We believe that everything a hen does affects her and the egg she lays and that a happy hen is a healthy hen. So we ensure that our girls can exercise and forage on pasture or under forage trees everyday.
Our philosophy has always been that the hens provide us with a wonderful product and are entitled to as good a life as we can provide doing so .We have been inspired to realise that this is actually more than a win-win.
For instance, we know that stress effects humans but in hens the effect is measurable. If our girls go through a stressful situation (thunder storm, a snake moving through the house etc.) then we see a drop in not only egg production and quality but immunity as well.
So we do everything we can to reduce their stress and keep the girls happy, it’s better for them and better for us.
We can all learn a lot from hens.
Early in our journey in free range egg farming we realised that although there were new farming techniques and new technologies to help solve issues in free range farm, only a nature based and system lead approach was going to be sustainable.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BUGS!
No one has illustrated the power and importance of micro organisms more than author HG Wells.
In this novel “War of the Worlds” the humans on earth throw everything they have at the invading aliens from Mars but are defeated. When all seems lost and humankind about to be exterminated, the Martians inexplicably start to fall over and die. It is the Martians lack of immunity to our bacteria, virus etc, that is their undoing.’The bugs’ come to our rescue!
By trying to work with nature we can get better results. It’s not always about total elimination but striving for a balance and promoting exclusion as well inclusion Having an immune system that is primed and pumping means a better chance of fighting invaders and keeping that balance.
Hens were jungle creatures originally and would have picked up bugs and pathogens from their mother and their environment to create a powerful gut biome but we can mimic this in our farming world by providing probiotics and prebiotics in their diet from birth. Phytol nutrients that they might have picked up on the jungle floor we provide though herbs and other plant based supplements. And our experimentation with fungi has proven an invaluable aid when needing an extra boost to fight an infection.
Kim ensures all the hens get some special compost to stretch in early on to improve their gut flora and fauna!
Although we have nothing against antibiotics and would use them if the hens welfare depended on it, we have proven that preventative health measures can give as good a result and save the other for last resort.