Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Broilers on pasture

It's officially Spring at Polyface. The broilers are in the field on pasture. At 3 weeks old, after they have come out of the brooder we move the birds to the field where they stay until they are 8 weeks old. They are in floorless, 10'x12' field shelters that are moved every single day to fresh pasture. We have about 70 birds per shelter. If you look closely at this picture, you can see where the birds have been and where they are going. They are headed away from us in the photo. Much to many folks suprise, they do eat the grass!Every day we use this special made dolly to move the pen one space to fresh pasture. The pens are lined up in a V-shape like a flock of geese, to maximize the most of the field. They are also our fertilization program for fertilizing the grass for the cows. No chemicals or pesticides here!

The dolly is slipped under one end and then the pen is pulled from the other end. The broilers just follow along excited for the new section of grass and bugs. It takes a couple of days to train them when they first go out, but soon they get the hang of it, and immediatly mosey on to the next section the instant we start pulling.

Each pen is equipped with its own water and feed trough, which we fill every day and as the birds get older, we fill them twice per day. The water is kept in a bucket that sits on top of the pen and is gravity fed into their water dish.It takes about 4 minutes to service each pen each day. This includes moving, watering and feeding them.
The birds are in the field for 5 -6 weeks of their life. And this is the Polyface way of raising Pastured Poultry. Fresh air, sunshine, and no staying in the same place for more than a day makes for a happier, healthier chicken. And in turn, if you are what you eat, makes a happier, healthier person.
As of today, we are only two weeks away from the first day of butchering. We process the broilers at 8 weeks old. I'll try to post more on that in a couple of weeks for those of you who might be interested.
If you haven't had the opportunity to visit, I would urge you to do so. We are open every Saturday from 9am-4pm and during the week by appointment if you want to purchase products. If you are just coming to look around, you are welcome 24-7. We have no locks. There is nothing that you can't see, touch, smell, taste, or hear. We at Polyface strive for total transparency. Come on out this summer and bring your kids. It's a perfect environment to teach them how their food is and should be raised.

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