Free-range Poultry

Production of housed chickens for meat is the preserve of large producers these days because of very tight margins (10-20 pence per bird), but there are possibilities for smaller producers of free-range or organic chickens.

The intensive producers use hybrid breeds that take only 30 - 40 days from hatching to slaughter and there is no room for error, but free range and organic chickens have a more leisurely growth period of 80 - 100 days. Their advantage is a higher perceived value, normally accompanied by a better margin. It is a more labour intensive operation, but because the birds are not confined they are less prone to disease. An advantage for the farmer is that most dung does not need to be collected and spread and, by rotating the area of land used, highly fertilised acres become available for other purposes, saving on input costs.

By treating the land on which the chickens are housed, with a tailor-made trace element dressing, they will enjoy the benefit of correctly mineralised soils when they eat any grass or residual crops growing in that soil. It is also straightforward to treat fields in which are grown cereal crops to provide feed for the birds. This will ensure that the birds are acquiring the correct balance of nutrients in their diet (the crop takes the nutrients from the soil as Nature intended) and not a factory-engineered supplement.


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