|They are fed organic vegetarian feed containing a variety of grains,|
|peas, and mineral supplements, and fresh locally grown produce |
and weeds, as well as herbal supplements and lactobaccillus
(yogurt cultures). They drink water from our 140-foot well. We are
not close to any large commercial farms that might have pesticide
or manure run-off. We think a varied diet for the birds is better than
a feed that is just corn, soy, and a vitamin supplement, which is
commonly used by large operations.
|They have lots of outdoor space to roam in and bugs to eat. Many|
|egg-laying hens are never able to experience their natural |
behavior of scratching in the dirt and laying in the sun. We provide
at least 10 square feet per standard size bird, or at least 4.5
square feet per small bird, and most have much more space.
With this much space, we have no problems with cannibalism
and do not trim beaks or remove rooster spurs.
|They are protected from predators, but no predators are killed.|
|Some free-range operations have high predator losses or kill |
wildlife instead of keeping them out of the chicken run. We don't
clear large tracts of land for rotational grazing systems or
introduce non-native forage but preserve our forested land for
wildlife and native plant habitat. We often see coyotes, bobcats,
foxes, raccoons, skunks, hawks, and owls, and even heard some
mountain lions, but they can't hurt the poultry.
|They receive care when they are sick or hurt, from our experienced|
|chicken keepers, our farm poultry vet, or avian vets that we use in |
emergencies. Some operations simply kill a sick or hurt chicken -
or do nothing.
|They receive antibiotics only if they are sick. Some operations give|
|antibiotics as a normal part of their feed, or kill or sell an animal |
that becomes ill, as organic standards do not allow antibiotic use.
Our birds stay healthy naturally with good living conditions, feed,
and holistic supplements, and rarely need any medication.
|They are allowed to live out their full lives. Most operations kill|
|hens after 1.5 to 2 years when they begin to lay fewer eggs. A |
chicken's lifespan can be 25 years or even more.
|Most of the chickens on the farm were rescued, such as from a|
|commercial egg farm, our local community, or animal control.|
|Our farm has roosters. Most egg-laying facilities have no place for|
|roosters. Almost all roosters that end up at animal control are |
|We let the hens take a break from egg laying. Some operations|
|force hens to lay through the winter by providing extra light to |
trigger egg production. Research has shown that extra light
causes reproductive cancer in hens.
|Although Asian bird flu has not arrived to our area, we are|
|prepared. Our birds live in insulated housing and spacious runs |
that meet UC Davis and DEFRA guidelines for preventing
contagious disease, such as bird flu, salmonella, and others. We
periodically test the birds for contagious disease and parasites to
make sure they are free of them. We quarantine all new birds.
|Compost for fertilizing farm plants and trees is produced on the|
|farm. We don't bring in manure from external sources, which in |
some cases has been implicated in the spread of bird flu. We
don't use fertilizer from factory farms. Instead, we periodically
remove the mulch from the bird runs and bedding from the
housing and use this as the basis for our compost process. The
bedding in our bird housing is changed frequently so there is no
offensive odor or conditions that promote disease. Some
operations clean the housing only once or twice a year, or when
they replace their flocks, and subject birds to dangerous molds,
dust, and concentrated pathogens and ammonia.
|Our ducks have water to swim in. We have a large stock tank for|
|the ducks and use the water for irrigating fruit trees, so no water is |
wasted. Some operations don't supply water for waterfowl or
dump it into waterways.