If you are new to the term silvopasture the concept itself is pretty simple. It is the combination of trees and grass together to provide food and shelter for pastured animals. In our case, pastured chicken, but the same concept applies to goats, cows, geese and more. While silvopasture isn’t something you hear much about, it’s a concept as old as time. One of the key values at Humblebee Farms is to work in partnership with nature, rather than against it. The idea of transforming our cedar-filled woods into a silvopasture gave us the opportunity to put the land to work while improving the ecology of the soil.
Chickens can be great partners in land restoration. Their natural inclination to scratch works the soil gently, while their manure fertilizes the land. And the chickens benefit, too. Instead of being cramped up in a dirt-floor chicken run, they enjoy a fresh salad bar every month. Further, allowing the chickens the opportunity to free-range helps reduce feed cost and improves their health. Chickens are naturally omnivores and will gobble up a cricket or even a small snake in two shakes of a wing!
While there are still some “kinks” to work out with our silvopasture poultry system, we are pleased with this first attempt. In the future we plan to use a mobile tractor to house our meat birds so we can easily move them around property.
What about predators you ask? So far we have not had any losses due to predators (knock on wood). The electric poultry mesh carries enough voltage to give a good zap to a curious coyote or rascally racoon. And foraging amongst the trees, the girls have lots of hiding places to duck to in case of an aerial predator. We also like to keep a rooster with our egg-laying flock. His job is to protect the gals and he does a very good job of it.
Learn more about our approach to silvopasture poultry in this short video.