A Day in the life

 

As far as “quality of life” goes, the Craft Farmers’ Co-op hens lead an enviable life. On any given day, they do precisely as they like.

A typical day starts around dawn. Hens usually lay their eggs early in the day, in darkened nest boxes, from which they can come and go as they please.

Out into the paddock

Once they’ve laid, our hens tend to head outside to check what’s new in their paddock. That said, being “free range” means the hens are free to do what they want. Some are more curious than others and prefer to be outside for as long as possible each day, while others are shy and favour staying close to the shed.

Hens are inquisitive, social creatures. Contrary to what you’d expect, larger flocks are happier, as the social hierarchy – yes, the pecking order – is more relaxed.

You can tell when our hens are happy, because they sound happy. They socialise with each other, are curious and they forage contentedly.

Bathing, foraging and preening

One of a hens’ favourite activities is dust bathing, which keeps their feathers healthy. A well-designed free range farm is well covered in trees and provides plenty of scope for dust bathing.

Despite popular believe, large open fields of grass are not a hen’s natural environment. They were originally forest dwellers – known as “jungle fowl” – and are most comfortable when they have tree cover for shelter and to forage beneath.

Foraging takes up most of our hens’ waking hours. Not only does it provide them with a source of food, it’s valuable exercise and simply an enjoyable use of their time.

Complementing the chaos of dust bathing – but equally satistying to our hens – is preening. Hens can preen on their own, but prefer to do so alongside company.

Night time routine

Most of our hens come and go from their barn during the day. They consider it their safe “home” and it is also where their food and water is located.

Many of our hens opt to stay outside for the longest time possible each day, while others return to the barn early – keen to secure their place for the night. Most perch naturally; others prefer to sleep at floor level, cuddled together. Come nightfall, they quieten down and sleep in silence.

Hens’ family trees

Because Craft Farmers' Co-op is supplied by independent free-range egg producers, different farms have different breeds of hens.

For instance, Lakeside Farm has Hy-Line hens, which are known for their exceptional egg production and being great-natured hens. This hen breed is energetic, hard-working foragers – exactly what you want in a free range hen.