Pastured poultry is all about movement. They need to be moved daily on pasture both to give them fresh bedding and to provide them with extra nutrition. To facilitate this they require mobile portable shelters. The portable shelters are bottomless giving them full access to pasture, if you multiply the amount of daily moves by the total area they cover it adds up to a very large chunk of pasture per chicken. The benefit for the pasture is that it evenly spreads manure boosting fertility, which is beneficial for our cattle and when the chickens eventually come back to the same paddock it will be in better condition than the last time giving them a further boost in nutrition. You cannot move large static sheds. You cannot call large sheds with openings, "pastured poultry", there is another overused term you can use.
Genuine Pasture Raised Chicken
Unlike fake "free range" spending 95% of their time in sheds, our chickens don't get any choice and are out on pasture full-time once they have graduated from the brooder (2-4 weeks depending on the time of year). We have adaptable housing, bottomless shelters on pasture that are more closed in the colder months and allow more air to flow in the warm weather, we also deploy shade cloth on shelters in the hot weather.
Antibiotics are routinelty added to the feed of poultry. It is added because it increases the rate of growth. The problem is that widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed accelerates the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria. You also have the issues of residues of pharmaceuticals in the bodies of the chickens and their manure. We use no antibiotics.
Small flock size
In a typical poultry operation chickens are housed in sheds of around 10,000-50,000. This causes extra stress. We run small flock sizes of around 70 per shelter.
Whole and cracked grains, plus free choice grit
Conventional poultry are only fed pellets. We feed our chickens a diet that includes whole and cracked grain. They also always have access to shell grit. Chickens don't chew their food. Grit helps the chickens’ digestive system function. The grit helps grind down the food in the gizzard, keeping their digestive system happy!
Slower Growth Rates
Supermarket chickens are kept in climate controlled sheds and really don't have much to do except, eat,drink, $#!t and sleep. Outdoors, the temperature varies, and so do other things like the quality of the pasture over the year, the type of insects and grubs that are available. The chickens also have more room to move and forage. All this contributes to a slower growth rate, this allows the skeleton and organs to keep up with the fast rate of muscle growth, making the chickens life more comfortable, lowering mortality rates and allowing for improved development of the muscles. This impacts both the texture and flavour of the poultry in a very positive way. Note as well, we also grow the Joyce's Gold chickens. These chickens are specially bred for the outdoors and are slower growing compared to the conventional white-feathered meat birds (aka "broilers"), so the texture and flavour of these birds are even more distinct.