Raising Pastured Poultry
We've been raising pastured poultry for well over fifteen years. We started out following the Joel Salatin model beginning with reading his book "Pastured Poultry Profits." Joel's model is solid, and we encourage everyone to read his book, however for farmers who need to work off farm, his model was too labor intensive for us and therefore we've developed our own model which allows us to raise a quality bird in eight weeks, spending as little as 30 minutes per day.
If you are new to raising chickens we encourage you to consider raising your chickens on an organic diet. Some people will tell you that you should start your birds on medicated feed. We have never found that necessary, instead we believe a good diet of organic GMO free grains, fresh water and access to the outdoors will provide you with healthy birds.
Baby Chicks Arrive
When the baby chicks arrive, they are quickly placed in a broader pen. A broader is small pen with a heat lamp, feed and water. It is critical that the pen is protected from drafts. Note: We dip their beaks in water as we unload them to insure that they are properly hydrated after their trip. At this point we provide them unlimited access to organic broiler starter feed which is 20% protein.
The chicks will remain in the broader pens for about three weeks.
First Day In The Field
The first day the chickens are moved to the field we make sure that there is plenty of feed and water available. For shelter we provide tents and make sure that the feed is in the tents to make sure that the chickens know where their shelter is. This is also the time that we switch the birds to organic broiler feed with a protein of 18%.
In the Field - Time to Free Range
The chickens will remain in the field for the next five weeks. During this time, the free range chickens are fed once a day a predetermined amount of feed. We do this because we want the chickens to run out of feed as this encourages them to free range.
We provide plenty of fresh water and make sure that the chickens have access to good shelter as this reduces the stress on the birds. We also make sure that we protect the chickens from predators. Llama's, donkey's and even the peacocks play a key part in protecting our birds.
At approximately eight weeks, the chickens are caught and taken to slaughter. Using our model we can consistently raise a 4.5 to 5 pound free range chicken. For feed usage guidelines, see the chicken feed consumption charts located at the RCR Organic Feed Store.