At some point between 2-4 weeks, we transfer the chicks to their pasture pens.  The main reasons for the variation in the timeframe is the time of year (temperature) and expected weather – if bad weather is predicted, we will wait a few extra days.

 

The pens, each containing approx 75 chickens, are moved every morning to provide a fresh salad bar of greens for the chicks to choose from each day.  This also distributes the manure over the pasture.  The chicks get used to the daily moves quickly.  It doesn’t take long for the quick learners to line up at the front of the pen waiting to move when you approach in the morning.

The daily pasture pen move

This is the second point of difference between our model and more industrialized approaches used by large scale organic/free-range operations.  Our chickens have access to fresh pasture every day whereas in other models, the range area does not change.  This also means that our chickens have guaranteed access to approximately 6m2 of fresh pasture each over the course of their stay in the pasture pens, whilst certified organic Filling the feeder as part of morning choresonly requires access to 4 m2 of range area and this remains the same for the duration of their stay.  How far the chickens have to walk to access fresh pasture is another important consideration.


When compared to industrially produced chicken, the differences are significant.  I have been inside an industrial, chicken factory shed and could hardly breathe with the particles of dust, faeces and smell of ammonia in the air.  I made it inside the door but that was far enough to know that I didn’t want to go any further.  Visibility was only half the length of the shed, which was approximately 100m long


For those of you interested in seeing some footage of the pasture pens, check back in the next few days for a video showing the basic components of our field pens.