Do pastured chickens need grains?
I found a place nearby to purchase pastured eggs and chickens but he says he also supplements them with grains. Is this normal? He says they aren't able to get all of the nutrition they need from just foraging but I wasn't sure if they were are not. This is the email he sent me:
First of all, thank you for taking the time and interest in our products. In addition, I would like to thank you, also, for supporting local agricutlure and family farmers.
Kevin, my operation is primarily focused on pastured poultry for both, eggs and meat. Our egg layers are housed in hen houses where they lay eggs and are protected from the elements of the weather. Adjacent to the hen house, we have lush pastures where the egg layers roam freely. The pastures are chemical free (for the past decade) and while on pasture, the hens have access to grass, bugs, exercise, and fresh air & sunshine. It is very difficult for a producing hen to actually gain all of her nutrient requriements on pasture alone. We feed our hens a small grain supplement that gives them the protien, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that are lacking on the pasture. The grain that we feed is "ALL NATURAL, VEGETERIAN BASED" that does not have any steriods nor anti-biotic.
In addition to the laying hens, we also have poultry for meat. Those chickens are also housed out in the pasture in portable pens that we move daily so they have acces to fresh, lush greens. They are also given a small grain supplement that they cannot get on pasture alone.
NONE OF OUR POULTRY ARE GIVEN ANY STERIODS, ANTI-BIOTIC, OR ADDED HORMONES.
Also Kevin, all of our poultry are raised with animal welfare standards applications. For example, all of our poultry have more than the regular indoor and outdoor space requirements.
Every egg and every chicken sold by our family is fully guarenteed with our family's promise of quality. We only sell what we grow. **Please be careful with other suppliers out there, as they buy at auction and re-sell. **
In addition, we also have vegetables available throughout the season which are grown without any heavy chemical usage.
All of our products are available at our homestead in SPRINGDALE, PA. We arrange pick-ups throughout the week.
EGGS: $ 3.50 / dozen
POULTRY: $ 3.25 (2009 prices... 2010 N/A)
Does this sound like what I'm looking for? It's one of the cheaper places I've found for eggs and chickens so far (if this is what pastured is supposed to be) though I'll need to start finding some farmers markets around to see if I can find some a little cheaper possibly.
My egg farmer does feed some grain but they get the bulk of their nutritiion from foraging. I think unless they're in moveable pens or a "chicken mobile" that can transport them around the land to new areas for foraging, they'd probably have a difficult time gathering their requirements from a fixed outdoor space. I'm ok with the small amount of grains my guy feeds his chickens. For me it's outweighed by convenience (I can walk to his house from mine) and that fact that I literally get to meet and know all the chickens (I know most of their names) and my farmer LOVES his chickens and spends time with them - treats them like pets. For me a happy chicken = a happy egg.
ETA: I get 3 dozen for $10.