Poultry Beginnings

Sarah led expansion of our urban farm with chickens in the spring of 2010. Before the day-old chicks were old enough to move outside, John the Tall and Grampa built a “tractor” that would give the layers space to enjoy being outside with constraints:  it fit in the back yard, protected the birds from the local coyotes and hawks, and could be moved every day. We could comfortably support about 12 chickens in a ecological, healthy manner.

All the neighbors knew or had heard rumors about our chickens! Every weekend that first summer and the next, neighbors we didn’t know brought their youthful relatives to see the chickens. 

Poultry Expansion 

Over the next few years, we tried several different kinds of layers to identify the best breeds for our weed and bug control, friendliness, egg production, and free-ranging.

After a few years, some family friends allowed us to use a few acres of nearby land with a small barn. After a winter of clearing brush, a spring of burning brush, and a summer of restoring the barn, we started meat birds in addition to the layers. 

The chicken pasture supported nearly 80 meat birds annually. We experimented again with what breeds were the most efficient foragers (lower feed costs!), grow the quickest, and have the best quality meat. And we learned acutely about the losses that are part of nature.

Poultry Today

In Cedarburg, we built a large, permanent chicken enclosure for meat birds. It’s more than an eighth-acre with perennial and annual pasture grasses and paddock separations to manage pasture health. Our laying birds (chickens and ducks) are free-range. 

And we added ducks and turkeys!

We can house 150 chickens, 15 turkeys, and 20 ducks at once . Our birds are all-but organic (everything but the label), and our new goal is to find a way to raise birds on an open pasture so that they will have even more space, more forage, and more bugs -- and we can provide healthy food to more families with less cost.

Relationship between Environment and Food Quality

You might have heard that brown eggs are healthier than white eggs because “that’s what eggs are supposed to look like.” This is patently untrue! 

All eggs are created equal. Or rather – all eggs produced under the same conditions are created equal.  There are minor differences in meat taste by breed, but all breeds produce a more flavorful meat on pasture.

The quality of animal products (eggs, dairy, and meat) is far more closely related to the quality of food/land the animal is raised on than whether or not the animal product is from a cow, chicken, goat, pig, or turkey (with a few exceptions, like the higher iron concentration in red meat) . The true beauty of animal products is that the animals concentrate the nutrition from the plants, seeds, and bugs for us.

Poultry Environmental Impact

Of the Land is deeply committed to serving as stewards of the land for our generation and for many future generations of birds and people.

There are several benefits of our no-till perennial pasture grasses and forbs (legumes, cloves, and alfalfa) and the natural fertilizer from our animals.

  • Of the Land is restoring hydration, nitrogen, carbon, and other nutrients to the soil which increase the quality of the pasture forage and the animals that eat it.
  • Of the Land is improving the greater ecosystem by simultaneously reducing erosion and supporting increasing natural diversity of the native habitat.
  • Because we do not over crowd our poultry they do not require antibiotics to stay healthy, and the soil is able to naturally benefit from their fertilizer, and the fertilizer does not be come a pollutant.