If you come out to visit our farm, be sure to visit our laying hens. Customers at farmers market will often ask us “are your chickens really free range?” I always tell them the same thing: Come out and see for yourself!
Our girls are raised on pasture year round, sunshine, rain or snow. We have been raising chickens on pasture for over twenty years, and we feel certain that the happiest chickens lay the best eggs. Like all the animals on our farm, the hens are given 24/7 access to fresh air, sunshine and clean pasture. How do we do this with birds? We run long, easily movable ‘poultry nets’ all across our pastures, giving the chickens fresh alleys of pasture that keeps them safe from the predators on our farm. Keep in mind, at Smith Meadows, we have a deep seated respect for the balance of nature… that includes our wild neighbors, the foxes and chicken hawks. ‘Respect’, however, doesn’t mean letting them eat our chickens! So, we’re always trying to strike a compromise of best free ranging practices, balanced with basic common sense.
(see our Blog and Video about our free-range chickens HERE)
When you visit, notice how the pasture is given time to rest and recover. After the chickens are done with a swath of grass, we move the nets, allowing the soil time to assimilate the fertilizer they have just spread, and rebound from the grazing. Do chickens really graze? Absolutely! You’ll be able to see where the chickens gobbled down the pasture, and the positive response that the land is showing from their presence.
In our opinion, nothing is quite as enjoyable as seeing several hundred chickens walking around on pasture, scratching, searching for bugs, and grazing the grass. By giving our layers fresh pasture and sunshine each day, all of that goodness gets carried along right into the fresh eggs that they lay. Crack one open, and see the sunshine for yourself!