In addition to the organizational power that comes from operating within an ecosystem; a massive reduction of off-the-farm input costs is one of the regenerative poultry-centered farm enterprise model’s greatest contributions to a farmers bottom line.
Like most poultry farmers, the producers we support order chicks from a hatchery. Chicks and feed are the primary off-the-farm input costs of the regenerative poultry production model on which the greater ecosystem operates.
Feed and supplements are two of the few components of the carbon cycle that the regenerative poultry ecosystem does not generate itself; so these inputs must be bought off the farm. Though not required for processing or technical assistance services, producers who wish to market through Tree-Range ® Farms, LLC must use certified organic feed.
Apart from a little electrolyte powder starting at week two, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is the main recommended supplement. Apple cider vinegar that is unfiltered still has the “mother,” which contains powerful, gut-friendly probiotics. Together with garlic, onion, and elderberry extract, apple cider vinegar acts as a natural medicine that staves off infections and improves feed conversion in chickens.
Manure harvested from the coops is spread to other parts of the farm or sold. As a slow release fertilizer, poultry manure improves the nutrition of the soil by continuously feeding the soil ecosystems and reducing salinization.
Fertilizing with manure activates the critical microbial and fungal life in soil, which in turn make other nutrients and micronutrients available to the soil and plants, who are then able to sequester more carbon from the atmosphere. The more carbon there is in the soil, the more it is able to absorb, retain, and retrieve water.
Heavy layering of composted wood chips and poultry manure early in the season serves not just as a soil amendment, but as a tremendous mulch and weed suppressor as well. When nutritional needs are met in conjunction with optimal sunlight, water, oxygen, and CO2 levels, the natural defenses of plants are higher. Greater biodiversity on the farm generally leads to lesser pest impact, too.
Healthy plants biosynthesize volatile molecules and metabolites faster to produce the flavors and aromas of food. In this way, regenerative farmers do more than restore soil and their bottom lines: They provide consumers with healthier, tastier food; and a world with less carbon to worry about.