WillowSedge Farm

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The Chickens

Meat Chickens

We purchase day-old Cornish Cross chicks from Hoovers Hatchery in Rudd, Iowa. We raise them in a warm brooding area to start with, but the chicks are encouraged to begin exploring the outdoors as soon as one week of age. They are raised outdoors in large pens.

boxes of day-old chicks
chicks in brooder The chicks receive a chick starter ration for 2 weeks. We use medication-free, vegetarian starter ration. At two weeks of age the birds are switched to a custom-blended feed containing corn, soybean meal, and a vitamin/mineral mix.

No medications or animal byproducts are in that custom blend.
little chicks outside larger chickens outside

Meat chickens are ready for processing at 7 to 8 weeks of age. Our chickens are inspected, processed, and frozen at Nelson-Shine Produce in Brainerd, MN. The weight of the finished, frozen whole chickens is in the 4.5- to 5.5-pound range.


Laying Hens

The laying hen flock starts as day-old chicks, and we raise them the same way as the meat birds except they are on the starter ration for 4 weeks.

They start to lay eggs at about five to six months of age and it takes about a month once they start laying to get the eggs up to a medium size.

close-up photo of Black Australorp laying hens

Once mature, we try to keep the laying hens on locally grown whole grains as much as possible.

They may get wheat, oats, barley, rye, or some combination depending on what's available from neighboring farmers.

They also range for bugs and green grass and clover in their pens.

We supplement with a custom-blended layer ration containing corn, soybeans, and vitamins during cold weather.

We raise Black Australorp chickens mostly, and a few Ameraucanas. The Black Australorps are hardy and cold-tolerant, and continue to lay eggs right through our Minnesota winters. The Ameraucanas are just for fun -- they lay blue- and green-shelled eggs.

hoop shelter for laying hens

laying hens roaming outside

The hens live in large pens with hoop-house shelters. Hens are free to roam within those pens, and are never caged.

Hen flocks rotate among pens. A flock will normally stay in one pen for two years; then that pen will be used for vegetable garden or meat chickens for a couple of years before rotating it back into laying hens.

The chickens eat all of the grass and weeds in their pen, scratch up and spread around the hay or straw used for bedding, and create a lovely, fertile garden soil.

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