Tag Archives: Free range

BuyingPoultry.com – A Kickstarter Campaign

A free buying guide that takes the guesswork out of finding alternatives to factory farming.


Have you ever looked at a food label and thought, “Sounds good, but I have no idea what this means?” You’re not alone!

With so many food choices and claims out there, it’s hard to know where to get real information. What do Cage FreeFree RangeNatural, and Organic even mean? Is there a difference?

Our food choices have a huge impact on the world. People are purchasing food with increasing concern for ethical and social issues. Consumers are demanding more locally, humanely, and sustainably-produced animal products and plant-based alternatives.

That’s where BuyingPoultry.com comes in!

For the past four years, we’ve been working with high-welfare poultry farmers and animal welfare experts to create BuyingPoultry.com—a free buying guide that takes the guesswork out of choosing the most humane and sustainable poultry products and plant-based alternatives.

Buying Poultry will list every poultry producer and poultry certification in the United Sates and also tell you how they treat their animals, their employees, and the environment.

With BuyingPoultry.com, you’ll be able to see who’s best and who’s worst in the U.S. and in your local grocery store. We’ll list what each company can do better and make it easy for you to add your voice to the cause. We’ll also give you information about the best plant-based alternatives and where you can find them.

Best of all, it’ll be FREE and easy to access on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. 

Seems like a great idea, right? We think so too.

But creating a free tool that is comprehensive, authoritative, and functional isn’t as easy as it sounds. We have an amazing team of animal welfare experts and digital ninjas assembled to make Buying Poultry a reality.

Now all we need is your support!




Kathryn and Michael Vogelenzang

In 2009 Home4Hens was founded by Kathryn and Michael Vogelenzang in Dumfries and Galloways to become the first chicken rescue and rehoming organisation in Scotland.

Their mandate was simple, to give commercial laying hens a future after farming. Their aim, to help to provide a free-range retirement for ex-laying hens otherwise destined for slaughter.

”We launched our hen rescue after collecting 6 hens to keep as pets from a local farm. Within 30 minutes of watching the hens explore their new lifestyle we realized that we wanted to do more so we returned the following day and brought home 20 more hens! The urge to provide a better future for ex-commercial hens grew with our enjoyment of watching them and so we decided to launch Homes4Hens.”

PictureHome4Hense buy ‘commercially spent’ hens from UK farmers who support the work of the charity.  The girls are treated to a health check up, ensuring their best care and attention before releasing them to loving homes.

If you choose to re-home a few hens from Home4Hens we’re sure you will find it as rewarding an experience as we do. Not only are you providing commercial chickens with a well earned retirement and saving them from slaughter but they also reward you with great eggs and great entertainment.

Website: http://www.homes4hens.co.uk/index.html

Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Homes4Hens-Battery-Hen-Rescue/311860965493589?fref=ts

Domesticated and Grazed Turkeys

Our friend, P. Allen Smith, discusses the majesty of the wild turkey, spends a little time with grazed turkeys and discusses how turkeys are raised and domesticated in today’s world.

If there was a symbol of Thanksgiving it would have to be one of these. But this is no ordinary turkey. In fact, this one is really pretty lucky since it’s not on someone’s dinner table and it has been raised in a very unique way.

This bird and all of his friends are being grown not the conventional way in large houses, but with a more old fashioned approach, they are all field grazed. Grazing them on pastures like this is a spin on the free range idea except this goes one step further. It sort of serves as a mobile corral that protects the birds and keeps them under control, but also allows them to feed on fresh green grass daily.

Moving them is simple. This entire coup can be rolled forward by a single person. It’s made of light weight materials and it has wheels at the rear.

An added benefit to this controlled grazing is the poultry litter. You see, it’s loaded with nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, all the things that make our garden grow. And it can turn this pasture green seemingly overnight.

But too much of anything can be a problem. How the poultry industry disposes of its waste has become a major issue in many states. With this method the waste doesn’t concentrate in one area building up in the soil or water so it doesn’t pose a problem to the environment.

This isn’t a new concept, it’s the way turkeys were raised in the 1930’s and 40’s and just as it did then, today it allows a small farmer to raise a crop in a sustainable way.

Cage free, free range and pastured – what does it really mean?

You think you know what ‘cage free’ is right?  Probably even the term, ‘free range‘?  But do you know what they really mean and why a new term, ‘pastured’ is coming into prominence?  This brilliant little film from PBS will reveal all.


Running Time: 6:00
[featuring David Evans, Alexis Koefoed, Nancy Gleason]
produced by Laura Howard-Gayeton
directed and written by Douglas Gayeton
edited and animated by Pier Giorgio Provenzano

Can learning the meaning of a single term actually help change the food system?  David Evans and Alexis Koefoed think so.  These poultry farmers explain the real story behind such terms as “cage free, “free range” and “pasture raised” so that consumers can make informed decisions when they go to their local supermarket.


David Evans
A third generation farmer in West Marin, David raises pastured poultry and grassfed beef for customers across the entire San Francisco Bay Area.
Marin Sun Farms
“Pasture Management”
Inverness, CA

Alexis Koefoed
Soul Food Farm
“Pasture Raised vs. Cage Free
Vacaville, CA


It’s a multiplatform project based on a simple premise: people can’t be expected to live more sustainable lives if they don’t know the most basic terms and principles that define sustainability.  Filmmaker/photographer Douglas Gayeton and producer Laura Howard-Gayeton have crisscrossed the United States to learn this new language of sustainability from its foremost practitioners.  Their unusual “crowd-sourcing” approach allows the public to suggest ideas and even host shows of the work. These methods have helped transform their grassroots project into an international organization with volunteers across the globe.

Please take a look: http://www.lexiconofsustainability.com/

Chicken Run Rescue

Every year battery hens, having spent their lives in the service of the egg laying industry, face the inevitability of certain death.  They’ve done their job and are considered no longer fit for purpose.

However, there is hope.  Organisations like Chicken Run Rescue, created by Jo Eglen, take these birds and give them a second chance at life.  They aim to give farmers another option to just plain slaughter.  They understand that these wonderful birds can not only have a rewarding and fulfilled life, but can enjoy that second chance in a fully free range environment.

But Chicken Run Rescue are a not-for-profit organisation and need our help to continue doing the brilliant work they do.  Every donation they get goes directly back into the organisation, much like a charity.  Everyone who works with them, does so on a voluntary basis.  And they have a ‘we take all hens rule’ which means they never turn a chicken away.  Of course this means that means a lot of the time, money and space is at a premium!

There are also a small number of those rescued birds which, due to stress, broken limbs or deformity, need to be treated and rehabilitated in their special Hospital Wing.  Medicine and supplies come at a hight cost, so again, all donations are a Gods send.

They are based on a 2 acre plot in Norfolk, and have to rely on the good will of sponsors, farmers and re-homers alike.  And they sometimes take in cockerels and other types of poultry such as turkeys, peafowl, quail, ducks and geese too!

Their website of full of brilliant news and information for would be and seasoned chicken keepers.  If you need the answers, these guys (and us of course) are the place to go!  You can sponsor one of their residents, get medical advice, find chicken events to go to and even see pictures of their Happy Endings stories.

So if you’re thinking of getting hens, please think about adopting from an organization like Chicken Run Rescue and giving a retired hen a second lease of life.  And if you aren’t in a position to adopt, you can still make a massive difference to these birds by simply donating your time or just a little money.

There are other organisation here in the UK that help with chicken adoptions, take a look below:

  • The Hen Rehoming Hub is a free mapping service that lets you find your closest hen rehoming organisation, bringing you the latest rescue dates and collection locations: http://www.exbatteryhens.org.uk/
  • The Battery Rechargers: National organisation: http://www.ex-battery-hens.com: A friendly forum for those who have (or would like to have) ex-battery hens, where we can talk about their:- housing – feeding – general progress – health and much more!
  • British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT): National Organisation: http://www.bhwt.org.uk: Regular hen rescue and rehoming days, teams throughout the UK. Free advice on hen care, news on free range campaigns, web shop, registered charity.
  • Cambridgeshire Hen Rescue: March, Cambridgeshire: http://www.cambshenrescue.com Rehome ex-battery hens, caged birds, and farm birds. Cover Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and surrounding areas.
  • Ex Battery Hens: http://www.freewebs.com/exbatteryhens: A website about some battery hens that were due to be slaughtered before we adopted them as pets. Come and see how they are doing now!
  • Ex Battery Hens Forum: http://www.exbatteryhens.com For people interested in Ex-Battery hens, hen rescues and rehoming Battery Hens
  • Ex Battery Hen Forum http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Ex-Battery-Hen-Forum/: Forum for anyone wishing to rehome ex battery hens and offering advice and answering questions for people who’ve already rehomed these lovely pets.
  • Hen Rehomers UK http://www.henrehomers.net: Hen Rehomers UK (previously North London Hen Rescue) operates nationally to rehome ex-battery hens which are past their commercial usefulness. They are legitimately purchased from farmers, and distributed to centres from Harrogate to Cardiff to Dover and many in between.
  • Lincs Little Hens: Lincolnshire: http://www.lincslittlehens.co.uk: Working in conjunction with Norwich based Little Hen Rescue and giving a Lincolnshire rehoming point to anyone wanting to give a home to retired battery or barn hens who suffer terrible cruelty in the commercial egg producing farms. These hens make lovely pets and still lay eggs.
  • Little hen rescue: Norfolk: http://www.littlehenrescue.co.uk
  • LuckyHens Rescue Northwest: http://www.luckyhensrescuenorthwest.weebly.com Re-home Ex caged / Barn Hen to families as pets. Lancashire,North West, Wigan, Battery Hens,
  • North London Hen Rescue – www.northlondonhenrescue.org.uk A small, independent group of volunteers who come together for the purpose of rehoming hens who would, otherwise, be slaughtered.
  • Rescue Hens: Frodsham: http://www.rescuehens.co.uk Rehome retiring hens from barn egg production, saving them from the pot! The hens are all fully vaccinated and we give you full support before and after rehoming. Most of the birds are Warrens or Hylines.

Freerange Chicken Song

Here at The Natural Poultry Farming Guide, we only endorse free range poultry farming.  We only endorse natural products and methodologies and want all farmed chickens to kept in an open free ranging environment and to move away from the cruel intensive battery farming methods of old.  All our chickens live in a free ranging environment, with lots of room to move and grow.  This great little song by Gene Burnett vocalizes our love of free range chickens.

General Info – Q&A

Q: How many eggs does one hen lay per day?

A: This depends on: the time of year; the breed of the hen; the diet of the hen; the age of the hen; and, how the hen is looked after.  Most of the standard breeds of chickens that have been selected through the years for egg production will lay between 180 – 320 eggs per year for their first year of laying.  On one extreme, there are records of hens averaging an egg a day for over a year. The rate of laying tapers in the second year and beyond, until it may only take place during the spring.  Some of the breeds that haven’t been selected for egg production (selected for show, or other qualities, instead) may only lay eggs in the spring and early summer.  Appropriate feed mixtures also stimulate egg production. Provide 14 to 16 hours of light for hens to lay regularly.  One hen can only lay, at the most, seven eggs per week while most chickens lay fewer. A hen which lays one egg every day is a very good layer.

Q: Do you have to have a rooster for a hen to lay eggs?

A: No. Without a rooster, hens will still lay eggs.  There are no roosters to be found at all the chicken farms, where most eggs come from. If you don’t have a rooster, the eggs can’t be fertile, and won’t hatch.

Q: What is a pecking order?

A: is the colloquial term for a hierarchical system of social organization in chickens.  Yes it’s true, chickens, at least in small flocks, fight for the position of dominance and superiority in the flock by pecking the other birds. This ensures they get the best food and water.

Q: How long do hens lay eggs?

A: Egg productivity diminishes after the first year. It is still good the second year, but then declines rapidly.  At about three or four years, production is not very efficient. Most commercial and farm hens are culled after their second season of laying.

Q: What Is A Dustbath?

A: Chickens like to have a dustbath from time to time. Getting the dust (or dry soil) between their feathers helps them to get rid of parasites (lice for example) naturally. If your chickens are let out to free range from time to time, they will usually find somewhere with dry soil and make themselves a dustbath. If they are enclosed in a run, it can be a help to them if you supply a covered box or area for them to dustbath.

Q: How long to chickens live?

A: Chickens can live anywhere from 5 – 10 years depending on the breed and quality of life provided.

Q: Are free-range chickens the same as organic chickens?

A: No, there are important differences. Organically raised hens are never given hormones, antibiotics or pesticides.  Free-range chicken producers have no regulations associated with production methods. They are free to use antibiotics, hormones, and non-organic feeds.  Both organically raised and free-range chickens have access to the outdoors and are never kept in confinement cages.

Q: How long does it take for a chick to hatch?

A: Usually around 21 days depending on the breed.

Q: What is the difference between white and brown eggs?

A: The main difference is in the breed of chicken. Nutritionally, the eggs are usually the same. This depends on feeding and management.

Q: My hens are eating eggs. What do I do?

A: Hens will eat broken eggs if they find them. Hens keep an eye on each other, and when one finds food, others crowd in. In this way, egg-eating can spread through a flock.  Hens do not normally consider unbroken eggs to be edible, but if they have anything stuck to them, such as smears of yolk from another egg, they’ll peck at that. Sometimes hens learn to break eggs on purpose this way.

To reduce egg-eating, you should: Provide darkened nests. Hens do not like to eat in the dark, and they are less active in the dark. They break fewer eggs moving around in the nest boxes, and if they do break one, they’re less likely to eat it.  Use large nest boxes with a small door. In ordinary nest boxes, two or three hens will jam themselves into a nest meant for one, and this breaks a lot of eggs. Roomier nests lead to less breakage.  Use deeper litter. This will prevent the litter from being scratched out of the nest and fewer eggs will be broken.  Collect eggs frequently.  Provide one nest for every four hens. Avoid overcrowding.  Provide the right feed rations. Deficiencies can lead to thin-shelled eggs.

Q: What breed of chicken lays the largest and the most eggs?

A: Rhode Island Reds and Sussex are noted as the pure breed that lays most eggs (around 260 per year) and for quite a long time!  Most hybrids will probably match or even exceed that number as they are bred to produce eggs but for a shorter life span.  Some of the latest hybrids are geared up to lay 300-320 eggs per year.  Black Rocks lay about 330 per year and the 2nd year eggs are pretty large.

Q: My roosters spurs are removing all the feathers on my the back of my hens. Is there a safe way to remove his spurs?

A: You can trim and file down the spurs to remove the sharp points.

Q: How many hobby poultry keepers are there in the UK?

A: It is estimated that there are about 250,000 to 350,000 hobby poultry keepers. Domestic poultry keeping is a growing hobby.