Pasture-raised poultry farming is completely different from conventional poultry farming. One of the most obvious differences is foraging behavior. In a pasture-raised system, chickens forage fresh grass every day. In a conventional poultry house, foraging is altogether impossible.
Chickens have been selectively bred by humans for quite some time, but their wild ancestor still lives in its native habitat in Southeast Asia. If we want to know what “natural behavior” looks like for a chicken, all we have to do is look to the Red Junglefowl for examples. Red Junglefowl are opportunistic omnivores that consume seeds, vegetation, insects, and other invertebrates. They scratch at the ground to reveal hidden bugs and then quickly peck and grab them with their beaks. They also peck and rip apart supple grasses and certain broadleaf weeds. Both the “scratch and peck” behavior and the “peck and rip” behavior are very familiar to anyone who has been around a backyard flock of chickens. By raising chickens on pasture we allow them to exhibit their innate foraging behaviors, still on display in the wilds of Southeast Asia.
In contrast, conventionally-grown chickens are confined in large metal buildings with no grass, soil, or bugs (except for the ones living in the fecal-contaminated litter). Natural foraging behavior is impossible in this man-made environment.
We believe that all creatures are happier and healthier when allowed to exhibit their natural behaviors and live in the sunshine.