Compare that to the broilers. They also have the opportunity to hunt for food in their runs and we started to move the tractors every day so they would have fresh pasture each day. We also toss in garden scraps and cobs of corn. But where Amelia's crowd would be all over things like the corn or broccoli, the broilers seem uncertain as to what exactly has been offered to them. They do all the normal chicken things like scratching and pecking, but there seems to be a disconnect between the pasture they are on and the greens that we throw into their run. I wonder if it's the example of the mom that's missing? Where Amelia has trained her brood by example, the broilers have only had instinct to go on. So until the brave one pecks at the cabbage and tries it, the cabbage will lie there wilting. In the tractor down the field, though, Amelia will attack the cabbage which will incite her young ones to swoop in.
I have wondered if it's also the nature of the hatchery broiler... that even though ours aren't the "commercial" variety of broiler, they have been selected as good meat birds by the commercial hatcheries. It's difficult to find a hatchery where you can order 60 heritage type birds to raise for meat. The hatchery offers you the 4 types that produce the top results for the least amount of time / feed. These chickens have been bred to sit by the feeder and "efficiently convert feed to weight". So while the variety that we chose would be what I consider a "normal" chicken (ie something that can live for more than 9 weeks before it dies of a heart attack), it is still not the kind of chicken that I would hatch out my flock if I could hatch 60 chicks at a time.
So, being a variety that is perhaps more out of touch with its heritage than the layers, my broilers are maybe somewhat less instinctual than my hatched mutt chickens. And couple that with the absence of an experienced mom, the broilers perhaps haven't learned about all the good things they can eat. This makes them more dependant on their feed than I had hoped. My layers eat very little feed because they have access to anything they want on the property - they don't need store-bought food. But the broilers eat more than I had expected. Of course, they are teenage chickens which means they don't do much more than eat, but when we started this I had visions of buying very little feed (thinking that they would be "living off the land"...) and so I'm surprised at how much it's costing to feed them. Unlike raising teenage humans, cost of feed directly translates into cost of final product. I believe, however, that what they eat off the pasture will make them healthy and hopefully tasty and worth every penny!