Cruelty-Free Chicken Runs

Update: Tesco criticised for £2 chickens and rightly so.

Talk at the pub last night revolved around cruelty-free diets and the effect of the recent Chicken Run Series on Channel 4 by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I really liked what Hugh did and what he was trying to achieve in making his town completely free range. For those of you outside the country, Hugh set up his own intensive chicken farm alongside a free-range farm and compare the two. Really great and disturbing program!

We have 5 chickens in our back yard and let them run wherever they want. We handed over our original free-range chicken cooperative down the road to some other families and couples who wanted to give it a shot. There are 10 chickens in the cooperative.


Our chickens are really friendly and they like lots of cuddles.

A lot of the conversation comes down to money. Does the single housewife on social welfare buy two intensively farmed chickens for a fiver at the local supermarket or does she buy only one cruelty free chicken for a the same price, or a little more? You can have your say here.

Our policy for the last 2-3 years has been to completely avoid the cheap nasties and pay extra for the cruelty-free. But to pay twice as much for meat often means to eat half as much so we have added more vegetarian meals to our diet. We are also able to get two meals out of one chicken by keeping the bones and making a soup for another day. And they just taste better, as well as easing the conscience.

My post in 2006 called “Grace To Ewe: Our Cruelty-Free Diet” is, surprisingly, still the Number 2 pick at Buzzfeed for Cruelty free Carnivorism, the number one being Wolfgang Puck’s new standards. My post, and in particular, something I wrote in 2005 called “The Skinny on Our Cruelty Free Diet” has some Biblical guidelines for carnivore diets so it good to see it getting read by a lot of people who don’t often relate the Bible with their diet. Which reminds me, Hugh F-W’s excellent book called The River Cottage Meat Book begins with some principles from the book of Genesis on the contract we have with our animals.

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Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Carlo says:

    Good for you. We loved and were challenged by the Hugh and Jamie programmes.
    We have always been organic fans but did think recently about getting a couple of chickens.
    You seem to be able to let them run around the whole time. Do you ever get any problems with foxes or cats in your part of the world?

  • andrew jones says:

    no foxes here on Orkney Island. Cats hang out with the chickens but they seem to know they are different from the rooks and other birds.

  • Jon Harris says:

    I loved seeing Jamie and Hugh recent on Channel 4. I have felt for a while that Jamie is really a prophetic voice, what with his campaign for better school dinners (and ensuing persecution he’s endured) and now this too. Hugh’s experiment was deeply touching, especially when you saw those who had reared their own chickens eating them with what I can only describe as a new reverence. As for Jamie’s Fowl Dinners programme, it impacted me and others I’ve heard talking about it. I’m steering as much clear of cheap chicken now as possible, which does mean more vegetarian, but I’m unclear as to whether beef and lamb are cruelty free as substitutes..?

  • andrew says:

    not too much to worry about regarding beef and lamb from uk.
    pork from denmark and unidentified locations in europe is more suspect and i try to avoid it.
    chicken and turkey are the main offenders.

  • Jon Harris says:

    Thanks – v helpful.

  • Thanks for how you continue to raise awareness about how these issues are faith issues. Such dialog is rare in the States, but awareness is thankfully growing.

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