Originally Posted by CanadianBuckeye
Was your flock always like this, or did you select for it over time? Very interesting indeed.
I've been developing this method for some years now...not even really a method so much as just an observation of chickens and how they prefer to do things. Then I just let nature happen while trying to fit my own needs inside of that, so I act as the predator in this system but also provide shelter, supplementary feeding and a safe place to lay eggs/hatch out progeny. It's easier for me to watch and learn, to provide for their needs and then stand back and let them self regulate their own social structure.....but I also cull for correct social skills, for laying, for thrift/hardiness, so it all plays into forming a flock that is pretty self sustainable and stress free while also producing meat and eggs at a high yield. Utilizing the White Rock breed is a big part of that...they are truly a dual purpose breed, producing both eggs and meat at such a high rate that I see no need to try and cross breeds to form a better bird.
The free range system I have set up here is a huge part of that and I couldn't do any of that quite so well without the perfect piece of property in which to do so...the forage here is phenomenal and I have worked to create even more of that by overseeding with white dutch clover, creating natural areas for snake, lizard and bug habitat and through careful mowing of the meadow...sometimes letting it go to seed, sometimes not allowing certain weeds or grasses to do so.
The dogs are also a huge part of that, so the training and developing of the dogs for this kind of job is also my part to play. Their wireless containment system is a cheap price to pay for the freedom and ability to work that comes with it and eliminates the need for Ft. Knox style cooping and fences here, so the chickens live a free life and the dogs do also, as much as is possible within their fencing boundary. I like for the animals here to have as natural a life and diet as I can possibly provide.
But, mostly, I just honor God's design for the chickens and ask for guidance from their Manufacturer about how to manage them in order to be a good steward of what He has given me, trying to provide them with a good life here, as close to what He had designed them for as possible. That seems to work better than anything else.