Is Grass-Fed Chicken a Thing?

Acabonac Farms |

You've probably heard of grass fed beef. And you might have even encountered products or labels boasting grass fed chicken. But here's the truth: the term grass fed chicken is a misnomer, and we want to set the record straight.

The Natural Diet for Chickens

You might be wondering, are chickens omnivores or herbivores? Unlike cattle which are natural herbivores and thrive on a diet of grass, chickens are omnivores. This means chickens have a diverse diet including seeds, insects, worms, and yes, even some grass! But, to label a chicken as purely grass fed would not only be an oversimplification of their dietary habits and their natural inclination to forage; it would be incorrect and misleading.

What Do Pasture-Raised Chickens Eat?

When chickens are allowed to roam freely on the pasture, as they do at Acabonac Farms, their day consists of pecking and scratching the ground, searching for bugs, seeds, and small worms. They'll occasionally nibble on green shoots and leaves, but it's these proteins - the bugs and worms - that form a significant part of their diet.

pasture raised chicken

The insects that chickens eat are essential for their nutrition. They provide chickens with the necessary proteins, fats, and other nutrients that they could never get from grass alone. This diverse diet is what gives our pasture raised chicken its distinctive flavor, texture, and enhanced nutritional profile.

Beyond the insects, worms and grass found on our pastures, our chickens always have non-GMO grain based feed available to supplement their diets. Even though our pastures offer a bounty of forage, there are still nutritional gaps that need to be filled to ensure the chicken's health. Chicken feed is specially formulated to provide a well-rounded diet, supplying essential nutrients that might be limited or inconsistent in natural forage.

Supplemental feeding also helps reduce pressure on the pasture. If our chickens were entirely reliant on foraging, they could overwork the pasture, leading to depletion of resources. Supplementing with feed reduces the pressure on the land, allowing it to regenerate and sustain itself.

So, Is Grass-Fed Chicken a Thing?

There's no such thing as grass-fed chicken! The rise in popularity of grass fed beef has brought with it an increased awareness of the benefits of pasture raised animals. Through overexcited marketing departments this has led to the terminology being applied across the board, even to animals where it doesn’t fit. And while the intentions might be to signify a more natural, free-roaming environment for the chickens, the term grass fed is misleading for chickens.

What Should You Look for When Buying Chicken?

Rather than looking for grass fed labels when buying chicken, it's more accurate and informative to look for pasture raised chicken, like the chicken we raise at Acabonac. This provides a clearer picture of the living conditions and diets of the chickens.

What is Pasture-Raised?

Pasture-raised means that the chickens were raised on a pasture and have access to their natural diet. This not only ensures a better quality of life for the birds but also results in meat that's richer in certain nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, due to this natural diet. Understanding how to cook pasture-raised chicken can help you maximize these nutritional benefits and enjoy the enhanced flavors that come from their varied diet.

While grass fed chicken might be a catchy term in the world of health foods and farming, it's essential to know what it really means for the food on your plate. Chickens are natural foragers and omnivores, and their diet goes way beyond just grass. When you choose to buy whole chicken or any other fresh chicken products from Acabonac Farms, you're choosing a bird that has had access to a natural, varied diet, ensuring healthier, tastier, and more ethically-raised food.


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