Spring Hill Farms

  (Newark, Ohio)
Heritage Breed Pastured Pork, Chickens, Grass Fed Beef
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Cornish Cross Chickens - How Fast is too Fast?


The ASPCA has recently launched a campaign "The Truth about Chicken" which is exposing the facts about how chickens are raised in the factory farm model and they are actively promoting slower growing breeds instead of the industry standard, Cornish Cross.


Here's a quote from the ASPCA website "In 1925, it took 16 weeks to raise a chicken to 2.5 pounds. Today, chickens weigh double that in just six weeks!"

So for all the genetic improvement over the last 80 plus years we can definitely see a big part of the focus was get the birds to slaughter weight as fast as possible.

Which begs the question: How fast is too fast?

In this case if you were to compare the growth rate of a human to that of a modern day broiler chicken you would find According to the University of Arkansas, if humans grew at a similar rate, a 6.6-pound newborn baby would weigh 660 pounds after two months. 

You have to admit, that's pretty fast by anyone's standards!

At Spring Hill Farms we have been raising Label Rouge broilers since they have been available in the United States. Although these birds grow slower than Cornish Cross, they are faster than a chicken in 1925.

Of course this type of "exposure" about what's going on in the poultry industry causes some very fervent emotions. The last time I checked there were about 300 comments on the ASPCA's blog where they announced the launch of The Truth about Chicken.

Before this campaign was launched I was contacted by the ASPCA to inquire if I would allow them to use a quote from my blog about what I felt was wrong with Cornish Cross chickens. You can read that blog post here.

I'll be honest with you...I was hesitant at first because I really had no idea what the ASPCA stood for when it came to livestock welfare. After a conversation with them and reading through their website I felt that they have a fairly balanced approach to livestock issues.

Many of the humane and cruelty type organizations have a "do not eat meat" mindset. I obviously wouldn't agree with that type of philosophy.

Of course I believe high welfare standards are a very central part of raising livestock.

See I don't believe that the fastest growth rate obtainable for poultry or any other livestock is the number one one factor.

I believe that high welfare standards should come first followed by nutritional quality of the meat, flavor profiles, sustainability, etc.

A small farm that is ran right should reflect a place:

  • that cares about animals
  • provides food that helps keep you healthy
  • is responsible to the environment

I signed the petition for The Truth about Chicken and I urge you to do so also.

If you are a small farmer let people know you believe the industrial poultry farm model is not the way to raise chickens. If you're using Cornish Cross birds on your small farm stop using them and get something better suited to the small farm model.

If we take a stand on these issues through organizations like the ASPCA and stop supporting the commercial poultry industry with our dollars things will begin to change.

At the very least we'll be able to sleep a little better at night knowing we are doing something to help facilitate change where it is needed  very badly.

Sign the petition here: "The Truth about Chicken"

Until next time...




David Fogle is owner of Spring Hill Farms in Newark, Ohio you can follow him on Google+

How is Your Chicken Raised?


When I first started raising pastured poultry I used the standard Cornish Cross birds that are used in commercial operations. I explain why I stopped raising them here.

Many pastured poultry farmers use these birds because they are convinced that no other bird compares. This blog on Dr Mercola's site is an interview with Joel Salatin. To me, Joel is one of the great pioneers of sustainable farming of our time.

You'll notice that Joel uses these Cornish Cross birds as well. His contention about using anything else the last time I heard him speak about it was that no other bird could be successfully raised at a profit.

For the most part that is true. However Freedom Ranger birds like we raise here at Spring Hill Farms not only can compete with the Cornish Cross, in some ways they are actually better.

Number one - They are a more active bird than Cornish Cross birds. This means the meat is firmer and has more texture than a bird that for the most part lays around and eats.

Number two - Freedom Rangers consume more green material than Cornish Cross birds hands down.

Number three - This makes for a bird that is healthier and has a better flavor profile.

My personal opinion is Joel has it figured out when it comes to the pastured poultry model but we differ on what bird is best to use.

Take a look at this blog on Dr. Mercola's site where he interviews Joel as it closely mirrors how and why we use movable shelters to raise our broilers.

If you want the best chicken you can eat that you know is healthy for you, find a farmer that uses these methods and Freedom Ranger birds . If you're around central Ohio, try Spring Hill Farms pastured poultry, you'll be glad you did!

Until next time....


Farm Kids Stand Up and Take Notice

Picture I recently read the story of the youngest farmer to receive the Animal Welfare Approved certification.

Meet 12 year old Shelby Grebenc of Broomfield Co.

According to the article in the Animal Welfare Approved newsletter, she has 130 laying hens. She has named her farm Shelby's Happy Chapped Butt Chicken Farm because she says since folks can see her farm from the road people sometimes drop off chickens. She found a an empty box one day with chickens running around. They had no tail feathers and looked pretty sore so it seemed fitting.

Shelby started her farm when she was 10 years old by approaching her grandmother for a $1,000 loan to start a pasture raised egg business.

This stemmed from the situation at hand, her mother Nancy who has multiple Sclerosis was in a nursing home and Shelby wanted to expand the family's income. 

Shelby, my hat is off to you and I wish you well in everything you endeavor to do at your farm.

To read the Animal Welfare article go here.



Don't Use Antibiotics for Poultry and Resistant Bacteria Levels Drop

PictureAmerican consumers are becoming aware of the practices of large commercial farming operations and they don't like what they learn.

Here's a great example of proof. Not using sub-therapeutic antibiotics can quickly lower the anti resistant bacterias found on these farms.

You can read more about just how dangerous antibiotic use can be to all of us here: "This development of drug resistance scares the hell out of me," says Kellogg Schwab

(From the Union of Concerned Scientists)

A blockbuster new scientific study shows that a transition to organic animal production methods that don’t use antibiotics can reduce levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria on farms.

This is the first U.S. study to provide on-farm data on the impacts of removing antibiotics from large-scale poultry CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations).

Researchers from the University of Maryland and the Food and Drug Administration measured levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in poultry litter, water, and feed samples from 10 conventional poultry operations and 10 newly-organic operations of similar size. (Under organic certification rules, producers are not allowed to use antibiotics.) The newly antibiotic-free organic farms had much lower rates of resistant bacteria compared to the conventional farms, demonstrating that the reduction in antibiotic use can immediately lower the levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria found on the farm.

The study was released in the midst of a massive food safety recall of ground turkey contaminated with antibiotic-resistant salmonella. That incident, involving 36 million pounds of ground turkey produced by agribusiness giant Cargill, sickened some 111 consumers. Read the full study here, and learn more about the turkey recall here.



Free Range Eggs - A Top 10 Superfood

Fresh Brown Eggs
I have long been a proponent of eggs from pastured hens.

Eggs get a bad rap many times but the truth is they are a great source of:

  • Nine essential amino acids
One of the highest quality proteins you can find. Proteins are nutrients that are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of your body tissues such as your skin, internal organs and muscles. They are also the major components of your immune system and hormones
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin (for your eyes)
  • Choline for your brain, nervous- and cardiovascular systems
  • Naturally occurring B12

I routinely eat my eggs raw but for many that is not something they are ready to do unless they are really a committed health fanatic!

It's very handy though, I can have two or three raw eggs and some fresh vegetable juice for lunch and be back to work in ten minutes.

If I'm in a hurry in the morning I can crack a couple of eggs into a mug and two swallows later my breakfast is over and I'm out the door!

I would not recommend doing this with store bought eggs regardless of pastured, free range or otherwise. The risk of salmonella is very real.

Here's a list of the top 10 super foods for your health. How many are you consuming?

The Top 10 Best Superfoods


The USDA - Antibiotics and Chicken


Bacterial Chicken!
Poultry are heavy consumers of antibiotics in mainstream agriculture. The establishment has assured us for years that it is not really a health hazard. The reside left in the chickens is harmless. Yea, right.

So I wonder why The United States Department of Agriculture has a team of scientist working on introducing what they call "competitive exclusion cultures." They introduced these cultures of 29 different bacterial species into farm raised chickens as part of their diet and then exposed them to salmonella. They found that chickens exposed to the bacterial culture had 99 percent less salmonella colonization than unexposed chickens according to Discover Magazine, March 2011.

Interesting! I blogged on this very topic a while back. I'd love to think the USDA scientist read my blog but the truth is, as always, public outcry over several studies that have been done in the last several years have consumers getting worried about antibiotic residue in their food.

That coupled with the deluge of antibiotic resistant bacterias that are surfacing (which is what prompted the studies no doubt) not only in livestock but humans as well have scientist worried.

So many consumers have been opting out of the antibiotic laced factory farmed chicken and buying from a small farm that doesn't dose their chickens with medicated feed.

But don't be fooled. The USDA is trying to figure out a new way to leave chickens in huge confinement barns and not have to dose them with antibiotics. Granted it is better to have confinement poultry that is antibiotic free than what is available now.

I wonder if they can come up with something besides Roxarsone (an organic version of arsenic) as a growth promoter? I seem to do fine without putting it in my chicken feed.

To me this whole thing is just proof that you can't rely on regulations and inspectors to make sure your food is healthy and safe.

Buy from a local farm. Visit the farmer and ask questions. A good local farmer has no secrets about what they feed their stock and how it's raised.

At Spring Hill Farms I have been growing good bacteria for our animals to ingest for a long time. Maybe that's one reason why I never have a need for a veterinarian.

Until next time...



Free Protein for Chickens


Laying Hen Spring Hill Farms
I'm constantly looking for new and free (or cheap) protein sources for chickens. Obviously for us here at Spring Hill Farms it also has to pass clean food test as well. I'm not of the mind that "free" is good no matter what.

While reading Newman Turners book FERTILITY FARMING. which I highly recommend by the way, I came across a section on poultry. Newman makes the statement that " hens will generally mop up all the food which one is able to allow them, even when on free range."

If you have chickens you can say a big "amen" to that. Chickens have a high metabolism and therefore a big appetite.

Newman also says that he found birds ranging on high fertility soil that contained good quantities of hummus ate less feed. Especially on oat or wheat stubble.

He writes, "
They would usually come to meet me when I arrived with the food which in the semi-confinement of folds they would consume to the last morsel, but after pecking away at it for a while they would wander off to their obviously far more palatable and juicy soil organisms -- worms, insects, and much that was invisible to the human eye -- which they were getting from the humus-rich soil without overmuch scratching. If it weren't that I am sure there is much in compost and humus-rich soil which the hen eats, and which I am unable to identify with my own eyes, I would almost venture to suggest that compost is in itself a good food for poultry. For the hens most certainly consume large quantities of what looks like pure compost whenever they get the opportunity." 

I have definitely seen poultry picking away at nothing I could really see with my eyes many times.

Newman goes on to share an idea he used to supplement his hens protein by starting a compost pile in what he calls the "hen yard."

He basically started a compost heap in the yard where he would be running the hens in the fall and winter. Seeded it with earth worms, and then let it compost until he turned the hens into it in early Autumn when he says it will be "an ideal dinning table for the hens."

I'm planning to do this and see how it works. Give it a try and see what you think. If you already do something like this let me know how it works!

**Update** I found this really cool book on worm farming called "Worm Farming Secrets"


Until next time....


Poison-Free Poultry: Why Arsenic Doesn't Belong in Feed


Snow Bird!
I have been talking about how unhealthy chicken is from the conventional store forever it seems like. Just in case your not convinced, here is yet another report on just how bad it is.

Spring Hill Farms pastured poultry is not fed roxarsone or any other type of growth promoter, or disease killing poison.

  U.S. poultry farmers have used drugs containing arsenic, a known poison, to control the common disease coccidiosis for decades. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the arsenic-based drug roxarsone as a feed additive in 1944. The chicken industry discovered that roxarsone promoted growth, increased feed efficiency (pounds of chicken produced from each pound of feed), and improved flesh pigmentation as well. Between 1995 and 2000, 70 percent of broiler chicken producers used roxarsone feed additives. [more]



How to Make a Chicken Catcher

Buckeye Rooster
While catching chickens to be processed this last time my brother and I were having an ongoing discussion about who could make the best chicken catcher.

We laughed about how as kids we would make one and then snag every hen in the barnyard a couple times each. And if you caught the rooster it was a huge deal. (we had educated him after just a few times of catching him)

This was way before the internet, video games, and a million channels on TV.

It brought back the time a few years ago when the boys were getting old enough to help, which means they could walk a few steps without falling down, and I declared we needed to catch all the broilers in the next few days to butcher.

They ask "how we gonna ketch em'?"

I'll make a chicken catcher I exclaimed. Of course they were on point then! Especially my youngest as he wants to know how to make everything or at least "see how it works."


Home Made Chicken Catcher
So we went on the hunt for the materials which consist of a piece of number 9 wire and a pair of pliers. I explained how as kids we would rob a wire coat hanger from the closet (without mom seeing us of course) and use it to make the catcher. This sparked a whole new line of questions about how could you bend a hanger? So I explained how clothes hangers used to be metal wire not the plastic ones you see now.

That was almost as weird to them as making a chicken catcher.

So with both of them following along behind I grabbed a pair of pliers and cut a piece of #9 wire about three feet long or so.

I then bend a U shape in the end. I then send the boys after a stick about the size of a chickens leg or a bit bigger and place it inside the U making sure it is against the bottom of the U shape.

Taking the pliers I squeeze the U almost shut up against the stick which leaves a long tail.

I then make a few fine adjustments based on years of making chicken catchers and then promptly losing them after one day of use. (I should find three with the mower this Spring)

I flip the now finely tuned instrument around and bend a handle on the other end and say there we go!

The boys both look at the wire and then look at me and say, "how do you catch a chicken with that."

So off we go to demonstrate. I open the movable pen, reach in with the wire, and before they know what has happened I'm pulling a bird to me by the leg...and my youngest is screaming "let me try!"

And so it goes on the farm. I am always amazed at what I learned as a kid on the farm. Some things I have completely forgotten until one day I'm doing something and think,  "I know what I need! I need to make a.........."

Until next time!



What's in your Chicken?

What's in chicken? 

In my opinion one of the worst meats you can buy in the grocery these days is chicken. It is one of the most adulterated meats in the store!

 Laced with residues and other products deliberately added to enhance flavor, you would greatly enhance your over-all health by switching to local, small farm, pastured poultry

Pastured poultry is actually going to help you enhance your health vs tax your immune system with toxins you need to rid your body of.

 Check out this great video by Dr Oz on what's really going into your store bought, industrially raised chicken.


Watch the video here.



Pastured Freedom Rangers and Carcass Weight

Freedom Ranger 5 1/2 lbs 68 days
We just processed a batch of Freedom Ranger Broilers we ran on pasture. Actually in movable cages on pasture.

This was the last batch of the year and we were pushing it to have birds on grass the last day of November.

These birds have impressed me ever since we decided to go with them instead of the industry standard Cornish Cross birds.

Compared to Cornish they are aggressive foragers. More like old time chickens than the souped up meat birds of today. We tried for several years to get something besides the latest and greatest meat bird genetics that produce a bird ready to slaughter in 45-50 days.

Finally the Freedom Ranger came onto the scene in the last couple of years.

Although our customers had always been happy with the standard meat bird, I wanted something more suited to sustainable farming and outdoor operations.

Exceptional taste was also something I always strive for and I knew that old heritage breed birds have a flavor that blows away the Cornish type meat birds.

The catch to using old meat bird type chickens is they grow extremely slow. The carcass is so far from what most people are used to in a chicken that it's very easy to turn customers off regardless of how great they taste. Mainly since the breast on these birds are not "double breasted."

The Freedom Ranger broiler answers all these problems!

They are a double breasted bird that grows out in about 70 days. The taste? Out of this world when raised on pasture.

PictureThe bird pictured here weighed 5 pounds 12 ounces in 68 days. We had some break the 6 lb mark! This was in late September through the end of November. We had quite a bit of temps down in the 30's at night and 50's through the day. Several times we had storms with strong winds and gusty winds for a day or two after.

Not the perfect weather I always hope for, but these birds still did quite well.

The carcass is longer than the usual grocery store chicken or Cornish type bird but every bit as meaty. Since they forage so aggressively they've got to be loaded with Omega 3's.

If you are looking for good chicken that forages for grass, bugs and worms like the old time chickens of yesteryear, look no further than Freedom Rangers at Spring Hill Farms.



Freedom Ranger Chickens as Laying Hens

Freedom Ranger Laying Hens
In August we were pulling broilers from one of our movable pens on pasture in the pouring down rain. Two pullets ended up escaping into the nearby brush.

Since I wasn't really in the mood to chase two fugitives in the middle of a downpour, we let them go thinking "they will be lucky to make through the night."

The next day dawned bright and sunny. By mid afternoon I hadn't seen hide nor hair of them errr, hide nor feather of them so I assumed a fox or some other varmint had scored a midnight meal at my expense.

The Mrs. wasn't happy about it but what can you do? I asked. Besides they were going to be dead anyway.

The second day to my surprise one of them showed up at the edge of the trees! So one of them did make it. I watched to see if the other would show and after an our or so and only one chicken I thought well one of them didn't make it and tonight will be the end of this one.

The next day they both were out in the grass pecking around in the grass. Wow wrong again, better give'em some feed and water and see if I can get close enough in the next couple of days to catch them...if they make it that long.

I wasn't taking into account that these birds are from heritage breed genetics. These aren't the Cornish cross birds we used to raise. These suckers roosted that night in an old stump about six feet off the ground at the edge of the field.

Hmm they just might be around awhile as I start to catch on. (it takes me awhile sometimes) I mentioned to the Mrs. the birds were still here and showed her out the kitchen window where they had perched at dusk. She looked out and saw them and promptly announced "then they're staying here since they made it this far."

Any of you who know my wife outside of gracious host when you come to visit the farm, know when she lays down a decree it will be that way or else!

After a couple of weeks they got more comfortable and began to venture up to the barn and the front porch and anywhere else they felt like going. And as if by some built in knowing they always made it a point to come see the Mrs. anytime she was outside and even began running up to her car when she pulled in the driveway like she was their long lost mother!

Trying to justify keeping them verses admitting I had to keep them per the Mrs. I began to wonder if they would make layers. Sure enough at about 17 weeks (I kept track of the time) they began to go into the goats pen in the corner and lay their eggs.

They are almost 100% on an egg a day... not bad for birds that are designed to be meat chickens. I've even started making sure the "girls", as the Mrs. calls them, have a bit of feed since the weather is turning cold.

If you're wondering if Freedom Rangers will make decent layers I say yes they will!

I eat two medium brown eggs for breakfast every morning and remember how two pullets escaped on a rainy day in August. 

till next time!

Pastured Poultry - Fresh Grass Daily

Folks often ask me "what's the difference in pastured poultry and free range?"

Well for the most part it depends on who is defining it! Grocery stores would want you to believe that "free range" or "pastured"  means the birds are free to roam around outside and range for bugs and grass and live the life every chicken dreams of.

But most of the time it means in the industrial setting, they have a minimum amount of access to the outside.

It might be dirt and completely devoid of bugs or grass but they met the requirements to advertise free range.

To the small farmer it can mean different things as well. I've seen birds turned out in the day and locked back into the coop at night.

I know farmers who have a chicken "run" that lets the bird outside but unless moved frequently to another area it quickly becomes not only devoid of bugs and grass, but becomes a breeding ground for pathogens.

What do we do here at Spring Hill Farms with our pastured poultry?

We use movable, floor-less, pens. These pens are moved daily and depending on the age of the bird, could be moved twice a day.

We also think that electrified poultry netting is a very good option as well. Provided the birds are moved to fresh pasture as needed.

Why don't we let our birds roam around? The number one reason is predators.

With the decline in hunting and trapping of fur bearing animals and varmints, the farmer is over run with Raccoons, Fox, Coyotes, Weasels, Mink, Opossum, and who knows what I forgot.

These are all dangers to your poultry flock.

We work in co operation with nature and wildlife but there is no sense in tempting animals to get a free, easy meal by leaving our pastured poultry or laying hens completely exposed to danger.  

Another reason we prefer movable pens and poultry netting is we can control the birds access to harmful pathogens.

Birds that free range or roam about freely tend to roost in the same places night after night. Farmers tend to feed them in the same place day after day.

Both of these practices can lead to a build up of pathogens in those feeding/sleeping areas.

At Spring Hill Farms we strive to raise animals with the least amount of inputs to keep them happy healthy and robust. Reducing harmful pathogen loads is the first step in that journey.

This is done through intensive management not medicating. On the surface it seems easier to drop some chemical wormers or antibiotics into the animal and fore go the moving pens everyday.

But it is actually easier to avoid health problems than try to fix them.

From the health standpoint for the consumer we believe it gives us a superior product in taste, texture and health.

Let's look at the idea of moving pens daily.

First of all this automatically reduces pathogen loads by moving away from yesterdays lounging area and providing new ground for the birds.

Secondly, it provides fresh grass of our choosing not the birds. When birds free range roam about you'll find they lounge in the same areas, (pathogen problem) and range fairly close to the lounging area.

Animals are lazy by nature. They will not go long distances just because the grass is better. And at some point if the area gets poor enough and large enough, the birds will have played out the range they are used to and need more grain and are really no different than a grocery store chicken at that point.

We work hard to mimic nature when raising livestock, wether it's chickens, pigs, or goats we think as natural as possible is best.

The Freedom Rangers birds we use are aggressive foragers by nature. Unlike the industry standard Cornish Cross or Cornish X, which is lazy and fast growing by nature.

We have raised them in the past and found them to be undesirable in a system such as ours.  

I actually blogged about the problems with Cornish Cross Chickens. You can read it here.
Watch the video below to see these birds going after forage. They consume forage like a heritage breed bird because they are derived from heritage breed genetics.

Aggressive foragers means more CLA's and Omega 3's in your poultry.

Watch the video here to see what Professor Crawford of Britain has to say after 30 years of studying the nutritional value of chicken.

He is very concerned with the levels of Omega 3 fatty acids being almost nonexistent in chicken. He even says it could cause mental illness to skyrocket in the years ahead.

Here's an excerpt from Paris Reidhead's article:

CLAs & Omega-3s: Pasture Health Benefits Passed Transferred to People.

...In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA—a mere 0.1 percent of total calories—greatly reduced tumor growth. CLA may also reduce cancer risk in humans. In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet, had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels. Similarly, French researchers measured CLA levels in the breast tissues of 360 women. In fact, the women with the most CLA had a staggering 74% lower risk of breast cancer than the women with the least CLA.

Switching from grain-fed to grass-fed meat and dairy products places women in this lowest risk category. Researcher Tilak Dhiman, PhD., from Utah State University estimates that persons may be able to lower their risk of cancer simply by eating the following grass-fed products each day: one glass of whole milk, one ounce of cheese, and one serving of meat. One must consume five times that amount of grain-fed meat and dairy products to get the same level of protection.

Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils, and fish such as salmon and mackerel. Omega-3s reduce serum cholesterol levels and are anticoagulants. Grazing livestock also yield abundant omega-3s in their meat and dairy products, almost as much as the oils from the above-cited fish. (Such claims cannot be made for non-grazing livestock.)....

....It has been estimated that only 40 percent of Americans consume an adequate supply of Omega-3 fatty acids. Twenty percent of U.S. citizens have blood levels so low in Omega-3s as to be undetectable. Switching to the meat, milk, and dairy products of grass-fed animals is one way to restore this vital nutrient to their diet.

It is increasingly evident that eating pasture-based animal products greatly benefits human health. This fact spotlights the need for producers to stress elements of animal husbandry, specifically pasture management, which maximize the intake, by grazing animals, of CLAs, Omega-3s, and natural vitamins. More and more, informed consumers expect and demand these health elements in their animal products. Dairy and livestock people who meet those demands should be rewarded accordingly.

If you're in central Ohio and looking for grass-fed meats give us a call or email, we'd be glad to help you out.

 Watch our Freedom Rangers Here


The Best Eggs For you and Your Family, Come From the Pasture

Time and time again science proves nature is the best provider of food. Human cleverness, as Joel Salatin calls it,can never quite get all the pieces of the puzzle together.


Here's a great video showing the nutritional profile of pastured eggs vs industrial agriculture eggs.


See it Here


Are pastured chickens better for you than their supermarket counterparts?

This is a great video showing the nutritional profile of pastured vs conventional chickens. I will be ordering our last batch of birds next week. If you were thinking of ordering now is the time...






Why you don't want to buy organic eggs from the grocery store

Dr Mercola let's the cat out of the bag on organic eggs at the grocery..


Read it here


Pastured Poultry

If you ordered chickens from us give us a call or email we may be able to fill your order now as some folks needed to reschedule. 


Contact Us


Freedom Ranger Chicks Arrived - Video

Our Freedom Ranger chicks arrived at the farm today today. This video shows us putting them in the brooder.

These birds are from the Label Rouge program. We believe them to be better than the standard Cornish Cross chickens for the model we use to raise them. 

In my previous post  I outlined why I think they are superior to Cornish Cross for the pastured poultry farmer.

I will be showing you how these birds grow out this season so stay tuned for more videos.


Watch the video here.


Until next time...


What's Wrong With Cornish Cross Chickens?

Cornish Cross are the industry standard for meat birds in the United States. I recently mentioned I had switched to Freedom Ranger chickens and had several people ask why.

Cornish Cross birds are a lazy bird by nature with an insatiable appetite.

They basically sit, eat, and get bigger. These are admiral traits if the only goal is to produce a bird that grows very rapidly and produces a lot of breast meat.

However, if you sit back and observe this bird for very long you realize these cleverly select traits come with a price.

Research shows that these birds can gain weight at a rate faster than their skeletal system can bear.

This shows up as lameness and even broken legs. Another trait of these birds is they suffer heart failure.

You go to tend the birds, and find one stone dead for no apparent reason. More than likely it suffered heart failure.

Because they are so selectively bred for certain traits it can lead to a compromised immune system.

They are a fragile bird that was designed for huge agri-business to stuff in a confinement barn and feed sub therapeutic antibiotics to keep them healthy.

The hatchery told me to limit feed them so as to slow the growth rate down and help curb these health issues.

I did limit their intake of feed, and to a large degree it worked. But I came to the conclusion you were basically starving them to slow them down!

They are genetically designed to have an insatiable appetite. I raise Tamworth pigs on pasture and these birds make them look polite when it comes to feeding if they have ran out of feed for any length of time…even on grass.

Which brings up another observation: Freedom Ranger chickens are a far more aggressive forager of green material then Cornish Cross.

One of the health benefits touted by pastured poultry farmers is the opportunity for the birds to graze on green grass and bugs.

It made sense to me to use a bird that gets the most out the environment in which you raise it. Cornish birds were designed as an inside bird with no thought of foraging, that burns calories!

Contrast that with birds from the Label Rouge program in France (such as Freedom Rangers) and you see some distinct differences.


  • They are a healthy robust bird
  • Freedom Rangers grow slower without the problems associated with Cornish Cross.
  • They are much more active foragers.
  • Customers in taste test when compared to the Cornish Cross prefer Freedom Ranger.

I chose Freedom Rangers because after examining the facts I felt they were better suited to my model of farming and welfare standards.

Why take a bird that was bred for big business and put it in an environment that it was never designed for?

I realize pastured poultry farmers while minimizing the problems outlined here can raise Cornish Cross birds.


But for us at Spring Hill Farms, we think there is a better way.


Until next time…








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