Are Happy Chickens Free Chickens?

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Are chickens happier on the free range? One study suggested that elevated hormone levels, usually associated with stress or fear, have been observed in free range chickens. The level of stress indicating hormones for free range chickens are the same or higher than chickens in conventional cages.

Free range hens deal with pressures that hens in modern cages do not, researchers explained. For instance, hens in modern cages are protected from outside predators, while free range hens are not. "They are constantly in fear of attack by predators," said [Dr. Jeff Downing at University of Sydney]. "A shadow (a bird flying overhead) comes over and they are completely startled."