Our peeps arrive at the farm within 24-hours of hatching from their eggs. We place the chicks and their starter feed or ‘crumbles’ on kraft paper, right under their water-delivery system. This way the feed doesn’t get lost in the bedding and, within moments, the chicks relax and start to eat and drink. You may wonder how a chick knows how to drink, since there is no mother hen to show them. The water dispensers have little stainless steel balls at the bottom, where the water comes out, and the chicks peck at these shiny objects.
Once they’ve eaten, then the fun starts. Small groups of chicks run here and there, exploring their big, new world. The farm families provide ‘toys’ to keep their birds active. Would you believe our young chicks love to play in-and-around cardboard tubing? As they get older, the chicks peck at and climb on straw bales, ramps and perches. These activities encourage the chickens to jump and play…building healthy bodies and strong muscles. Since our chickens remain active throughout their lives, they rarely suffer from breast blisters. This condition is caused when birds have not developed strong leg muscles and spend too much time resting on their breasts. Active, healthy chickens have much less stress.
Because we provide a low-stress environment, our chickens remain calm and non-aggressive. They’re not stuffed into an overcrowded house, they always have plenty of feed and fresh water, and we never put them through the pain or stress of being de-beaked or de-spurred.
On our organic farms, the chickens are free to go outside, scratch in the dirt, look for bugs in the grass, enjoy the sunshine when it’s warm…. or take shelter inside the house when the weather’s bad. Our outdoor pens are enclosed so no predators can attack the chickens and our farm families always make sure the chicks are safe and secure in the house at night.
Look for my next entry, when I explain what we feed our chicks…and why.