There are approximately 1000 chickens on the farm. FarmAbility co-farmers are involved in collecting eggs, checking, sorting and grading them, and packing them for customers around Oxford. On Fridays, co-farmers go out on the egg delivery route with a FarmAbility Programme Leader.
Chickens like to live together as a flock with a distinct hierarchy or “pecking order”. They would naturally spend their day foraging for food, scratching the ground looking for insects and seeds.
On the farm we have chickens dedicated to laying eggs, which we sell into Oxford, as well as chickens dedicated to FAI’s higher welfare meat chicken breeding programme. Several times a year FAI collects fertile eggs from the breeding stock and hatches them in incubators.
Trees in the field
The PINE (Poultry In Natural Environment) project was carried out by FAI and the University to study the interaction between chickens and trees. The study aimed to answer several questions:
Can a tree-less field be planted with trees and become commercially viable for poultry?
Is the welfare of chickens increased by the planting of trees?
Are chickens good for trees?
Do chickens have an impact on the environment?
The ancestors of chickens were Jungle Fowl that lived in the jungle. Their modern descendants still like to be near trees. FAI provides as many trees as possible for all its poultry.
Trees provide protection and shelter from the climate, protection from predators, as well as an additional source of food, encouraging the birds to range.