Everything you want to know about pasture-raised chickens
Wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to pasture-raised chickens? Curious about how a chicken’s life changes the food you eat? At Forgotten Flavors we’re committed to making sure our girls are living the “chicken dream” on our 200 acres of regenerative farmland.
Below are answers to some of the questions we get asked most often. Let us know if you think of another we should add to the list!
What do chickens eat on pasture?
While out on pasture with ample amounts sunshine, fresh air, and open skies, our chickens at Forgotten Flavors get the opportunity to forage and enjoy a fresh salad bar of lush greens daily, as well as bugs, insects, grubs and worms. Our chickens also get access to some fresh feed that is specially mixed on farm in small batches and that is chemical-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.
What does “Vegetarian-Fed” chicken and eggs truly mean?
At Forgotten Flavors, we are proud to say that our chickens are Non-vegetarian fed. Chickens are omnivores—they eat both plants and bugs. Our chickens have access to some feed to allow them to grow proper and healthy, but a large portion of their diet is found while foraging on pasture—and is not “vegetarian.” Versus—Chicken claiming to be, “100% Vegetarian Fed.” Even if it sounds nice, it actually means that those chickens were not given access to forage on pasture, and only ate chicken feed.
I’m used to seeing white chickens in conventional operations. Yours are all kinds of colors! What kinds of birds are you raising, and what is their significance?
At Forgotten Flavors we choose to raise Heritage breed chickens. Conventional meat breeds of chickens have been bred to grow extremely quick and with a very large, clumsy and disproportionate breast, that makes balance and mobility for these birds rather difficult. On the egg laying front, conventional layer chickens have been bred to have a small frame/body, and lay an extra-large egg, 360 days of the year. Conventional chickens have purposely been bred to perform in a confined, commercial and industrial agricultural setting whose model and focus is on volume, speed, and efficiency.
Heritage breed chickens, on the other hand, come in many colors, have been around for a long time, grow much slower than the modern industrial breeds, don’t lay as many eggs per year, are more proportionate and balanced resulting in a lot better mobility, and will forage on pastures more aggressively. Because we choose to raise animals regeneratively and recognize the value and importance that they play in our ecosystems, at Forgotten Flavors, we feel that sticking with breeds of chickens that have withstood the test of time is a route worth pursuing. What Heritage breed chickens don’t meet the mark for in efficiencies, they more than make up for in flavor, nutrient-density, and unsurpassed quality. Sometimes producing the most, in the shortest amount of time, and in the cheapest ways possible isn’t always the best.
TASTE THE DIFFERENCE
RESERVE YOUR Pasture-Raised Chicken
Are your chickens really moved every day?
Yes—sometimes several times a day! By moving our chickens (and cows) often and every single day, we guarantee that our animals are given access to the highest quality parts of the plants comprising our diverse pastures and preventing over-grazing. This is extremely important to ensure the best nutrition possible for our animals, and to allow our plants and soils to function at optimum levels while pulling carbon out of our atmosphere and sequestering it in our soils.
How are Forgotten Flavors’ pasture-raised egg-laying and broiler chickens different than industrialized pasture-raised egg-laying and broiler chickens?
Industrialized Pasture-Raised Egg-Laying and Broiler Chickens
- Raised in confinement-style barns that can never be moved
- 20,000 to 45,000 birds per barn
- Fed GMO grains comprised of:
– A little mineral
– Calcium carbonate
- Doors to the outside of the barn with no guarantee that hens are truly foraging on pasture
- Around 100 square feet per bird of outdoor space
Forgotten Flavors’ Pasture-Raised Egg-Laying and Broiler Chickens
- Raised on pasture with access to shelter
- No floors in shelters ensures that even “home-body” hens have access to fresh pasture
- Moved at least 180 times per year
- Less than 300 hens per mobile shelter
- Supplemented with non-GMO, chemical-free, soy-free, grain mix comprised of more than 14 different ingredients including:
– Spring wheat
– Yellow peas
– Whole flax seeds
– Whole fish meal
– Diatomaceous earth
– Fertrell Poultry Nutri-Balancer
– Alfalfa meal
– Crab meal
– Kelp meal
- Each shelter will move across more than 500,000 square feet of pasture each year
Why do you feed your chickens fish meal and crab meal?
Because of the Omega 6:3 health benefits of feeding chickens raised on pasture a soy-free diet, Forgotten Flavors sees the added labor and additional accommodations more than worth the extra effort. Soybeans are a tremendous animal protein source. When you eliminate soybeans from an animal diet, the protein needs of the animal need to be met through other feed ingredients. Many of the soy-free protein alternatives come with limitations to how much one can feed. With chickens being omnivores, two really good soy protein alternatives are fish meal and crab meal. At Forgotten Flavors, we include small amounts of both of these ingredients in our supplemented, soy-free poultry feeds.
Do the chickens like living out on pasture?
Our chickens LOVE living out on pasture! I can very vividly remember the first time that I experienced chickens being raised out on pasture, and how content they seemed. I remember thinking to myself—“Gosh, they look so happy and free!”—that every chicken ought to be raised this way. However, unfortunately, only a tiny percentage of the billions of chickens that get raised in the United States every year, ever get to experience living out on pasture.
There is no smell or dust out on pasture. The chickens have ample room to forage and express their natural behaviors of pecking, scratching and dusting. They have a variety of lush, fresh greens to feast on, along with treats of bugs, grubs, worms and insects. There is unlimited amounts of fresh air and sunshine. And never far away, is their open-floored, mobile chicken coop that follows with the chickens as they move amidst the pastures, to provide a place to roost away from predators in the evenings, shade in the heat of the Summer, and shelter and protection from rain and inclement weather. It is truly an incredible life! If the chickens didn’t enjoy living out on pasture, then there wouldn’t be such a stark difference in the ultra-quality, flavors, nutritional value, and health benefits of the products that they produce. Happy animals produce healthy and nutrient-dense foods.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve experienced with a chicken?
Feeling like a Rockstar every time I am around the girls! It is amazing how quickly they recognize my voice and gate and will come running with wings flapping eagerly toward my feet, so as to be first in line and not miss out on any potential treat. Their intelligence, curiosity and precision never cease to fascinate and humor me, from soaring across the coop or outdoor space in excitement, to perfectly perching on my shoulder or head, to snatching a grasshopper or flying bug directly out of mid-air with their beak!
TASTE THE DIFFERENCE
RESERVE YOUR Pasture-Raised Chicken
It takes a chicken 26-30 hours to lay an egg—so, not quite one egg a day.
Why do you fence your chickens and not let them graze everywhere, everyday?
Our chickens (and cows) are fenced in to prevent overgrazing. Each coop is moved every single day, sometimes even multiple times a day to prevent overgrazing and to ensure that our animals are given access to only the highest quality parts of the plants comprising our diverse pastures. Controlled grazing allows our plants and soils to function at optimum levels while pulling carbon out of our atmosphere and sequestering it in our soils.
How many square feet or acres do Forgotten Flavors’ chickens get access to?
Chickens at Forgotten Flavors follow behind our grazing cows and will cycle through our 200 acres of pasture several times in a growing season. Our mobile chicken coops will move across more than 500,000 square feet of pasture each year!