We raise Pastured Chickens out on real pasture. They live in a shelter called a "chicken tractor" that gets moved every day. During their first few days, we supplement them with apple cider vinegar, but we don't ever use antibiotics.
If you get advice for staying healthy, a few things become repetitive: get exercise, eat well, get fresh air, wash your hands, and get plenty of sleep. This is pretty much what our animals get every day: exercise, varied diet, fresh air, a clean pasture spot, and plenty of time and space to relax. This is why we don't require antibiotics or pesticides to keep them healthy.
Studies have shown pastured chicken contains:
• 50% more Vitamin A
• Up to 8 times the Vitamin D
• Up to 4 times the Vitamin E...
• Over 30% less saturated fat
• Over 25% fewer calories
...than commercially raised chicken.*
Most of these nutritional benefits come from the bird's exposure to sunlight and inclusion of fresh greens and bugs in their diet.
*Nutrient composition based on two studies by the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (www.apppa.org)
Pasturing is the placement of animals on growing plants, moved frequently to encourage hygiene, health, and green feed consumption.
We keep our chicks in a deep-mulch brooder for 2-3 weeks. Once born, the chicks are small in size and lack the feathers that would protect them from nature's hasher elements. You might wonder how that is a safe, clean environment for our chicks. Nature does sanitizing in two ways: rest and sunshine, or vibrant decomposition. That is where deep bedding (or mulch) comes in. This just means that we provide adequate depth of mulch for microbes and other beneficial soil life to live happily underneath thechicks, turning all the waste (and odors) into glorious, nutrient-rich compost. In addition, all of the busy activity of the microbes gives off heat, making for a natural, warm, and cozy environment for the chicks. When the outside temperature dips, we use heat lamps to keep the chicks in a stable 92 degree environment. When it's too warm out, we are able to provide lots of ventilation, or even install a fan if it's needed. In this deep-mulch situation, the chicks are able to practice their God-given ability and desire to scratch, while finding natural sources of protein (though the little critters and bugs) while they are at it! This deep bedding system also inhibits the growth of pathogens because the nematodes attack disease-causing bugs. Think of it this way: the good guys are flourishing, and keeping the bad guys in check! For all of these reasons, the chicks thrive! We also supplement the chicks with raw apple cider vinegar to bolster their immune system, further helping them to stay healthy.
Once on pasture, birds are housed in a portable coop, called a tractor, to protect them from the elements and predators. This coop is moved daily to ensure a clean environment for the birds and fresh greens for them to eat. They have all the fresh air and sunshine they could ask for, as well as shade on a hot day. They are supplemented with a locally sourced grain mixture to keep them growing well, as a chicken was designed to eat grains (that’s why they have a gizzard!). We use absolutely no antibiotics.
BONUS: See the juvenile bald eagle sitting on top of the rear chicken tractor? He frequented our chickens for several days in a row, but thanks to tight chicken wire, we didn't lose a single chicken to him!
Our broilers are harvested at 7-9 weeks old. FSIS exemption PL 90-492 allows us to process the chickens in our own facility. The exemption does, however, limit us to in-state sales. We take great care in our processing, as we know this is where the threat of contamination is greatest. Birds are packaged in heat shrink bags, labeled, and frozen, if not picked up day of processing. We cannot keep them in the fridge for you, they must be frozen. Most companies add preservatives and “flavor enhancers” during processing to make up for the lack of natural flavor in the bird. We, on the other hand, add nothing to our birds when they are processed. Minimal processing ensures that the amazing flavor coming from a natural and varied diet shines through.
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