What makes an animal "Pasture Raised"?

What makes an animal "Pasture Raised"?

You might have come across this term while picking out your groceries, but what exactly does it mean when an animal is labeled as "Pasture Raised"? We've put together a guide to make it clear.

 Hens grazing in an open pasture

Photo by Skylar Zilka


What's the general idea of Pasture Raised?

In the context of the living and raising conditions of the animal- Pasture Raised indicates the animal was raised in open pasture, as nature intended. These spacious areas provides animals the freedom to roam and graze on a variety of grasses, plants, and bugs.

1. Living the Outdoor Life: Animals labeled as "Pasture Raised" enjoy ample time outdoors. They're not confined to small spaces; instead, they have access to pastures where they can freely move around, bask in the sunshine, and breathe in the fresh air. This environment lets them exhibit their natural behaviors, like scratching the ground, pecking at plants, or simply taking a leisurely stroll.

2. Natural Diet and Nutrition: One of the fantastic things about being "Pasture Raised" is the diet! These animals get to enjoy a diverse buffet of grasses, herbs, and bugs that nature provides in the pasture. For instance, pasture-raised chickens might feast on grass, seeds, insects, and worms, while cows might munch on various types of grasses. This varied diet contributes to their overall health and can even influence the nutritional quality of the food they produce.

3. Healthier and Happier Animals: Living outdoors and having the freedom to roam not only benefits the animals but also contributes to their well-being. Research suggests that animals allowed to roam and graze in pastures tend to be less stressed and healthier. This healthier lifestyle often means they require fewer antibiotics or medications, resulting in more natural and wholesome products.


Who regulates the "Pasture Raised" label?

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for ensuring food and animal products are properly and truthfully labeled. Unfortunately, these standards are not well documented and we recommend to check all labeling on an animal product before purchase to have a complete understanding of how it was raised.

Read the full Food Safety and Inspection Service Labeling Guideline here. 


What does it mean for eggs to be Pasture Raised?

Unlike cows and other larger livestock, chickens have a handful of labels to describe their living conditions:


  • Inside their entire life
  • Inches of space per hen
  • Living on top of feces and dead animals
    Cage Free:
    • Don't typically have access to outdoors
    • About 1 square foot of space per hen
      Free Range:
      • Some outdoor access required
      • About 2 square feet of space per hen
        Pasture Raised:
        • A minimum of 108 square feet per hen rotated pastures
        • Always have access to fresh vegetation
        • Able to graze and hunt for their favorites foods (bugs, worms)
        • Bonus points if the hens were soy-free and corn-free!


        Collecting pasture raised eggs

        Photo by Court


        Why should I buy Pasture Raised animal products?

        When you see the "Pasture Raised" label on your eggs, meat, or dairy products, it's more than just a label. It represents a commitment to providing animals with a more natural and fulfilling life. It's about respecting their natural behaviors, supporting their well-being, and offering consumers food that's not just nutritious but also produced in a more ethical and sustainable way. 

        As a result: these animals give back to us more pure, nutrient-dense, and better tasting foods.

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