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Who Cares about 'Pastured' Poultry



Colonel's Blog, Earthdate 2 April 2023...

Hey Y'all!


Good morning and Happy Sunday from Air2Ground Farms! We awoke to frost everywhere, 36 degrees, but at least the wind quit blowing. It looks like a couple of warm days, up to 72 degrees today, then a couple more cold mornings, then maybe we will be finished with frost. The second pic is the beef chicks. We plan to move the chicks outside once the frost warnings are over, hopefully by the end of the week. We are working to harden the chicks to the cool temps by removing their brooder plates. We lost one beef chick last night to the process. Sometimes they huddle together so closely that one gets stuck on the bottom and can't get up. It is all part of the business of getting them tough enough to survive outside. The layer chicks are great, getting their feathers and they should be ready to move outside at the same time as the beef chicks. The top pic is us with the hogs this morning. The bottom two pics are Stella and Holly in their loafing area this morning when we were milking. Uncle Carl and Aunt Carol are visiting, which is awesome! We are always excited to show off what we are doing. If you remember, we get all of our pallets from Uncle Carl and they are everywhere around the farm. It's cool to show off all of the things we are able to do with his pallets. After the market yesterday, Makaylah had a soccer game and then we did normal rounds. Today we are going to install lights in the barn, the last of the house projects! We are excited to be able to say everything is finished with the house build. We'll probably always have small things going here and there, but this is the last of the big projects.


What is the big deal about getting the birds outside? Does it make a difference where they are raised? Don't they just eat whatever and grow? There are a few different ways to describe unconventional practices for raising poultry. You may hear organic, free-range, cage-free, and pastured (or pasture-raised). In order to be certified organic, chicken must be fed organic feed, water without chemicals, be given no antibiotics, and have at least 1 square foot of cage space per bird. There are no requirements for where the birds are contained for their life and 6 birds can be in a 2'x3' cage as long as they have access to fresh air and sunlight. Free-range chickens must have free access to the outside to come and go as they please, with at least 2 square feet of outside space per bird. That outside space can be a concrete slab and there are no restrictions on what kind of feed they are given. Cage-free normally refers to layer chickens and describes the fact that they are not kept in what are called 'battery cages' or small wire crates. Cage-free has no real requirements other than not in a tiny cage. Pastured or pasture-raised refers to chickens that are raised outside with free access to grass, bugs, and worms that are part of their natural diet. They act like chickens, foraging and scratching all day. They get to express their chicken-ness, not just lay in a wire cage. Additionally, studies show* that pastured chicken has 2x the Omega 3 fatty acids, 4x as much vitamin E, and 7x as much vitamin D3 compared to industrial chicken. This is why we get so excited to get the birds outside onto pasture as soon as possible. In our effort to grow the highest quality protein possible, we raise our chicken on pasture while feeding fermented, GMO-free, locally sourced feed. So, in answer to the questions above, we think it is a big deal and does make a difference that the chickens are on pasture eating amazing food because it is healthier for the birds and ultimately healthier for us!


Shelley's YouTube Short today is of Happy and Betty depicting what a 2-cow head-gate system looks like.


Local Farm Report for 1 April 2023:

Harvest:

35 Chicken eggs

10 Duck eggs

0 Goose eggs

5 Gallons of milk

Sales:

3x 6 Packs duck eggs

7 Goose eggs

5 Packs lamb steaks/chops

1 Pack bacon ends/pieces

1 Gallon milk

Farm loss:

1 Beef chick


Cheers! Psycho & Shelley



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