We are now raising Dorkings, an endangered breed and one of the oldest in the 'English Class' of chickens; it is believed they were transported to Darking (now Dorking) England by the Romans in approximately 50 AD.
This breed is said to produce the finest meat of any chicken, and was so highly prized that it was illegal to take a live specimen out of Darking for nearly two hundred years. Besides their reputation for meat quality and helping to conserve the breed, our fascination with them stems from the fact that they mature at 8-9 pounds... and can fly. Flying is an importnt skill for a free-range chicken! They wll never equal the Leghorns in egg production, but their production rate is a respectable 4+ eggs a week
Additionally, the farm now hosts a small mixed flock of free-ranging heritage breed turkeys; they call the barnlot home most nights, and are provided with organic grains to supplement their foraging intake and keep them tame. Excess birds are processed for Thanksgiving; we maintian a 'waiting list', beginning the day after Thanksgiving, for next years' birds. Some years a late brood will be hatched, and will be held for Christmas processing.
As of early 2014, all grain provided to our birds is either USDA or OMRI Certified Organic; chickens are also occasionally provided with organ meats from our beef. All feeding of birds is done inside cattle-proof areas to prevent our cattle from accessing any bits of grain that may be 'missed' - not that they miss much! They all free-range daily; they DO go out, and sometimes cover the better part of fifty acres surrounding the barn. While we often get reports that they are down by the road, as yet none have crossed it. We do not know why.