Production, Bone Health, and Economic Comparison of Indoor versus Pasture-Raised Red Ranger Broilers

  • Kayla Elmore (Iowa State University)
  • Ajay Nair (Iowa State University)
  • Elizabeth Bobeck (Iowa State University)


The implementation of livestock into cover crop integrated systems is a sustainable practice that has been shown to improve soil health and system diversity. However, the effects of pasture-raised poultry systems on broiler performance and welfare have not been well-documented. The experimental objective was to compare the performance, physiological, and economic outcomes of Freedom Ranger broilers raised in outdoor pastured versus conventional indoor settings. 176 slow-growing Freedom Ranger broilers were started in brooders for 21d, and then half were transferred to either indoor floor pens or outdoor chicken tractors for a 6 week grow-out cycle. Performance and welfare measures were recorded weekly. At d64, 40 birds per treatment were euthanized for tibia collection, and bone mineral density was analyzed by Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA). Under our research conditions, performance and welfare measures were not significantly affected by housing treatments, but bone mineral content and density were significantly increased by 37.9% and 15.4%, respectively, in the outdoor flock (P<0.05). Future research will investigate the impacts of pasture-raised poultry systems on bird behavior and welfare.

Keywords: bone quality, broiler, pasture-raised, performance, welfare

How to Cite:

Elmore, K., Nair, A. & Bobeck, E., (2023) “Production, Bone Health, and Economic Comparison of Indoor versus Pasture-Raised Red Ranger Broilers”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 20(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/air.15445

Download Article



Published on
18 Sep 2023
Peer Reviewed
Public Domain