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A Different Kind of Chicken Farm – Italian Farmer Raises Thousands of Chickens in the Woods

Most chicken farms nowadays consists of hangar-like facilities where chickens are cooped up by the thousands with hardly enough space to move around and, in some cases, no sunlight. It’s sad, but it’s also the only way food corporations can keep up with the increasing demand for cheap meat and eggs. However, one farmer in northern Italy runs a very different type of poultry farm – he is raising over 2,000 chickens in a patch of pristine Alpine forest.

48-year-old Massimo Rapella claims he became a chicken farmer by accident. He and his wife used to run an education NGO in the town of Sandrio, in northern Italy’s Valtellina valley, but when the 2008 financial crisis hit and the Italian government cut funding for social enterprises, they decided to move to the nearby mountains. They got a few chickens to provide eggs for their own consumption and soon noticed something interesting. The domesticated birds loved venturing into the nearby chestnut forest, but instead of building a fence to prevent them from doing so, the Rapellas actually encouraged this behavior. Today, they own around 2,100 chickens who spend their days rummaging and laying eggs in a 2-hectare patch of Alpine chestnut forest.

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