While we would love to pasture raise our broiler chickens, we simply cannot due to limited land access. We have a small acreage and already dedicate a large percentage of it to pasturing our turkeys, our hens, and making space to grow delicious, chemical free produce. While we’d prefer to raise our chickens outdoors, please don’t think that the manner we raise them in is similar to conventionally raised birds.
On a typical pasture raised chicken farm, chicks are either hatched on site or brought in as day old chicks. No matter where they are sourced from, the baby chicks need to spend their first 3-4 weeks (depending on ambient temperatures outside) in a climate controlled brooder. Chicks need 95 degree heat the first few days of their lives, and that temperature requirement drops about 5 degrees per week after. Once they are old enough, fully feathered out, and hardy enough, they are transitioned to chicken tractors, movable structures where the allowed to graze new areas of forage each day. They are raised here until they have reached their target weight and are harvested at 7-9 weeks of age
The industry standard for stocking density for indoor production is around .75 sq ft per bird. We offer over 3 times that amount to our meat chickens. On top of this, we address our bedding needs daily which keeps their bedding dry, reduces bacterial exposure, and improves the quality of air and life for our birds. While giving broiler chickens pasture access allows them to roam and graze on grass, insects, seeds, and other natural food sources, rearing them inside also provides many benefits: