The Free Range Butcher

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The term ‘free range’ has become quite familiar and commonplace when it comes to animal produce in Australia. As consumers, it often provides us with the peace of mind that we are making a good and ethical choice.

Free range means the animal has spent a majority of its life feeding in a pasture, as opposed to an enclosed ‘feed lot’ which restricts the animal’s movement and its access to natural sources of food. So when we see the words ‘free range’ on meat packaging, it generally means the animal has had a good life.

But just like other food products, not all free range meat is created equal. Some free range animals are free to roam around in their pasture and are fed a natural diet of grass, however other free range animals may have partial access to a pasture and be ‘topped up’ with dietary supplements such as grains. Free range – yes, but free fed – not quite.

Ben Clinch is a free range farmer from the Nandewar Mountain Ranges in Northern NSW and operates The Free Range Butcher. He and his family have been producing and providing free range and grass-fed meat to families all over NSW for around six years.

Ben is passionate about producing the best quality meat possible and all his livestock are 100% free range. His family run business specialises in providing grass fed, 28 day dry aged beef and lamb, as well as pasture fed free range pork and free range poultry. All the meat comes directly from Ben’s free range farm and other farms in the area and it’s all 100% hormone and antibiotic free.

As Ben explains, there are many benefits to free range farming – not only is the meat better quality, the animals live a better life and are healthier too.

Which begs the question: why aren’t all farms 100% free range?

In Australia, drought is a constant threat to farmers and can put them out of business in a matter of months. In times of drought, farms are unable to keep their livestock healthy as there just isn’t enough nutrient-rich pasture. The animals can starve and become malnourished if they are not provided with some sort of dietary supplement.

Ben’s family farm is located 90km north of Tamworth, an area which normally receives a higher than average rainfall. This is critical for free range farming as the farmers rely on a healthy pasture of native grasses to keep their animals healthy.

So it’s not easy to maintain a ‘strictly free range and pasture fed’ herd, and just because a label suggests the product comes from a free range animal, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice.

For more about free range and grass fed meat, read Ben’s article ‘Why you should eat free range meat‘.


How to buy from The Free Range Butcher

Order online from their website, or you can visit Ben and his family at any of the following markets:

Castle Hill – Saturday (2nd and 4th Saturday of each month)

WHERE: Castle Hill showground
WHEN: 8.00am – 12.00pm

Concord – Sunday (1st and 3rd Sunday of each month)

WHERE: Cintra Park (Car Park) off Crane St, Concord
WHEN: 9.00am – 1.00pm

Frenchs Forest – Sunday (weekly)

WHERE: The Parkway Hotel (carpark), Frenchs Forest Road East, Frenchs Forest
WHEN: 8.00am – 1.00pm

Glenbrook – Saturday (1st Saturday of each month)

WHERE: Glenbrook Infants School, Ross Street
WHEN: 8.00am – 1.00pm

Hornsby - Thursday (weekly)

WHERE: Hornsby Mall (by the Fountain), Hornsby
WHEN: 8.00am – 2.00pm

Narrabeen - Friday (weekly)

WHERE: Pittwater Rugby Park (Rat Park), 1472 Pittwater Road, Narrabeen
WHEN: 8.00am – 2.00pm

North Sydney – Saturday (3rd Saturday of each month)

WHERE: Miller Street – between Ridge Street and McLaren Street
WHEN: 8.00am – 12.00pm

Orange Grove – Saturday (weekly)

WHERE: Orange Grove Public School, Cnr Perry Street and Balmain Road, Lilyfield
WHEN: 8.00am – 1.00pm

Alison Sims

Passionate about real food and healthy living, Alison Sims is the founder and author of Paleo Foodies. She is on a mission to discover the best paleo dining in Australia and all around the world. What started as a part time blog in 2013 has lead to a full time career for Alison, who previously spent a decade in Advertising and Marketing. She is now a regular contributor to health and lifestyle publications, a public speaker in food and health, and co-publisher of Paleo Foodies Magazine.

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