Pastured Free-Range Poultry (including chickens, turkey and ducks)
If you are wondering if there is a difference between the "pastured poultry" or "Free-range" advertised in the grocery store, and ours, let me assure you, there is. All large corporate farms need to provide is a small access to the outdoors... maybe the size of a closet. Where no grass is grown, just a dirt pad. This is their way to be in compliance with the law...
Our poultry are free-ranged, pastured here. There is grassy areas, and woods. They roam all over our land, scratching in the leaves for bugs, eating grass, finding a nice place for a dust bath, or cooling off under a tree. They only go in the coop at night to protect them from predators.
They are raised stress-free, and have all the freedom there is. We have no fence to keep them confined - except at night.
Because they forage like normal chickens, they take longer to grow (commercial Cornish Rocks take 7 weeks to be full grown) and they don't have the leg problem that most commercially raised birds have.
Chickens are one of the first animals people want to get when they are starting their homestead. They are very easy to keep and raise. They eat very little if they are free ranging. They are great for bug control. In return they provide eggs, meat and feathers for fishing tackle. They are amusing to watch, a little violent in their breeding (for you first timers) and it is fun to hear the rooster crow and the girls talk. The rooster will call his girls over when he finds a tasty morsel. He will crow in the morning just to announce his
domain. The girls gossip and chat to each other and will brag when they lay their eggs.
When the birds are fully feathered and grown, you will see the "ear lobes" on the side of their head. The ones with the red ones will lay brown eggs, and the ones with the white will lay white eggs. After the first couple of eggs come, if you are observant, you will be able to tell which egg belongs to which hen as each egg is distinctive to that hen.
Each chicken will have their own personality. I had a chicken that would always run to me and make her soft clucking sounds as if asking for a handout. She was always the first one to spot me coming out of the house.
Interested in starting a small flock? In general, you can have 3 hens (no rooster or crowing involved) and get 14 eggs a week! That's 2 eggs a day!