidelines for how the birds are treated when they are locked inside for example density rates, lighting, ventilation etc.
So how does that differ from what we do, how is pasture raised different from free range? Our birds are raised on open grassy box gum woodlands and we are accredited by PROOF (Pasture Raised On Open Fields). Once our birds are old enough to have their adult feathers and therefor can regulate their own body temperatures, they are allowed to roam free 24/7. They do have shelters that are available to them if they choose to use them. However, we find they only really choose to use them if the weather is bad, to get out of the rain or the wind. The key difference is they are not required to be locked in at night, which is why we have our maremma dogs to protect them from predators. The benefit of this is that it allows for them to follow their natural body clock and forage when it feels right to them, not just when they are let out. The woodland areas they live in, are large paddocks filled with plenty grasses, trees and bugs for them to forage, graze and explore. They are provided with grain to supplement their diet, however unlike other companies this is also stored outside of their shelters so they remain encouraged to stay out and about. Our shelters are designed to be moved easily, so we can regularly move the chickens to new paddocks providing fresh grasslands just like we do with our sheep and cattle, giving our soils time to rest and regenerate. Each paddock is roughly around 5 hectares (50,000 meters squared), so there is well and truly enough space for all of our birds and then some, as well as plenty of space for our dogs to run around.