We raise egg-laying breeds of chickens for their benefit to the pasture. Their role in the circle of regeneration is to clean up behind the herbivores just like their counterparts in nature. It just so happens that we get eggs in return, and not just any eggs, the best eggs in the Washington. Overall, our eggers are the happiest, most mobile, and hardest working chickens in
Chicken manure is excellent food for the earth. Our chickens free-range a new paddock each day and roost in the eggmobile over slatted floors each night, so our flock puts 100% of its waste to good use in the fields. During the day they are within portable chicken electronets and usually are guarded by at least one dog. The girls run around finding any kind of forage they like, one in particular being cow pies. Layers will scratch through a cow pie (at the proper timing behind a cow, of course) until the pie is completely spread out. Generally they do so for the fly larvae that grow inside the pies, though certain times of year they are searching for the earthworms getting to work on older pies. Herbivore manure also contains beneficial digestive enzymes for a chicken’s gut microbiome.
Nature has many examples of mutualism that we can imitate. The oxpecker on the zebra, the egret on the rhino or buffalo, the cowbird on the bison, and now the chicken behind the cow. We see blackbirds, cowbirds, and starlings follow the cows as well, all of which keep the insect infestations in check.
Because our layers get all the greens they want, all the worms and bugs and insects they want, organic grain and crushed oyster shells, they, in turn, provide us with eggs that are as good as they get. Our flock averages a couple hundred girls in one big eggmobile and covers over a hundred acres of pasture multiple times each year.
Overall, the soil gets better fed both from the chicken excrement and the even spreading of cow pies, the greens benefit both from the soil improving and the increased available photosynthetic surface area, the herbivores benefit from the improved soil and the improved greens, and the chickens benefit in following the cows on another successful rotation of soil building, green growing, cow feeding circle of land regeneration. Imitating nature yields us healthy cows, healthy pastures, and healthy chickens who lay healthy eggs.