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Grass-Fed Chickens
& Pastured Poultry
Grass-Fed and Pastured Poultry get to eat all the green plant food they desire, as well as myriad bugs and other living things. Tests show great health benefits to the consumer, not to mention superlative taste and tenderness of the meat.

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Grass-Fed Animals Impart the Best Health

Research on the essential fatty acids has not been out very long, so it is no wonder that it is just now getting into the popular press. The gist of the discovery that is coming to light is that, by cleverly concentrating animal feeds using grains, instead of grasses, man has unwittingly led himself down the road to degenerative disease.

This is because our essential fatty acids, which control myriad bodily functions, fall into two families: the Omega-3's and the Omega-6's. The Omega3 group comes from the leaves of green plants (and plankton in the ocean), while the Omega6 group comes from the seeds (for example, grain used in animal feeds). Animals that eat quantities of green plants have very high levels of Omega3. Conversely, animals fed largely on grain, which includes virtually all American feed animals except lamb, are very high in Omega6.

We should have approximately equal amounts of Omega3 and Omega6 in our bodies, or at maximum, not much more than twice the Omega6 as Omega3. But almost all Americans have ten or twenty times more Omega6 than Omega3, a condition that leads to all sorts of degenerative disease. (See more detail at

The way to rectify this fatty acid imbalance is to consume animal products raised on grass or plankton. All sea life is ultimately based on plankton, so all seafood is balanced in favor of Omega3. The fattier the fish, the more Omega3. Lamb is almost all grass-fed, so that is another fine source of Omega3. Conveniently, simply adding flax seed to poultry diets increases their Omega3 concentration dramatically, and eggs from these chickens are now widely available, even at Safeway. Look for the words "Omega 3" on the carton. (As I perused the breakfast menu at Denny's recently, I asked if they have Omega 3 eggs. "Sure, we can make it three eggs," I was told.) Outside Fresno, California there is now a fabulous dairy, Organic Pastures, whose cows are on glorious, irrigated pasture all year. They produce raw milk, butter, cream, and colostrum. They will ship their milk via UPS anywhere in the US. Searching the Internet for the words "grass-fed" will yield many meat producers who will ship their grass-fed products to you.

So with all these choices, there's no excuse for not getting our fatty acids back into balance. But the very best, most vibrantly healthful way to eat, is to locate and build a relationship with a local farmer who produces grass-fed products, and eat them as fresh off the farm as possible. Something there is in farm-fresh produce of all kinds that imparts health like nothing else can.

Free Range? Grass-Fed? Pastured?
What are these?

Pastured Poultry:

Thousands of small farms in the US and worldwide produce what is called "pastured poultry". To these farmers, pastured poultry means chickens and other poultry raised right on top of living grasses. This is accomplished by keeping the birds in low, wide, bottomless cages called "chicken tractors" that are moved to a new spot of fresh pasture once or more often each day.

This enables the birds to eat all the varied, living grasses, other plants, insects, etc., that they can find. Since chickens also need grain, they cannot be totally grass-fed, according to several experts. In the chicken tractors are grain feeders, and watering devices. Chickens will eat up to 30% of their calories in grass (and that's a LOT of grass), if allowed access to unlimited supplies. Pasturing the poultry assures that they have these supplies of living grass at all times.

A few purists want to reserve the term "grass-fed" for animals raised exclusively, 100%, on grass and nothing else. Now, ruminants, such as cows and sheep, can be raised totally on grass, but by all accounts, poultry cannot. (Nevertheless, certain of these purists claim they are raising their private poultry stock on 100% grass.) This confusion of terms has given rise to a false rumor among city meat handlers and restauranteurs that there is no such thing as "grass-fed poultry" because chickens cannot eat grass!!

A few purists say that "pastured poultry" cannot be raised in cages, that pastured poultry means poultry that is free to roam over pasture without physical restrictions. These folks include the addition of grain-based feeds for their "pastured" birds.

But in general usage around the world, "pastured poultry" means chickens raised in chicken tractors that are moved over fresh grass very often, with grain feeders available.


The term grass-fed poultry is a larger group, of which the pastured birds are a sub-set. Grass-fed poultry, among those who are discussing the topic, means birds that are allowed to forage on as much living grasses as they desire, whether in chicken tractors, small coops surrounded by pasture, or the exclusive French "Red Label" birds raised on glamorous par-courses. As long as they get all the grass they want, they qualify to be called "grass-fed." (Experts, please comment below ~ thank you!)

The public, especially in cities but also in the country to a large extent, have no idea how badly the term "free-range" is abused. It is virtually meaningless as a marketing term. One thing must be understood about chickens: they will not walk very far out of their line of sight; they feed on what they see close to them. They won't go around a see-through fence for water. But commercial poultry farmers, I'm told by many sources, have put little doors at the ends of their huge chicken barns, doors that open onto a bare dirt lot, and by doing so, are able to call their product "free-range," whether the chickens ever go outside or not.

Free Range:

"Free range," as used commercially today, simply indicates chickens that are not in cages and do not have a physical barrier between them and the outside of their building. They do not get any living grass. In fact, one prominent health-food-store poultry producer who has slid the advertising words "forage on native grasses" into their advertising, admits to me on the phone that those birds have four square feet of dirt space per bird (2 feet inside, and 2 feet outside), no open range or living grass of any kind. The company cannot find anyone on their premises who can explain to me what "forage on native grasses" means to them. As of this writing, I have not found one company, health-food-store, restaurant or website that sells grass-fed poultry at anything like a fair price (one company will ship, but it comes to $18 per chicken, minimum four birds).

The sad part is, pastured poultry farmers have to allow their birds to be marketed under the term "free range," because the public heads for that term like iron to a magnet. No other marketing term works as well to sell supposedly healthful birds. The fact is, out in the country, and in smaller cities, with some careful searching, people can undoubtedly find some grass-fed poultry among the birds called "free-range." Almost always, it will be found at local farmers' markets, where the small farmer is allowed to sell a certain minimum number of birds a year.

The term "pastured poultry" makes people think of pasteurization; it's hard to say, confusing, and unsexy. It won't sell a flea. "Grass-fed" is just now catching on, but again, the public is still uninformed of its benefits, in fact of the necessity of switching to this method of feeding poultry. It is an unknown term, requires education, is better than "pastured," but it still isn't as sale-worthy as "free range." "Free range" conjures up a picture of chickens running around a healthy, bustling farmhouse, eating grass and other things to their hearts' content. It is the term of choice.

IMHO, we need to get solid governmental regulation to define the characteristics of the term "free range" just as we did with "organic."

It should include the fact that the animal has close and immediate access to as much living pasture or range grass as it desires, each day for as long as it desires to forage. In addition, the animal is kept on a real range, that is, a tract of land, covered with natural pastureland or grassland vegetation, being of a size and to the extent that the number of animals kept on that land will not deplete the forage vegetation on that land.

The Book and Website

by Jo Robinson

"Pastured" and "Grass-Fed" are similar terms, meaning the frequent moving of livestock over good grassland forage. Here is solid nutritional research on the fast-growing pastured farming trend, clearly demonstrating how livestock produced this way contribute to vastly better health in the consumer.

Poultry raised on open grass, instead of in over-crowded lots, are high in beneficial fats and other factors that lower cholesterol and greatly reduce degenerative disease in the consumer! Eating large proportions of living green plants, while foraging for insects and seeds and myriad other natural commodities that science hasn't identified yet, and with minimal need for medication, grassfed animals create more vibrant health than other poultry. Moreover, the meat and eggs are incredibly tasty compared to general market chicken. Currently, restauranteurs are one of the largest groups of purchasers of pastured poultry, but even among the best chefs, there is still very little awareness of the existence of this type of meat, much less about its health benefits.

Jo Robinson is one of those rare writers who (1) completely understand and have widely read the scientific research, and (2) can put it into plain English for the public to read. Here in Why Grassfed Is Best! are many cleanly-constructed charts of data and a full range of pertinent information and research on pastured poultry.

Treat yourself to Why Grassfed Is Best!.

Farmers agree this is THE source

Pastured Poultry Profits
by Joel Salatin
Net $25,000 in 6 months on 20 acres
Paperback, 371 pages, 150 x 230mm, USA, 1993. $30

Top pastured poultry farmers agree that this is THE book for professional instructions in getting started with pastured poultry. This book is even featured in Europe.
The store says: "If you are considering a home business in agriculture, you owe it to yourself to buy this book and study it. If you want to raise chickens for income READ THIS BOOK FIRST."

If you like it simple

The Pastured Poultry Committee of the SoCNY RC&D. If you could have only one contact person for info on pastured poultry, the man at SoCNY, Jim McLaughlin, is the one to know.

What Is Pastured Poultry?
by Farmer/ Author/ Instructor, Andy Lee

[NOTE: See our Posts Section for responses to this wonderful FAQ, posted 2/22/00.]

Contents below include
Sources for More Information (letter N below)
Processing Equipment & Supplies Sources

Public perception in some areas is that antibiotics, growth hormones and meat by-products are routinely fed to commercial poultry to increase profits for large integrator corporations. However, growth hormones and meat by-products are illegal for use in poultry, and antibiotics are used sparingly because of their expense. Additionally, some people feel that concentrations of poultry houses in any given area can lead to environmental degradation and real estate property devaluation. Some people also feel that commercial poultry are treated inhumanely, and that some diseases and illnesses are caused by over-crowding in huge barns without proper ventilation, long-distance transporting in all kinds of weather, and unsanitary commercial processing facilities.

As a result of these perceptions, a steady market exists for poultry products that are grown in a more natural way, such as on pasture. Farmers who take advantage of this public perception can often sell their pasture-based poultry products for premium prices by using well-established language such as "Free-Range" and "Organic". Other reasons to raise poultry on pasture are:

1. Better Food. Recent research in Pennsylvania (see APPPA GRIT! #11) revealed substantial increases in nutritional value of pasture poultry, particularly in Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Vitamin A, and a significant decrease in total fat.

2. More Satisfying Flavor. Many people feel that poultry raised on pasture, in fresh air and sunshine, taste superior to confinement raised poultry. Many also think the naturally raised poultry has a firmer texture and more satisfying "bite".

3. Lower cost entry. Small-scale and limited resource farmers can start a profitable farm enterprise for a fraction of the cost of conventional, integrator-controlled poultry housing. Pasture poultry investments as low as only $1,000 can potentially earn a net return of several hundred dollars per year.

4. Fertility and Pasture management. Moving poultry across the pasture is a way to spread manure and fertility without using excessive equipment or labor.

5. Multi-Cropping. Poultry can be used to scavenge crop residue, and hog down weeds and grasses in multi-crop fields being used for horticulture and floriculture.

Experience of many pasture poultry producers is that 3.5 to 4 pounds of feed are required for each 1 pound of gain. Conventional poultry requires about 2 pounds of feed to get 1 pound of gain. It is entirely possible that pasture poultry requires up to twice the amount of feed as confined poultry.

Pasture poultry generally commands higher prices, therefore the potential for profit is higher than with conventional, confinement poultry. Pasture poultry is usually sold locally, with only minimal processing. Broilers sell for between $1.50 and $2.50 per pound, dressed weight. Turkeys sell between $1.75 and $2.50 per pound. Prices vary between producers. The price difference often depends on whether the birds are sold from the chill tank, or are bagged, weighed, labeled and ready for the freezer. Production costs are usually about 1/2 to 2/3 the sale price. Many producers do not add their labor into production costs. Pasture raised eggs sell for $1.50 to $3 per dozen.

Costs vary between regions and between producers. Pens can range from $100 to $400 depending on size and type. Electrified poultry netting can cost between $1 and $1.50 per lineal foot. Feed costs vary widely across the country, from a low of 8-cents per pound in the Mid-West, to as much as 13-cents per pound in the East and West Coasts. Organic feed generally costs from 50% to 100% more than conventional feed. Many growers add supplemental vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and minerals to their feed ration to overcome stress and to help poultry grow better.

Most pasture poultry producers choose to do their own processing. Reasons given include close to home, earn extra money, and concern about quality control. The biggest reason many growers do processing, however, is that they don¹t have a processing facility nearby that they can take their birds to. In recent times, almost all local poultry processing houses have gone out of business. Large integrator processors that only do company birds have replaced them. In some areas, pasture poultry growers have banded together to build Mobile Processing Facilities. In other cases, growers are choosing to support centralized facilities that are privately owned. Processing equipment costs range from less than $1,000 to more than $20,000, depending on the level of sophistication. Small-scale commercial poultry facilities that will take small quantities of poultry for processing charge from $1 to $3 per broiler, and from $3 to $8 per turkey.


There are FOUR basic methods, including PASTURE PENS, CHICKEN TRACTORS, FREE RANGE, and DAY RANGE. Each method has regional refinements:

1. PASTURE PENS are bottomless pens that hold layers, broilers or turkeys, and are moved daily or as needed to give the poultry fresh pasture. This method was pioneered by Joel Salatin and popularized in his book PASTURE POULTRY PROFITS. It is the most commonly used pasture poultry method at present. A typical pen is 10- x 12- x 2-feet, and holds 80 broilers. About 2/3 of the top is roofed; the rest of the top and sides are covered with poultry wire. Each broiler requires 3-inches of feed trough space, a 10-foot long 6-inch sewer pipe sawed in half lengthwise is a typical feed trough. They need a continual supply of fresh water, up to 15 gallons per day per 80 broilers. Some growers use these pens for layers, and raise 30 or 40 hens, with nest boxes fixed to the pen side. They reach in from outside the pen to gather eggs. These pens are not well suited for turkey production, although some growers do grow up to 20 turkeys per pen.

2. CHICKEN TRACTOR is not really a method, but is often a popular name for the pasture pen system. It has several permutations including free range and day range. It is a permaculture design used to acknowledge the whole system that includes the poultry, the garden, and the grower. This idea was first presented by Bill Mollison, and was further popularized by Andy Lee and Patricia Foreman in their book CHICKEN TRACTOR.

3. FREE RANGE has been practiced for a century or more. This method fell out of favor in the 1960's due to disease and predator inroads, and was mostly replaced by commercial confinement poultry production. Free Range generally means a fenced pasture surrounding the barn or poultry shelter.

4. DAY RANGING is a recent hybridization of chicken tractors and free range. This method is presently being developed by Andy Lee and several leading pasture poultry producers across the country. In the day range system, the poultry are sheltered at night from predators and weather, and allowed to graze in the daytime where they are held in, and predators held out, by portable electric poultry netting.

1. The small shelters are easy and inexpensive to build. When placed on level or gently sloping land they are relatively easy to move with the aid of a dolly or scoot.

2. The small-scale and easy-to-learn method makes it possible for beginning poultry growers to start and be successful with limited financial means.

3. The controlled moves will harvest grass and spread manure uniformly across the field.

4. Perimeter fencing is not required, since each flock is contained within the pasture pen.

5. The pasture pens are nearly predator proof. Daily moves keep predators off-balance. Wire sides and heavy wood frames deter predators. Some deaths do result however, from predators scaring the chickens, causing them to pile up and suffocate. Determined dogs will sometimes get inside these pens. Poultry are safe from flying predators.

I. WHAT ARE THE DIS-ADVANTAGES OF PASTURE PENS AND CHICKEN TRACTORS? 1. The small pens hold relatively few poultry, compared to their cost.

2. Poultry are removed from the brooder at two to three weeks of age and placed outdoors in minimal shelter. This sometimes results in stress, hypothermia and frequent mortalities.

3. The two-foot high roof on the pasture pens can trap heat, leading to heat stress that causes losses in weight, and sometimes mortalities. The roof is too low for turkeys to stretch and raise their heads to full height.

4. In rough or hilly land the heavy pens are difficult to move without injuring the person, or crushing chicks or poults. Recent innovations with PVC pens make the pens lighter and easier to move. These PVC pens are more expensive, and can blow over in high winds.

5. Pasture pens offer only minimal protection from weather. Even under the best of circumstances the poultry grown in these pens require up to a third longer, and require up to two times as much feed, as confinement raised poultry.

6. Daily chores are time-consuming, given the small number of birds serviced at each location.

7. Even though the pasture pens are moved daily, the poultry only has a brief period of fresh graze before the new site is contaminated with manure. And, unless the pen is moved again at dusk, the birds have to bed down in manure-soaked grass. This is unhealthy and unsightly, and leads to dirty feathers, feather loss and skin sores.

8. The individual pens are hard to move around in market gardens so the poultry can harvest grass and weeds and insects.

1. More birds can be held in a given area, and can be taken care of in less time, compared to pasture pens.

2. Poultry are free to move around, thus able to forage more naturally for grasses, legumes and bugs. This is especially useful in market gardens where poultry are used to harvest weeds and grasses and insects, and to spread manure as fertility for the following crop.

3. Poultry are often cleaner, since they don¹t bed down in manure as in the pasture pens.

1. Predator losses can decimate entire flocks in a short time.

2. Perimeter fences required to keep in poultry and keep out predators can be very expensive to install and hard to maintain.

3. Flock pressure is greater on some portions of the site, leading to over-grazing and soil/sod damage. Areas around doorways and near the shelter are often muddy, fecal laden sites which are ugly and unhealthy.


1. After they leave the brooder, poultry are housed in a mini-barn, which protects them from weather extremes and predators. This gives them an intermediate hardening off area before going onto cold or wet ground.

2. Because the poultry only use the shelter at night, each shelter can safely handle twice as many poultry as the pasture pens and chicken tractors.

3. Expensive perimeter fencing is not required because the grower keeps the flock in, and predators out, with portable electrified poultry netting.

4. The area for poultry to graze is moved regularly by repositioning the poultry netting. This eliminates over-grazing, and gives the poultry continual access to fresh, growing pasture.

5. In inclement weather, the poultry can be held longer in the shelter thus protecting them from stress and illness.

6. Chores are much faster, since feeding and watering are done in the open fenced area and the shelter is only moved infrequently. Sometimes the shelter is moved weekly, other times the shelter will stay in one location for a month or longer, even for an entire season.

1. This method requires more manager attention to pasture rotations, rather than just methodically moving the pens each day.

2. The shelter is more expensive than the pasture pen, because it has a floor. The floor is covered with bedding to soak up manure. The bedding is cleaned out at the end of each flock, and used for compost. Planer shavings or sawdust are best, since they soak up the moisture from the manure. Keeping the bedding deep enough and dry is important, otherwise it will cake, leading to dirty birds and unhealthy conditions.

3. About 1/3 to 1/2 of the poultry manure is captured in the bedding. This is good from a composting standpoint, but the bedding does require handling, whereas the pasture pen is moved daily, and the manure is spread evenly along the path of travel.

4. Poultry are protected from most predators by the electric poultry netting, but it does not deter flying predators such as hawks and owls.


CHICKEN TRACTOR, $20, 350 pages, Andy Lee and Patricia Foreman.
PASTURE POULTRY PROFITS, $30, 350 pages, Joel Salatin.
FREE RANGE POULTRY, 2nd Ed., $40, 180 pages, Katie Thear
CHICKEN HEALTH HANDBOOK, $20, 340 pages, Gail Damerow
GUIDE TO RAISING CHICKENS, $15, 340 pages, Gail Damerow
RAISING YOUR OWN TURKEYS, $10, 135 pages, Leonard Mercia
All are available from your bookstore, or through
Good Earth Publications,
20 GreenWay Place
Buena Vista, VA 24416
Ph. 540-261-8874
Fax 540-261-8775


PasturePoultry, via Yahoo!Groups. Read all the recent posts by expert farmers about the terms Grass-Fed, Pastured, and Free-Range, even if you don't join the group.

APPPA GRIT!, the quarterly newsletter of the 500-member American Pasture Poultry Producers Association, c/o Diane Kaufmann, 5207 70th St, Chippewa Falls, WI 54729. $20 annual membership dues, includes newsletter.

SMALL FARM TODAY Magazine regularly carries articles on pasture poultry and small-scale sustainable agriculture. $21 year, 6 issues, 3903 West Ridge Trail Road, Clark, MO 65243, phone 800-633-2535. Has an excellent book catalog.

ACRES USA, 12 issues, $24. PO Box 91299, Austin, TX 78735, phone 512-892-4400. Covers wide range of sustainable agriculture topics. Has an excellent book catalog.

STOCKMAN GRASS FARMER, 12 issues $28. PO Box 2300-M, Ridgeland, MS 39158. 800-748-9808. The grazier¹s voice, regular in-depth articles on pasture based poultry and livestock systems. Has an excellent book catalog. Email to Alana Britt, Sales Coordinator


Ashley Equipment
PO Box 2
Greensburg, IN 47240

Brower Equipment
PO Box 2000
Houghton, IA 52631

R and R Pluckers
Rob Bauman
RD 1
Oxford, NY 13830

Pickwick Zesco
7887 Fuller Road Suite 116
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

6003 E. Eales Rd.
Hutchinson, KS 67501

David Schafer
Rte 5 Box 33
Trenton MO 64683

Koch Supplies (bags, supplies, food processing)
Kansas City, MO

Matthiesen Company (bags, supplies)
San Antonio, TX

Cryovac Sealed Air Corporation
Duncan, SC
waterproof, shrink wrap bags

end of FAQ

Please send comments and suggestions to:
Andy Lee
Good Earth Organic Farm
1702 Mountain View Road
Buena Vista, Virginia 24416
Phone and Fax 540-261-8775
Email: goodearth at

Get your CAR or TRUCK ... UNSTUCK !!

grass-fed chicken and poultry
grass-fed chicken and poultry



Organic Chicken Feed at

Grass Fed Links

What is "Grass Fed"? What is "Free Range"?
Chicken-Feed's extracts of discussions of the many poultry marketing terms now being used
This is "THE" website for information on grass-fed meat, dairy and poultry products

Grass-Fed Fact Compendium from

Scientific facts, in quantity and detail, about grass-fed animal products

Slanker Meats
Purely grass-fed chicken, beef ~~ full range of products, much info

American Pastured Poultry Producers Association, with newsletter, links, info of all kinds

Radio Interview on Pastured Dairying --- THIS IS HOT!

"Cattle Meant to Eat Grass" Canadian CBC News Article

All about Fats: Omega-3's
Chicken-Feed's extracts describing dietary fats, including Omega-3's, -6's, LDL and HDL cholesterol, trans fats, etc.

PasturePoultry at

Join 900 poultry farmers as they discuss this endeavor via email

Good Earth Publications
Books on pastured poultry farming by Andy Lee, Joel Salatin, and others

Pastured Poultry Committee, NY
Mobile processing unit makes grass-ranged poultry processing more feasible

Types of Feed

Broiler: feed blend for chickens that are growing as fast as possible, in order to be harvested for meat as early as possible

Crumbles: pellets broken up into smaller pieces

Grower: approximately the same as "Starter"

Layer: feed blend for chickens that are laying eggs, having extra calcium and protein added

Mash: a blend of several feed ingredients, ground to a small size but not to a powder

Pellets: small kernels of compressed mash, causing birds to eat the whole blend, not pick and choose

Scratch: whole grains fed separately to chickens, usually scattered on the ground or litter of the coop; usually a mixture of grains, such as wheat, rye, oats, etc. (corn/maize must be cracked before using as scratch grain)

Starter: a blend of feed for chicks and growing birds, usually in the form of mash; approximately the same as "Grower"; can be replaced with "adult" food as soon as chicks go for it, somewhere between 4 and 8 weeks of age

Feed Ingredients Amino acid: a molecule that is one building block of protein; there are many different amino acids, most of which can be manufactured in the body; the few that cannot must be supplied by foods, and are called "Essential Amino Acids"; a food that supplies all 8 essential amino acids is called "complete"

Bran: the outer coating of a kernel of grain; extremely high in silicon, which slows down its decomposing in the soil; cheap by-product of milling, often given away free by large mills

Calcium: provided by sea shells, crushed bone, and fresh or dried greens --- amounts need to be measured closely, if not free range; must be provided in higher quantities as soon as chickens begin to lay eggs

Concentrate: a blend of protein-rich foods, plus any other nutrients desired; usually fed together with a grain ration

Corn: American term meaning maize corn, or "corn on the cob" (in England "corn" means what grain means in the US, that is, all food grains)

Element: a substance made up on just one kind of atom; there are 100 or so kinds of atoms in the universe; each kind of atom has its own unique characteristics; usually, these atoms are not stable by themselves, and must combine with each other, or with other types of atoms, to form stable molecules (see "Trace elements")

Germ: the embryo plant inside a kernel of grain; very nutritious and high in protein; wheat and rice germ (also called "rice polish") are a saleable by-product of milling

Grain: American term meaning any small, hard seeds, especially grass-family seeds (called corn in England); provides energy, B vitamins, phosphorus, and the whole grains are a fair source of protein, too

Grit: angular, hard crushed rock, preferably from granite, used by the chickens in place of "teeth" --- seashells and bone CANNOT substitute for grit; for confinded birds, grit should be offered several times a month at least; it should be of the right size for the age of the bird (see Baby Chicks page); birds allowed to free range don't need to be offered grit -- they find their own ideal sizes and types to suit themselves

Kelp: sea-weed, plants that grow in the sea; contains all the minerals of the earth; all kelp is edible, and can easily be dried and fed to chickens by clipping a sheaf of it to something in their area (also, this replaces any need to add salt to their rations)

Middlings: an old milling term for the parts of the kernel that are milled off with the germ, and probably contain both the starch and bran (please email me if you have more specific information :-)

Minerals: non-life-created chemicals, in molecular form, found in nature; actually, "minerals" is a broad category of compounds usually thought of as originating in the earth --- the term "elements" or "trace elements" is more exact; minerals and vitamins can be added to dietary regimens to improve health; sea water contains all the minerals of the earth, in their natural forms and safe amounts; "trace minerals" are those needed in relatively very tiny amounts, and can be highly toxic if these amounts are exceeded; "macro-minerals" are those needed in large amounts, such as calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium

Protein: any food high in amino acids, used to build tissues; protein quality is determined by the "completeness" of the amino acid varieties in the food source; all meats, eggs of all kinds, milk, cheese, nuts, seed germs, and soy beans are high protein sources

Trace elements: the rare kinds of elements that the body may need in infinitesimally small amounts to do very specialized things that science may not have discovered yet; sea water, and kelp, contain all the elements on Earth, and thus is a good source of trace elements (see "Elements")

Vitamin: an old, general term meaning "life-giving"; a chemical found in nature or made by man to imitate natural ones; new vitamins, and new uses for known vitamins, are always being discovered

Methods of Raising Poultry
Cage-free: This just means the chickens are not in cages; they may be in barns that they never leave (even though there might be a little door at one end; chickens don't go out of their field of vision for food, or even for water); or they may be in large open fenced bare-dirt yards that the chickens have stripped long ago of all vegetation

Fenceless free-range: No barriers, physical or functional, separate the chickens' living and nesting quarters from access to real pasture AND the chickens actually go out on this pasture to feed as much as they desire

Free-range: The public thinks, or hopes, that this means chickens which are out in the grassland around a real farm; actually, it's a rather meaningless term, since it is often abused by unscrupulous poultry operations that "convert" to "free range" by putting a tiny door in huge commercial poultry barns, then claiming that the chickens have "access" to the out of doors. To legally qualify to use the term, chickens need only have a small patch of dirt to be on instead of a cage; the term legally does not require any "range" diet at all. In actual practice, since the public believes in this term, really good grass-ranged poultry is sometimes labelled "Free Range" simply because the retailer chooses this term over the cumbersome "pastured poultry" term. We propose that the term "Grass-Ranged" be adopted to indicate limitless and close access to real, living grassland resulting in actual free-choice consumption of grasses and associated plants and animals.

Grass-ranged: able to roam around to choose and eat fresh greens, primarily grass but including all the vast variety of natural pastureland plants and insects without limitation; two grass-range methods of poultry raising are "pastured poultry", and "fenceless free range"

Organic: organic food sources must not contain traces of harmful chemicals; the term does not insure that poultry has been raised in the best possible way, with unlimited supply of living grass, but only that the poultry has near zero harmful artificial chemicals

Pastured poultry: poultry kept in movable, floorless pens, moved daily over fresh range pasture; the pens, called "chicken tractors", also contain waterers and grain-feeders; unlike ruminants, chickens need a certain amount of grain along with their grass; if allowed free access to grass, chickens will consume up to 30% of their calories in grass and green plants; pasturing creates the very healthiest chicken meat and eggs (and creates very fertile pastureland, too)

Range: "An open region over which livestock may roam and feed" --- land having enough living, growing grasses, plus a complement of legumes and other plants and perhaps insects and small animals to support livestock of various kinds, including poultry

Types of Chickens
Bantam: a miniaturized chicken of any breed; most breeds have a regular-size and a bantam variety

Banty: same as Bantam

Cockerels: male baby chicks; male young domestic fowl

Hens: female chickens in their second year of lay, or after their first moult

Layers: chickens raised to be egg-layers

Layer-Broiler: chickens raised to be both egg-layer and to be eaten

Meat birds: old term for broilers

Pullets: female chickens in their first year of lay, or prior to their first moult; female baby chicks

Rooster: adult male chicken, or adult male of other domestic or non-domestic fowl

Straight Run: a random mixture of male and female baby chicks, usually less expensive than only pullets


grass-fed chicken and poultry Get your Car or Truck...UNSTUCK!
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