Chickens can’t live on grass alone. And there is good reason for this.
If we fed our poultry 100% grass and didn’t incorporate the essential grain they need in their diet, then they wouldn’t survive.
Many of our customers ask us whether our chickens are fed exclusively on grass, and we have to tell them, no – absolutely not, because just grass would mean unhappy birds.
Chickens have far more complex dietary needs to our ruminants, mainly down to the fact that they cannot make amino acids – the building blocks that form proteins. They need a varied diet including protein, grains, greens, grit, calcium, vitamin A and D, salt, and of course, water.
Grass can’t provide our chickens with the protein or calcium needed in a balanced diet for poultry, so we give our free range pasture-raised chickens additional organic grain which provides them with a nutritionally complete and balanced diet, free from antibiotics and GMOs.
What is crucial for us is that our chickens have the opportunity to eat as much fresh pasture as they choose. It’s for this reason that they have 24-hour access to grass. This unlimited access ensures they can obtain all the nutrients provided in our herb-rich leys, and pecking for grubs and worms keeps the pastures healthy and stops the chickens getting bored. The grain tops them up with all the extras that they might otherwise not get.
Typically you’ll find “free range” chickens kept in static sheds and only a proportion will leave to find pasture. That’s where we differ – as our chickens are moved in their pens daily and have constant access to the green stuff.
The American Pastured Poultry Producers’ Association (APPPA) has carried out studies on the nutritional values of pastured poultry, and has found chickens, like ours, with constant access to pasture, to be more nutrient dense compared to non-pastured chicken and eggs, specifically in term of higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins, A and E.
Where all poultry is fed grain, not all poultry gets access to pasture. Some – those which are intensively farmed – will have no access to the outdoors, and pasture will not be included in their diets. Some, as we explain earlier, are free range but will not necessarily have the same access to pasture.
So although we will never say our chickens are 100% grass-fed, we can promise you that they are 100% healthy, and 100% happy!
You can find out more about how we rear our poultry and the way they live by visiting our Chicken page.