We have been raising chickens outdoors on pasture since 1994. We start with day old unvaccinated chicks and raise them inside a brooder for the first 3 weeks.
We partner with Steve Meggait of Fresh Valley Farm here in Spallumcheen, to mill our own recipe of organic poultry feed using high protein wheat (in transition to certified organic or certified organic as much as possible, certified organic peas, local oats and trace elements. We add skim milk powder to their feed and apple cider vinegar and a probiotic from Belgium to their water while they are in the brooder. In early spring, we supplement this with sprouted grains and oilseeds as well as insects and worms to acclimatise them to the food outside. This mix keeps them active, curious and interested and makes their transition to foraging outside much smoother. Once the weather is warm in late spring, baby chicks will go outside at only a few days old and readily adapt to foraging on the mix of grains, grasses, legumes and oilseeds that we grow for them. We now collaborate with other Okanagan farmers, www.freshvalleyfarm.com, and www.woodcliffefarm.com, to raise chickens using our method, feed regime, pasture practises and quality standards from start to finish. We constantly search for improvements to our systems and working with other like-minded farmers is a tremendous asset to our operation. We have been working on accessing French genetics specially developed for pasture-raised systems as a result of Andrea’s tour of French “Label Rouge” breeder and production facilities in Laval, France in June, 2013.
We raise about 300 Nicholas Heavy White turkeys. We order them in from a hatchery in Western Canada that allows us to make a custom order without automatically de-beaking and de-clawing them. Since we put them outside at about 3 weeks old, they really need their beaks and claws to cope with all the luscious food around them! Baby turkeys love exploring the outdoor world. They are extremely curious and sociable but have very poor risk assessment abilities. This leads to some awkward situations. Luckily for all of us, they provide more than enough entertainment value to compensate for the extra care and attention they often require.
We minimise transportation stress for the chickens and turkeys by using our own Provincially inspected mobile processing facility located either here at our farm or across the Spallumcheen Valley at Fresh Valley Farm. We are dedicated to avoiding stress for our birds since we firmly believe that a happy, healthy animal is essential to produce healthy meat. We minimise stress hormones by placing them carefully in crates while they are asleep before slaughter. This greatly reduces the injury rate and is the most humane way we have found.