Following organic practices as we dedicate ourselves to regenerative agriculture
Healthy Chicken Flocks
History of our chickens
In 2010, I had the opportunity to move to the hills of Los Gatos, where I rented a little studio above a garage on 20 acres of pretty rugged terrain. But I got permission to have a backyard garden, bring in some chickens, and do what I called “a little bit of homesteading.” The 5 years on that property were really the catalyst for Corvus Farm. Chickens, ducks, rabbits, and an array of raised planter beds really got me going. That first batch of 7 “homesteading hens” was my first foray into the world of poultry. Pudge, Shoes, Roxy, Flopsy, Buff, Other Buff, Red, and Red Two (my son and I ran out of creative names with the two Buff Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds) taught me just about everything I know today about chickens. And Buff lived until the fall of 2020, when she passed away as “Aunty Buff” to my flock of layers now. She was 10 years old. In fact, it’s pretty common to run into birds that are old partners and friends. There is a definite retirement plan and community of old hens here on the farm.
By spring of 2020, the flock had grown to 52 hens. There was a time when I thought that was a lot. But I had no idea that things were about to change from a hobby farm to a small commercial venture. When the opportunity to move to the current location came, the flock expanded to 550+ hens and roosters. And by the end of 2020, Corvus Farm was a bona fide egg ranch.
Corvus Farm isn’t a traditional production egg ranch. While there are plenty of “production breeds,” like sex links and Red Crosses, most of the birds you’ll find here are heritage breeds. They are good layers, but also beautiful. And they have great personalities. Current breeds include Red Cross, Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red, Delaware, Barred Rock, Dominique, Danish Brown Leghorn, White Plymouth Rock, Black Sex Link, Black Copper Marans, Ameraucana, Legbar, Buff Orpington, Light Brahma, and Buff Brahma.
In March of 2021, Corvus welcomed 650 new day-old chicks to the farm. Doubling the flock will allow the farm to meet demand for its outstanding pastured eggs. More layers will arrive throughout the year, but this first batch is oriented toward production laying hens, with Black Sex Links and Red Crosses numbering 450. But there are 150 Barred Rocks and Cuckoo Marans for variety. Marans lay an amazing, dark-brown egg, often referred to as “chocolate.”
At Corvus Farm, I believe every animal should get to live to the fullest expression of itself. For chickens, it means being able to come and go as they please, freely roaming around 30 acres of fields covered in grasses, clovers, grains, and flowers. They forage for insects and seeds, and scratch into the dirt to find the best bits. The only time they are indoors is at night, when they take themselves to bed in their coop. I close the door to keep them safe from predators, but am there first thing in the morning to let them out to get on with their day.
All chickens are fed an organic diet of feed from Modesto Milling to supplement their foraging efforts. I also include grit for digestion, oyster shell for calcium, and mixed organic seeds and scratch grains as treats. It’s also common for them to have fresh greens, fruits and vegetables from local farm surpluses.
I’m what you might call “Rooster Friendly” at the farm. I don’t go out of my way to order roosters for the flock. But I don’t mind when they turn up in a batch of day-old babies arriving from the hatchery. In general, about 10 percent of purchased chicks are mis-identified as hens. I don’t know they’re roosters until they get a little older and start crowing. A lot of small farms cull their roos. But I prefer to let them grow up with the flock. They make great protectors of the ladies and are fierce when it comes to fending off predators. In extreme cases, roosters will even sacrifice themselves to keep the hens (and their offspring) alive. So I think that more than earns them their keep. Plus, the farm just sounds more like a farm with the roosters crowing.