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The Barred Plymouth Rock is a dual purpose heritage breed of chicken that we raise for both eggs and meat. They were the most popular breed of chicken for much of the early 20th century. They are a winter hardy dual purpose breed. They are known for their superior meat qualities and are a good layer of brown eggs.
Pasturing poultry comes with its challenges. Having birds outside means extra work to keep the birds safe from weather and predators.
We start our chicks indoors and move them out to pasture as soon as they have enough feathers to survive a cooler climate (around 4 weeks old). We move the chickens into the “Cackellac” - a mobile chicken coop. It provides protection for the birds and is easily moved. We move the Cackellac regularly in order to give the birds a fresh buffet of grass and bugs. Once big enough to be held in by the wider electrified fencing, they are released from the Cackellac to move even more freely around the pasture.
The chickens follow the cattle in our intensive rotational grazing system. The chickens prefer the shorter grasses after the cattle have mowed the bulk of the pasture. The chickens return the favour by scratching and spreading out the cow manure. As cattle and poultry do not share the same parasites, the chickens sanitize the pasture in order to further prevent the potential for disease when the cattle return to the pasture 30-60 days later.
Chickens generally consume about 10% of their diet from pasture. For the other 90%, we provide a mix of organic grains (spelt, field peas and flax) milled right on the farm.
We process our chickens around 20 weeks old. This means that they are fully mature at the time of processing. All of our chicken is processed at a provincially inspected facility.
Click on the document link to check out our Pastured Poultry Newsletter for more information.