Only natural methods are used, so numbers are small, the aim is for quality rather than quantity.
There's great satisfaction from keeping and rearing poultry naturally resulting in quality rather than quantity. The entire flock is free range. All breeding groups are outdoors, on grass, in separate pens and housing. As segregation is necessary, capacity is limited and numbers are small.
Laying hens are kept for eggs for the household. Any surplus eggs are placed in an honesty box by the gate where neighbours and passing traffic can help themselves. They take the eggs and leave the money. It's as simple as that. Entrust to goodness and honesty and it will be honoured. Unfortunately, there's never enough surplus to meet the demand, even in the high laying season. The proceeds from the honesty box goes to help pay for the feed.
Eggs are collected daily, they are dated and labelled to identify breed. The eggs are turned daily and stored to maximise hatchability. Hatching is undertaken by broody hens only and if there are any surplus eggs they are sold. There is no difference between the eggs hatched here and the ones sold for incubation; this ensures knowledge of egg fertility at all times.
There have been occasional bad results from a hatch but it's been a known issue. All unhatched eggs are examined to determine the cause of the problem.
A all eggs are hatched using natural methods only, when a hen becomes broody she is set on a clutch of eggs. The little family is confined to a smaller space so the chicks can't stray too far from Mother Hen and perish when they get lost in tall grasses.
Little chicks must have cover above as well as on the ground. Magpies and sparrow hawks have their own broods to rear at this time of the year also and will swoop in the blink of an eye, taking each and every hatchling if they are left unprotected.
As you can see from the image above and from the following video, chicks like to scratch around and forage from a very early age. Young chicks need protection from predators and from the elements if they are being encouraged to go outdoors when very young.