At present free range represents less than 3% of all the chicken sold in the UK. Surely that is grotesquely out of proportion. In France, close to 40% of all fresh chicken sold in supermarkets and butchers shops is free-range.
Free-range is a method of farming husbandry where the animals are permitted to roam freely instead of being contained in any manner.
The principle is to allow the animals as much freedom as possible, to live out their instinctual behaviours in a reasonably natural way, regardless of whether or not they are eventually killed for meat. In practice, there are few regulations imposed on what can be called "free range," and the term may be used misleadingly to imply that the animal product has been produced more humanely than it actually has been.
This method of farming may apply to meat, eggs or dairy farming.
In ranching, livestock are permitted to roam without being fenced in, as opposed to fenced-in pastures. In many of the agriculture based economies, free-range livestock are quite common. Some animals like the goat will only thrive on a free-range diet.
Salmonella infection rate in free-range and organic chickens have been found to be comparable to those produced in typical poultry production houses.