Impact of Free-range Poultry Production Systems–New CAST Issue Paper

Press Release: July 18, 2018…Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa

Despite the ever-increasing separation between farming and the general public, today’s consumers are increasingly interested in where their food comes from and how it is produced. With regard to animal food products, animal welfare, food quality, and sustainability have become key issues of consumer concern resulting in increased pressure for farmers to transition from conventionally raised poultry to free-range poultry production.

As farmers in the United States try to develop new poultry operations that meet consumer demand and continue to make sustainability strides, they often deal with confusing definitions and confounding research related to this field. Led by Task Force Cochairs Jacqueline P. Jacob and Anthony J. Pescatore, the authors of this issue paper bring attention and clarification to the topic as they assess various aspects of multiple poultry production systems.

This issue paper addresses the challenges by assessing these key topics:

Management is key to optimizing animal welfare in any production system. Although many perceive free-range poultry production systems to be more animal welfare friendly, the research comparing the different production systems is inconclusive and often contradictory. This publication provides the science-based information that will help producers, consumers, and policymakers better understand this contentious issue.

This CAST Issue Paper (IP 61) and its companion Ag quickCAST are available online at the CAST website, along with many of CAST’s other scientific publications. CAST Issue Papers, Commentaries, and Ag quickCASTs are FREE.


Jacqueline Jacob-Phone: 859-257-7613; Email:

Anthony Pescatore-Phone: 859-257-7529; Email:

Kent Schescke-Phone: 515-292-2125, ext. 231; Email:

Task Force Authors:

Jacqueline P. Jacob (CoChair), University of Kentucky

Anthony J. Pescatore (CoChair), University of Kentucky

Kenneth E. Anderson, North Carolina State University

Brigid McCrea, Auburn University

Daniel P. Shaw, University of Missouri

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