Life on the Land
Introducing our new pasture-raised chicken supplier – Life on the Land.
Based at Tallarook, Victoria, Life On The Land is the brainchild of Steve Zezos, a former IT professional who grew up on a farm and returned to his rural roots to set up the farm two years ago. “The land called me back,” he says, “it was very much like a calling, something I had to do.”
Life on the Land is a pasture-raised chicken and cattle farm that employs natural methods of livestock rearing. “We look to nature as template for how we raise animals on the farm,” says Steve. “We don't see ourselves as chicken farmers or cattle farmers, we see ourselves as the regenerators of land, employing natural habitat and processes to raise our animals.”
When setting up Life on the Land Steve and his team studied the migration patterns of large herd herbivores like wildebeest and buffalo and mimicked their system of cell grazing with his cattle, grouping them together and moving them onto fresh grass each day. The cattle’s progress around the farm is followed by the chickens, who pick what the cows leave behind, stimulating bursts of grass growth and creating a lot of food for the micro-organisms in the soil.
“We observe patterns in nature and emulate them in the way we treat the land and the animals,” says Steve who has observed an increase in the fertility of the land year-on-year meaning he's been able to stock more animals as a result.
Steve's pasture-raised chickens live outdoors and are moved daily so they always have fresh forage. It's a unique approach in comparison to traditional 'free range' farming which sees chickens housed in sheds and let out for limited periods each day. Life on the Land chickens live outdoors with access to movable shelters that protect them from the elements and natural predators like foxes and wedge tailed eagles. Life on the Land birds graze land free from chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides, eat non-GMO, hormone and antibiotic-free grain mix and enjoy all the benefits of outdoor living.
“The chickens love eating the grass and know exactly how to find the most delicious shoots,” says Steve. “Recently, with the rain, we've had a big flush of clover and the chickens loved it because it's a legume so it's sweet. You could see the chickens reaching out with their claws to pull the grass seed down to ground level so they could eat it easily. You could actually hear them crunching the grass like cows. They have a year-round salad bar.”
Life on the Land's farming practices produce chickens high in Omega 3 oils with beautiful yellow-tinged fat, distinctive flavour and juicy succulent meat. “You don't need to smash our chickens with spices and sauces to disguise lack of flavour,” says Steve. “Salt, pepper, a lemon in the cavity with some thyme, and you have the perfect roast chicken.”
And Life on the Land's farming practices don't just benefit the end consumer, they also benefit the chickens. “We really honour the natural habits of the birds,” Steve explains. “They get to feel the sunlight on their face, enjoy a nutrient-packed diet and practice all their natural habits. They scratch in the dirt, roost, and sunbathe, sticking their legs out and spreading their wings so they really soak up the sun. Raising chickens this way, following natural patterns, is better than sustainable, it's regeneration.”