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Can Organic Pasture-Raised Farming Methods Help Improve Soil?


Howdy, everyone! I'm Michael Jimenez, the 22-year-old owner of JMZ Farms here in Colleyville, Texas. Today, I want to talk about something very close to my heart and vital to the farm: the soil. You might not think much about soil, but it’s the foundation of everything I do here. It’s where my chickens roam and where the grass they eat grows. So, the big question is: Can organic pasture-raised farming methods help improve soil? Spoiler alert – yes, they can! Let me explain how.


What Is Organic Pasture-Raised Farming?

First, let’s break down what organic pasture-raised farming means. “Organic” means I don’t use harmful chemicals, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers on the farm. Everything I do is natural and healthy for my chickens and the environment. “Pasture-raised” means my chickens aren’t stuck in cages or metal buildings. They roam freely on the pasture, enjoying fresh air, sunlight, and plenty of space to peck and scratch.


How Do Chickens Help the Soil?

Here’s an interesting fact: Did you know that chickens are natural tillers? That means they help turn and mix the soil with their feet and beaks. When our chickens scratch the ground looking for bugs and worms, they break up the soil, making it loose and fluffy. This helps air and water reach deeper into the ground, which is great for plants.


But that’s not all! Chickens also leave behind their manure, which is a fantastic natural fertilizer. Chicken manure is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – three essential nutrients that plants need to grow. So, our chickens are not just eating; they’re also giving back to the soil, making it healthier and more fertile.


The Magic of Rotational Grazing

At JMZ Farms, we use a method called rotational grazing. This is a fancy way of saying we move our chickens to different parts of the pasture regularly here we do it on a weekly basis. Why do we do this? Well, if chickens stay in one place for too long, they can overgraze the grass and leave too much manure in one spot, which isn’t good for the soil. By moving them around, we make sure the grass has time to recover and grow even stronger.


Rotational grazing mimics how animals in the wild move from place to place. It helps prevent soil erosion, meaning the soil doesn’t get washed away by rain. It also encourages a diversity of plants to grow, which is great for the ecosystem.


Joel Salatin’s Wisdom

I’ve learned a lot from Joel Salatin, a farmer and author who is famous for his sustainable farming practices. Joel believes in working with nature, not against it. He says that the best fertilizer is the farmer’s footsteps. That means being out in the fields, observing, and understanding what the land needs.


Joel’s methods focus on using animals to improve the land. For example, he talks about “stacking” animals – using different species together to create a balanced ecosystem. You will see this on a farm when chickens follow cows in the pasture. The cows graze the grass short, and then the chickens eat the bugs that thrive in the cow manure. This keeps the bug population in check and helps break down the manure faster, improving the soil.


The Benefits of Healthy Soil

When the soil is healthy, everything else benefits. Here are some ways that improved soil helps our farm and the environment:

1.     Better Plant Growth: Healthy soil is full of nutrients, which means our pastures grow lush and green. This provides more food for our chickens and other animals.

2.     Water Retention: Good soil holds water like a sponge, which means we need less irrigation. This is especially important in places like Texas, where we can have long dry spells.

3.     Carbon Sequestration: Healthy soil captures carbon from the atmosphere, helping to combat climate change. Plants take in carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and store it in the soil through their roots.

4.     Biodiversity: A variety of plants and animals in the soil create a balanced ecosystem. This means fewer pests, and diseases and more pollinators.


Teaching the Next Generation

One of my favorite things about farming is sharing what I’ve learned with others, especially kids. It’s amazing to see their eyes light up when they learn how chickens help the soil or how we can farm without chemicals. By teaching the next generation about organic and pasture-raised farming, we’re planting the seeds for a more sustainable future.


So, can organic pasture-raised farming methods help improve soil? Absolutely! By letting our chickens roam freely, using rotational grazing, and following the wisdom of experienced farmers like Joel Salatin, we’re not just growing healthier food – we’re also taking care of the land for future generations.


I hope you found this explanation easy to understand and as exciting as I do. Remember, the next time you enjoy our delicious eggs, you also support a farming method that cares for the earth. Thanks for being part of our journey here at JMZ Farms!

Feel free to visit us and see our happy chickens and healthy pastures in person. Until next time, happy farming!

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