“You, as the food buyer, have the distinct privilege of proactively participating in shaping the world your children will inherit.”

Joel Salatin
Pastured Poultry

Imagine a poultry farm where chickens roam freely, picking at fresh grasses, seeds, and insects. This is the world of pastured poultry, a sustainable and humane approach to raising birds for meat and eggs. It is a practice that not only benefits the birds, but also the environment, our health, and local economies.

Short Introduction

  • Pastured poultry is a farming technique that promotes sustainable agriculture, animal welfare and quality food production while avoiding antibiotics or hormones.
  • Pastured eggs are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, anti-inflammatory molecules and other essential nutrients for health.
  • Choosing pasture raised chicken supports local economies, ethical practices and regenerative agriculture for a more resilient food system.

The True Meaning of Pastured Poultry

Pastured Chickens With Barn In Background

A walk through a pastured poultry farm is a heartwarming nod to nature’s balance. Pastured poultry, as the name suggests, are birds – chickens, guinea fowl, or turkeys – that are raised primarily on pasture feeding, a stark contrast to their indoor-confined counterparts. Pastured poultry farmers allow their birds to feed on a variety of natural sources available in the pasture, which include grasses, bugs, and seeds. This technique is more than just a farming method; it is a commitment to sustainable agriculture, animal welfare, and quality food production.

The term “pastured poultry” is sometimes confused with “free range.” While both terms imply birds having access to open spaces, they are not identical. Free-range birds have access to the outdoors, but the quality of the outdoor space is not defined. In contrast, pastured poultry refers to birds that are on fresh pasture daily, ensuring a constant supply of fresh vegetation and bugs for their diet. At Willow Creek Ranch, these birds are raised without the use of antibiotics, steroids, or added growth hormones, ensuring that the meat and eggs they produce are as natural and healthy as possible.

Health Benefits of Pastured Eggs

Deep Yellow Color Of Nutritious Organic Farm Egg

The benefits of pastured poultry extend well beyond the farm and into our kitchens. Pastured eggs, in particular, are a trove of nutritional treasures, boasting higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. The absence of antibiotics or hormones further enhances their appeal as a clean and healthy food choice.

Omega Fatty Acids

Omega fatty acids are one of the nutritional highlights of pastured eggs. These essential nutrients are critical for human health, playing an integral role in maintaining cardiovascular health by assisting in reducing triglycerides. There are three principal types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

While fish, nuts, and seeds are often hailed as excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, pastured eggs are an equally potent source. The omega fatty acids in pastured eggs come from the natural diet of the birds, which includes a variety of grasses, seeds, and insects. This not only enhances the nutritional profile of the eggs, but also contributes to their distinctive, rich flavor. Pastured eggs have been shown to have a better ratio of omega-3 fatty acids compared to omega-6 fatty acids, conferring anti-inflammatory properties to the food.


The nutritional benefits of pastured eggs don’t stop at omega fatty acids. These eggs are also abundant in antioxidants, which are substances that can inhibit or delay damage to cells caused by free radicals. Antioxidants are commonly found in plant-based foods, and include vitamins C and E, selenium, and carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Pastured eggs, thanks to the varied diet of the birds, are an excellent source of these antioxidants. A diet rich in antioxidants has been linked to a decreased risk of several illnesses, including heart disease and certain types of cancer. Thus, incorporating pastured eggs into your diet can have a positive effect on your overall well-being.


Pastured eggs are also a powerhouse of vitamins and vital nutrients. Vitamins are organic compounds that our bodies require in trace amounts to sustain optimal health and functioning. Pastured poultry contains vitamin A, vitamin E, and carotenoid content compared to egg yolks from caged hens, making them a nutrient-dense food source. Furthermore, eggs are one of the few foods that are high in vitamin D. This is because the vitamin D in hens’ food gets transferred to the egg yolk.

The presence of these vitamins in pastured eggs is a direct result of the varied and natural diet of pastured chickens as well as sun exposure. From pecking at grasses and bugs to foraging for seeds, these birds consume a wide range of foods that are rich in these essential vitamins. The result is an egg that is not only delicious but also packed with nutrition that benefits health and well-being.

No Antibiotics or Hormones

One of the key benefits of choosing pastured eggs is what they don’t contain – antibiotics or hormones. Antibiotics, which are medications used to combat bacterial infections in humans and animals, are often used in conventional poultry farming to prevent diseases or promote growth. However, their use can lead to the potential for the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can be detrimental to humans and animals. Routine antibiotic use also disrupts the normal, and beneficial, microbiota of the chickens.

Pastured poultry farming at Willow Creek Ranch avoids the use of antibiotics or hormones. This provides a product that is cleaner and healthier, as well as imparting a more natural flavor. Furthermore, it contributes to the protection of the environment by reducing the amount of antibiotics and hormones released into the environment.

Positive Impact on the Environment

Pastured poultry farming is not just good for the chicken and those who eat them; it is also beneficial for the environment. A pastured poultry farm can aid in enhancing soil fertility, minimizing pests, and recycling nutrients throughout the pasture..

Grazing on weeds and insects, pastured birds contribute to natural pest management on the farm. The birds’ natural behaviors also lead to the enrichment of the soil as they peck, scratch, and leave behind natural fertilizers, thus contributing to a healthier and more vibrant ecosystem.

Humane and Sustainable: The Role of Pastured Poultry Farmers

Pastured poultry farming is a practice that puts animal welfare at its forefront. Pastured poultry farmers are committed to raise poultry in a way that respects their natural behaviors and needs. They allow their birds to roam freely, forage for their natural diet, and live without the stress of confinement.

This humane approach to farming extends to the overall philosophy of pastured poultry farmers, many of whom operate on a family farm. They are often driven by a commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. By raising birds on pasture, they contribute to the vitality of their local ecosystems, enrich their soils, and produce food that is healthy and ethically raised.

Supporting pastured poultry farmers, therefore, means supporting a system of farming that values animal welfare, environmental health, and the production of high-quality food. It’s a choice that has far-reaching impacts, affecting not just our health, but the health of our planet and our local economies as well.

Benefits of Pastured Poultry Beyond the Farm

The ripples of benefits from pastured poultry farming extend well beyond the farm gates. When you choose pastured poultry, you are supporting local economies and small-scale farmers who are committed to ethical and sustainable practices.

But the benefits don’t stop at the economic level. Pastured poultry farming encourages the practice of regenerative agriculture, a farming method that works with nature to improve soil health, sequester carbon, and support biodiversity. By choosing pastured poultry, you become a part of this larger movement towards a more sustainable and resilient food system.

Beware of Green-Washing

Pasture Raised Green Washing

While the benefits of pastured poultry are clear, it’s important to be aware of the potential for “green-washing” in the industry. Green-washing is the practice of making misleading or unsubstantiated claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service.

The term “Pasture-Raised” is not regulated by the USDA and and is sometimes used by big corporations for marketing purposes to mislead consumers. This marketing term misleads many consumers into believing that chickens spend their entire day on pasture. Because “pasture-raised” is not a regulated term, anyone can affix it to their egg carton.

The USDA (and industry standard) defines “Free Range” as requiring that birds have “outdoor access” or “access to the outdoors.” In certain instances, this may entail access only via a “pop hole,” with no full-body access to the exterior and no minimum space requirement. In many cases, the birds do not actually go outside.

Certified Humane® “Free Range” requirements for birds are 2 square feet per bird. The poultry must be outside, weather permitting (in some regions of the country, seasonally), and they must spend at least six hours a day outdoors. All other requirements must also be fulfilled.

The Certified Humane® “Pasture Raised” standard stipulates no more than 1,000 birds per 2.5 acres (108 square feet per bird), and the fields must be rotated. The hens must be kept outdoors 365 days a year, with mobile or fixed housing where they can go at night to defend themselves from predators, or for up to two weeks per year due to extreme weather conditions.

Where to Find and Purchase Pasture Raised Poultry

Now that you’re aware of the benefits and importance of pastured poultry, you might be wondering where to find these products. Pasture-raised poultry products can be found in a variety of places, from local farms and farmers markets to online platforms. In the Baton Rouge area, organic farm eggs can be purchased directly at the farm using cash, Venmo, or our website.

When purchasing these products, look for the indicators of genuine pastured poultry. The easiest way to know if the eggs you’re purchasing are pasture-raised is to source them locally and get to know the farmer.

By choosing pastured poultry, you’re not only opting for a healthier and tastier choice, but also supporting farmers who are committed to sustainable and ethical practices.


Pastured poultry presents a compelling case for a shift in our food choices. From the health benefits of nutrient-dense, antibiotic-free eggs and meat to the environmental advantages of sustainable farming practices, the case for pastured poultry is strong.

By choosing pastured poultry, we are not just choosing healthier food. We are supporting local economies, promoting animal welfare, and contributing to the protection of our environment. It’s a choice that extends beyond the dinner table and into the wider world, creating a positive impact that can be felt far and wide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which chickens are pasture raised?

All of the chickens at Willow Creek Ranch are pasture-raised on organic pasture, and enjoy a diet of seeds, insects, and earthworms.

Is free-range chicken the same as pasture raised?

Pasture-raised chickens must be provided a minimum of 108 square feet of outdoor space for each hen, whereas free-range hens are given only 2 square feet, making them not the same.

This difference in space requirements means that the two types of chickens are not the same. They have different needs and different levels of care. Therefore, it is important to understand the differences between the two when making a decision about which type of chicken to purchase.

Can chickens be raised on pasture only?

Chickens can be raised on pasture as they are able to graze any type of pasture and consume a variety of plants, insects, and grubs. However, they usually need supplemental feed. At WCR, we supplement their pasture diet with organic chicken feed.

What are the health benefits of pastured eggs?

Enjoy the health benefits of pastured eggs with their higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, free of antibiotics or hormones.

These eggs are a great way to get the nutrition you need without the worry of ingesting chemicals or hormones. They are also a great source of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins, and can be used in a variety of recipes.