I raise pastured poultry. I have a farm in northeastern PA. I can talk
about this from experience. We've kept both layers and meat birds. If I
say I raise pastured meat chickens, I would talk about a chicken that is
not in a cage, nor locked in a building. In my case, it would be
chickens that run around outside all day eating bugs, scratching in the
leaf litter in the forested areas. When it rains, they scurry into the
chicken coop to get out of the rain and at night, the layers all roost
in the chicken coop, and I lock the door after they go in at night in
order to keep the coyotes and racoons from eating the chickens.
I don't know that the term pastured talks about a chicken who's only
food is forage. Most farmers I know who offer their chickens or eggs as
"pastured" give those chickens supplemental feed and it usually includes
We've had some 'heritage' breed chickens that run around all summer long
living just on forage. They lay fewer eggs, but seem to do OK. They
can't get through the winters around here on forage. We have never tried
to sell the eggs from forage only chickens. Most chicken hatcheries sell
lines of chicks that are specifically bred to be housed in cages and
produce an egg each every day. Those chickens, I am told, cannot survive
on forage alone.
I've also raised a number of flocks of meat chickens. The typical
American meat chicken is called a "cornish cross" and is bred to go from
hatching to slaughter in about 9 weeks. This chicken has a huge breast
and converts feed to meat at an amazing "efficiency." I've been able to
get them to make one pound of chicken for every 4 pounds of feed. But, I
also tried to raise them on a soy free diet. 40% of them died within the
first few weeks. The feed suppliers had warned me that you really can't
raise cornish cross chickens on a non-soy diet. I believe it now. It
seems that these standard chickens are "engineered" for that standard
diet and just letting be out in the grass is about as far as they can
get out of the CAFO regimen and still survive.
I also raised some slower growing "heritage" breed chickens. They have a
much narrower breast than the cornish cross and I was able to raise them
on a non-soy diet.They tasted good, but most American consumers are
apparently addicted to that big white meat cornish breast.
I haven't tried to raise any meat chickens on a forage only basis. It
would be fun to try that, as long as they don't starve to death.
I should write up this experience and post is on my website.
On Wed,[masked] at 17:52 -0400, Laura Osanitch wrote:
> So all these people who claim pasteured hens are lying, or is it just
> about the chicks?
> There are red worm farms out there. What are the complications?
> Laura O
> From: Christian Wernstedt <[address removed]>
> To: [address removed]
> Sent: Wednesday, September 7,[masked]:48 PM
> Subject: Re: [meatshare] Free-range / pastured chicken eggs
> in/around BK?
> Would add to this that anyone who eats a bag of nuts per day
> (like myself), shouldn't worry much about the omega-6 content
> in the eggs from chickens having had corn/soy in their diet.
> Properly raised chicks would be the best of course, but I've
> given up on finding them.
> On Sep 7, 2011, at 3:01 PM, Rob Mathews wrote:
> > It's going to be a rare farmer that you find that doesn't
> feed their chicks a corn/soy based dry feed, most of which are
> not even organic because of the cost. The number of chicks
> that can survive on a piece of land without supplimental feed
> is low, and production of eggs is much lower.
> > If you want the chicks to just eat natural things you might
> have to get you own and a piece of clean land somewhere.
> > I agree that this is best, and I wish someone would start a
> worm farm to feed chicks for this purpose.
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