Pasturing and Free Ranging, Part 2

before after

Here’s a nice example of the sustainability of raising chickens on rotational pastures. The photo on the left is from 6 weeks ago and the hens were in this area for a total of 9 days.  At the end of their stay they have eaten a lot of the green grass but haven’t yet scratched everything down to bare earth. It’s time for them to move to a fresh field.

The photo on the right is of the same area of pasture, only 6 weeks later.  While chickens can wear down a particular area of land if left in one spot too long, moving them in a timely manner has great benefits for the hens, the plants, and the soil.  Chickens eat a lot of greenery and bugs in a week but they also leave behind lots of nutrient-rich manure. The manure enriches the soil. Fertile soil allows the grasses to grow back faster and stronger.  Healthy stands of thick grass attract more bugs.  When the hens are rotated back to an area where they were a month or so before, they are greeted with much more grass and insects than were there previously.  More available natural food means they need less supplemental feed, thus producing tastier and healthier eggs. That is sustainability in a nutshell and to me is pure magic.

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