We are members of American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA). This is an organization of small growers united by their dedication to raising chickens humanely on pasture and sunlight. The combination of organic feed and the daily movement onto fresh grass produces more fully flavored and healthy chicken meat and eggs.
We feed our chickens certified organic grains. It is more expensive than the non-GMO grains we used last year. We made this change because only certified organic grains are free of all pesticides and herbicides. That means there are no poison residues in the chicken feed or in the chickens and eggs we sell.
Our meat birds (broilers) are the industry standard, Cornish Cross. It is the same breed you find in the grocery, just raised better. We raise them from day 2 of their lives. They are fed organic grains, grasses and all the bugs they can chase down from our pastures. Groups of 40-50 birds live in 120 sq. ft. moveable shelters.
The shelters are moved daily onto fresh patches of pasture. The chickens leave behind the previous day’s poop. This gets them on clean grass, which they peck for seeds and greens, and yummy bugs. The poop, in turn, fertilizes the pastures for the future.
We keep the birds in a shelter because, as the saying goes, “everyone likes chicken”. That includes opossums, raccoons, neighborhood cats, dogs, hawks, owls, rodents, skunks, and probably more critters we don’t even know about. It’s a dangerous world out there. Our job is to keep our charges safe in it.
We feel it is important that each of our birds passes under the trained eye of a USDA inspector before it goes to our customers’ kitchens. When it’s time, we take our birds to a USDA-inspected processor near Rudy, AR. There they are packaged as either whole birds or as packages of parts: legs, breasts, wings, etc.
Our laying hens are also moved regularly to fresh pasture, They have a “yard” to dine in and a hen-house-on-wheels (The Eggmobile) in which to lay their eggs and to sleep. The yard is enclosed by a 200’ electric mesh fence that is energized by a small solar charger. It is effective at keeping out uninvited four-legged animals looking for a meal. The yard is also covered by a spider web of netting to protect against hawks and owls.
We open the fence each day so the hens can supplement the organic feeds we provide by foraging for insects, grasses and even the occasional snake or field mouse in the pastures. They run back to the shelter with its netted yard and overhead netting when frightened by hawks or other predators.
The layers seem to enjoy our company. They rush out to greet us when we get within eyesight and will follow us around as we do our chores.
We have 10 steers that we are tending for their owners, Ozark Pasture Beef, a local farm selling their beef and lamb directly to local consumers and restaurants. They are providing invaluable guidance to us in this hands-on lesson on raising tender and tasty beef.
The herd grazes our pastures, keeping the grass mowed. They also help keep vines and briars from encroaching. As an added bonus, they fertilize our pastures.
We enjoy the steers. We’ve been surprised to learn how inquisitive they are about their surroundings and us. In addition to the time we spend moving them to new pasture each day we also sit with them a couple of evenings a week. They seem to enjoy the company. Most will come to sniff us and give us a lick or two with their very raspy tongues. A few even enjoy a nice scratch on the jowl.
Humanely Raised Animals:
Ultimately our animals are sold to our customers as flavorful, nutritionally-dense and healthy food. We are proud to be able to do this. That said, we do form a bond with all the animals. It is this affection and respect we have for them that compels us to do all we can to make their lives comfortable while they are under our care.