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Farmer’s Dictionary

Ever wonder what all those labels mean on poultry, meat, and other animal products? Find out here!

Pasture-Raised

In short, animals that were allowed to graze on pasture.

We find a lot of confusion between pastured raised cows and grass-fed cows. A cow can be pasture-raised but not grass-fed and vice-versa. A cow can also be pasture-raised and fed grains instead of grass.

Pastured-raised refers to where the animal is raised and fed.

Pasture-raised cows, pigs, or chickens spend a portion of their lives on pasture and are not constantly confined indoors. They have the ability to roam freely and live a healthy and active lifestyle.

Animals raised humanely – who are free to roam a pasture and access an indoor shelter – produce better meat, dairy, and eggs. Take a look at chickens – pastured raised chickens produce eggs that have more nutritional value than conventional eggs because:

  • They get more exercise
  • They engage in natural behaviors such as foraging for insects and seeds
  • They get more sunlight

Forest-Raised

When livestock, specifically pigs, live and forage in protected woodlots.

At Riverview Farms, you’ll hear or see us use the term “forest-raised” when we talk about our pigs. This means that our pigs live their entire lives outdoors in wooded areas. Keeping them in their natural habitat allows them to thrive.

Our pigs spend their days wallowing in mud and foraging on grass and roots.

Free Range

Food from animals, such as meat or eggs, that are produced from animals that have access to outdoor spaces.

The free-range label can be misleading, as it implies chickens range freely outdoors.

The industry standard for free-range is the requirement for birds to have access to the outdoors. This can mean access through a small opening – also known as a “pop hole” – in the structure they are confined in with no full-body access to the outdoors.

The free-range label can be slapped onto egg and chicken products if the producers make the claim that the birds have access to an outdoor area. However, there are no requirements for the size or condition of the outdoor area or how accessible it is to the birds.

Chicken and eggs labeled “free range’ can still live in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions.

Grass-Fed

To feed on grass and herbage; an animal whose diet is primarily made up of grass.

This term refers to what an animal is fed, which in this instance is grass. Grass-fed doesn’t necessarily mean the cow or animal is also pasture-raised.

Grass-fed beef could mean the animal ate only grass and forages for the length of its life. Bear in mind that USDA’s grass-fed label refers only to the animal’s diet – it has nothing to do with whether or not the animal received hormones or antibiotics.

Organic

Food or produce that is produced without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.

Organic meat means there are regulations that require the animals to be raised in living conditions that accommodate their natural behaviors. Natural behaviors include the ability to graze on pasture and to consume 100% organic feed and forage.

This also means the animal should not be administered antibiotics or hormones.