Our Breeding Program
Just like our cows, our chickens are well taken care of to insure their happiness! A happy chicken will always lay more eggs! We have 4 types of chickens: Ameraucana, Delaware, Copper Marans and Welsummer.
All of our chickens are free range. Allowing our chickens to roam freely makes them happier and healthier! We use mobile coops that are moved around the pasture on a regular basis. We do supplement our chickens' diet with locally purchased grains and mineral to ensure proper health and nutrition.
Deer Run Farm participates in the NPIP monitoring program for Avian Influenza, Salmonella Pullorum Typhoid, Mycoplasma Gallisepticum and Mycoplasma Synoviae. Most hatcheries will only test for what's required for their state. In most states, a simple yearly PT test is all that's necessary, but some will require the AI test also. We're happy to test our birds for mycoplasmas quarterly, although not required by the state, so we can confidently provide our customers with the healthiest and cleanest chickens and eggs possible. This additional measure is out of curtesy for our customers because their flocks, just like our own, are family.
NPIP # MD 51-578
While the previous owners (Whitmore Farm) of our poultry operation did a fantastic job of raising these birds to the standards of perfection in the APA by implementing flock breeding, Deer Run Farm has decided to team up with the Sustainable Poultry Network to use their breeding and genetic expertise and implement some selective breeding for each flock. Doing so will help strengthen some of the bloodlines and best qualities in each flock. Our new program will allow us to hatch out our replacement birds from our selective pens only. We will then grow them out and put the best back into our flock breeding groups. This will, in time, strengthen the overall bloodlines within the flock breeding groups also! Our goal is to continue to provide the best, show quality, naturally raised on pasture, heritage birds to our customers.
Each breed's flock has three designated selective breeding pens. These selective breeding pens have one rooster with twelve to fifteen hens. Each pen is designated to concentrate on specific traits or genetics of those birds. The idea is take the best of their offspring and funnel them back into the main (overall) flock. When done correctly, we will be ultimately creating 3 lines of each breed that can then be bred to one another to help better specific traits amongst themselves. Customers can be assured that our breeding program is designed specifically to breed birds of high quality that maintain their heritage roots, that can compete in shows, and carry strong emphasis of proper egg color for their breed.
We are currently in the MENTORING BREEDER FLOCKS program of SPN-USA. This means we're working our way up to having all four of our breeds certified through SPN-USA. With the size of our flocks it'll be a longer process than most to become certified, but certainly worth it to know that our flocks will be evaluated annually. This annual evaluation will give the creditability, assurance, and authenticity that our flocks of poultry are true to breed and are being bred to the highest excellence for vigor, standard qualities, and production qualities.
There is a lot of confusion regarding the terms used to describe how poultry are raised. Below are some clarifications.
Pastured - means they are raised outdoors on grass. Some people use temporary fencing to protect the poultry and move the pens on a daily basis. Deer Run Farm allows its chickens to roam freely, out in the open, and relies on guard dogs for protection.
Organic - means they are fed grains and other foodstuff that have been grown without chemicals and that have not been genetically modified. It also means no antibiotics or hormone supplements are fed to the animals. Chickens can still be raised inhumanely in tiny cages in factory farms and fed organic grains. The eggs and meat will not have all the nutrition benefits associated with pastured products.
Free Range - means the animal is not individually caged and has access to outdoors. Access can be an open window or a door to a small run that may be open for a few minutes a day. Chickens can still be raised inhumanely with thousands of animals crammed in a metal shed, shoulder to shoulder, walking in their own feces. The eggs and meat will not have any of the nutritional benefits associated with pastured products.
Bottom line, grass is where it's at! Let a chicken be a chicken and do chicken like things outdoors! They are happier, you get better tasting, more nutritious food! Come by sometime and see for yourself. Visitors are welcome at Deer Run Farm.
Eggs and chicks from Deer Run Farm will be marked with the Heritage Chicken Hatchery logo seen above.
If you are in need of poultry health advise or poultry veterinary services, we highly recommend McKillop Poultry Medicine in Frederick, Maryland. Dr. McKillop has been invaluable in helping us take our poultry management and hatchery operation to the next level. She is knowledgeable, friendly and her fees are reasonable. Visit her website here.