We raise cornish cross on our farm, they typically take 8 weeks to full mature weight, they are a primary meat chicken in the industry. For the first 3-4 weeks, the chickens spend time in the brooder, an indoor living area where they have plenty of heat and no predator pressure. Depending on weather conditions determines how soon they get to be outside permanently.
The common phrase that is thrown around is “free-range chicken”. While we do raise our chickens on pasture, they do have “free-range” within certain parameters. We house our chickens in chicken tractors (Chicken Tractors – The Beginning). This provides the chickens with a safe place to live without predator pressure, while still allowing them fresh grass daily.
The chickens are serving the purpose of spreading the cattle manure and eating those bugs that the manure attracts. This system boosts our ecosystem by dispensing nutrients into the soil and eliminates the needs for any insecticides on the land. Every morning when we perform morning chores, the chickens are so excited to see us they run to the front of the tractor to be the first one to get that fresh grass. The phrase, “early bird gets the worm” is a true statement on our farm.
We use a starter ration for the firsts 3 weeks of growth. After that, we grind our own feed with the assistance of our family, Golliher Meats. Our ration consists of NON-GMO corn, soybean meal, and calcium limestone. The chickens love the feed! Uo to 30% of the chicken diet is from the grass, legumes, and fresh bugs they get.
An independent study funded by the USDA Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education (SARE) Program found that compared to conventionally raised chickens, pasture raised chickens had 21% less total fat, 30% less saturated fat, and 28% fewer calories. The pasture-raised chickens had essentially no fat in the breast meat, but had 50% more vitamin A and had significant levels of omega-3s, where conventional chickens had none.
If you have any questions, please let us know!