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Whitney’s Chickens Notecard



Whitney’s Chickens (Pinus strobus)

This wonderful group of chickens is part of a backyard flock providing fresh eggs and entertainment. Unrestricted, roaming around the yard, chickens happily enjoy hunting for insects and eating a wide variety of grass, clover and other legumes. Chickens are inquisitive by nature and will try to eat just about anything that looks tasty! If one hen finds something interesting the whole flock will rush over to her to see what it is, or even steal it away!

As much as chickens enjoy this lifestyle, the eggs and meat provided by free-ranging poultry are beneficial for human consumption as well. Grasses and legumes are high in beta-carotene content and this transfers to the eggs and poultry we eat. Beta-carotene has been linked to lowering the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Look for eggs with a bright yellow to orange yolk and you will know the chickens are eating the right thing! Another benefit is a higher omega-3 fatty acid level an essential fatty acid for normal growth and development. Also, an increased level of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is another good fat that is helpful in converting fat to lean muscle is present in free-range chicken. There are even more benefits such as lower fat, fewer calories and a lowered risk of E-coli.

Raising chickens on pasture is not only good for the hens and humans but also for the environment as well. There is no huge buildup of manure which can cause pollution of our streams, rivers and soil with too much nitrogen. Instead, the chickens fertilize the soil as they wander over it.

It seems natural that happy, healthy chickens will give us a healthier product. Many small farms are now raising chickens on pasture. It is important to support this growing movement for a healthier life; for ourselves, for the animals themselves, and for the environment.

artwork by Mary Beth Inkhen © 2002 
text by Anne Trawick