The Chickens of Wolston Farm
As part of an integrated system on our farm we have free range layer hens. Along with providing us with fresh eggs they help keep the insect and parasite population down for the sheep. Eggs are available for purchase at the farm or can be delivered to several locations in the area.
We obtain all our hens as chicks and raise them in the barn before turning them loose to wander the farm eating all the things that chickens love. We supplement the food that they can find with a small amount of drug free commercial feed each day to ensure a consistent supply of eggs and healthy chickens. We have several breeds of chicken that between them lay white eggs, brown eggs and green eggs.
Once they are grown our chickens are never caged or confined. Raised as chick in the barn they consider it their home. They have laying boxes in the barn that they return to to lay in and they also sleep in the rafters of the barn. With the chickens choosing to sleep in the barn and the activity of the livestock guardian dogs we do not have problems with predators attacking the chickens.
We are in the process of designing a new chicken house out further in the fields that will better allow them to forage and will free up the barn better for other activities and events.
Free range chickens are not only happier chickens they produce eggs that are healthier to eat as reported below:
TOPEKA, KANSAS, Aug. 2 -/E-Wire/-- New research by Mother Earth News magazine provides more evidence that industrial agriculture is producing inferior food. Tests of eggs from four free-range flocks found that, compared to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for eggs from confinement production systems, the eggs from chickens raised on free range were much more nutritious — up to twice as rich in vitamin E, up to six times richer in beta carotene (a form of vitamin A) and four times richer in essential omega-3 fatty acids. And, the free-range eggs averaged only half as much cholesterol as the USDA data indicates for confinement-system eggs.
Mother Earth News magazine, a leader of the "Real Food Revival," initiated tests which were conducted by Skaggs Nutrition Laboratory at Utah State University and Food Products Laboratory in Portland, Ore.; data and graphs are available in the August/September 2005 issue of the magazine or at the Mother Earth News Web site, http://www.MotherEarthNews.com/eggs.