Culinary Adventures
Comments 9

Free farmed vs. Free range

Piglet at a friend's mum's farm August 2010.

Hellers Free Farmed Streaky Bacon
$8.75 for 250g ($35 per kg)

Freedom Farms Streaky Bacon
$11.70 for 250g ($46 per kg)

I bought Hellers the other day instead of Freedom Farms. It was the cheaper choice but I noticed that it was “free farmed” rather than “free range”.

So, what’s the difference?

I didn’t know, so I did a little investigating…

Free farmed: 20% of New Zealand pigs are free farmed. Considered an ethical choice, it is more common in NZ than free range.

Free range: 1% of pigs farmed in New Zealand. Pigs have complete free range.

The difference is free range pigs are allowed to move freely between paddocks. Free farmed means that pigs are only allowed to move freely within their own paddock.

If you are interested in more information including the difference between the farming styles in NZ, visit Pig Farming In NZ here.

There are lots of interesting facts about NZ pork including:

  1. …None of the pork, bacon or ham you eat  is ever in an individual crate or cage. Only the sow is housed in a stall (also called a crate).
  2. On any day less than 4% of all pigs are in a sow stall.
  3. We have never had a case of swine flu in our pig herd.
  4. It is impractical to farm pigs free range in many regions due to climatic conditions and soil types.

And an interesting non-NZ pork fact:

  1. Pork is the most popular meat in the world.

I really liked the design of the cardboard sleeve and tray.

The tray and sleeve design meant that I didn’t need to transfer the bacon to another container after opening.

The slices were cut very thick and needed to be cooked a bit longer. The flavour was very smokey.

The thick cut streaky bacon.

Perfect for a weekend breakfast of bacon and eggs.

Free farmed is good enough for me. So I will happily buy either free farmed or free range.


  1. Hey there fellow NZer. I am getting pigs next year to grow my own bacon because they just don’t make it like they should over here in the US!.. I have a little block of land and I grow all kinds of stuff.. fancy finding you.. i am going back to have another look at your posts! c

    • Bunny Eats Design says

      Hi Jessica and atimeforalittlesomething, glad you found this post handy.

      Hi Celia G, I would love to make bacon one day. I will be following your bacon growing journey with interest.

  2. jessicapea says

    Good to know – I have been buying freedom farm for a couple of years now – but pleased to find out that Hellers is doing similar things.

  3. Interesting post, thank you :-).

    I believe that all pigs should be free range, but it is hard for me to comment since I am a vegetarian and some people says that it is not my business. But I would still like to say to people who eat them, to eat less, much less: better expensive free range pork once a month that cheap pork twice a week. Only in this way battery farms will disappear and animals will be healthier, happier and the farms will not damage the environment like they are doing now.

    Or raise your own and keep it free around your garden, a pis is as clever and trainable as a dog is!


    • Bunny Eats Design says

      Thanks for the vegetarian insight Alessandra. If I kept free range pigs, they would become my pets and I can’t eat pets. So it would have to be other people’s free range pigs on the menu. What did you think about free farmed?

  4. mairi29 says

    Good to know & I love that picture of the pig at the top…beyond cute!

  5. The hellers meets my bacon needs more so than freedom farm, but I still think freedom farm farming method is better, and their pork roast is great, perhaps they need to change their butcher. Agree with the veggie, good meat occasionally, one should always eat happy meat, if that is not an ox eel moron (bad pun sorry)

    • Bunny Eats Design says

      Hi Kate, we are lucky that we have choices that we can be comfortable with.

      I visited a small town over the holidays and there were no free range or free farmed meat specified anywhere. I could have asked, but didn’t want to seem like a pretentious, city-dwelling tourist. Why is it that city folk can demand more. Maybe because there is more competition?

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