During 14+ years of raising poultry on pasture, we have refined our feed and poultry shelters in a way that sets us apart from most other producers. We are not aware of any other pastured poultry growers in Missouri that have been at it this long and there is a reason. It is hard physical work. We have made many labor saving innovations that enable us to move our poultry 1 and 2 times a day. This provides more insects for the birds to eat and a cleaner environment in which to sleep. It also contributes to a better quality of life for us. A pasture move that used to take 2 people one hour now takes one person 15 minutes. Our chickens and turkeys are truly free range and can roam over 34 acres. The turkeys enjoy this freedom, but the chickens prefer to stay closer to the feed trough. A downside is that we have a higher loss to predators, but we feel the trade off is well worth it.
This is our second year of feeding an all-vegetable diet. We used to add a small amount of fish meal to the feed, but have found it to be unnecessary. The ration is made with non-gmo corn and non-gmo roasted soy. To that we add vitamins and minerals. Feed is ground fresh about every 10 days. The chickens spend at least half of their life on pasture. Typical for the summer months is 2 1/2 weeks in the brooder and 5 1/2 weeks on pasture. The shelter is usually moved twice a day during week 7 and 8.
Processing days start very early and end late. We enlist the help of friends to get the job done and share a potluck meal at noon. Their help is indispensable and another reason that we have been at this since 1996.
Food trends come and go. When we started, "organic" and "free range" were the buzz words. Both those labels have had their definition diluted by the USDA. "Natural", "green", and "local" are the latest trends. We advise the consumer to �cut to the chase� and find a grower that they know and trust. Then, don�t hesitate to ask the �hard� questions. What do you feed? How often are the birds moved? What do you do about predators? How do you kill the birds? What do you do with the guts and feathers? Why does your product cost twice the price of super market poultry?
Visitors are always welcome at the farm. Instead of trusting a USDA employee to inspect your food, come out and see for yourself how your food is raised. We welcome your critique and value your kind words. It is your heartfelt thanks that buoy us after a long, hard day.