Humane Welfare for our chickens is a deep, multi-faceted issue. Raising humane, stress-free meat for our family is what started this entire journey to create our farm to raise happy and healthy chickens.
We formed the two most important aspects of the way we raise poultry from a desire to allow chickens to be chickens: space to roam freely, and time to grow. Americans are accustomed to eating young animals because it makes more economic sense for our corporate-based farming structure. Slow growing animals take more time and cost more to produce, yet yield an immensely better product.
Beyond the benefits of flavor and texture, slower-growing animals are more humane. The entire corporate model for profitable meat is to get the animal as large as you can, as fast as you can, in as little space as possible. Allowing our chickens the time to grow allows us to select and work with breeds that are healthier and more robust than modern chicken, without the stressful daily life of factory farming.
We build our network based on trust. Caring for animals that will nourish our bodies is one of the highest callings and a responsibility that we do not take lightly. We strive to be one of the most transparent farm of our times, sharing all aspects of our life on the farm, the lives of our animals, and the care we provide. Visitors are welcome to areas of the farm, though very strict bio security measures are taken to protect our flocks.
The average chicken processed for meat in America is still a baby with down feathers on its head. Our chickens are processed for meat at 12-16 weeks of age, 2-3 times longer than industry standard. They are never given hormones or antibiotics and have a more natural constitution than conventional chickens.
Factory Farmed chicken is never handled by a human until “catch teams” have to chaotically pen them up prior to processing. We personally interact with each and every chicken on our farm. We handle them from chicks through to adults. Our child plays with them daily, and they run to greet us at the gates. Our chickens are processed for their meat by humans and not machines, and, because of their familiarity with humans, don’t experience stress from being handled.
We stock our pastures and coops at minimal levels. Because chickens are flock animals, and like to be in groups, none of our pasture groups are larger than 150 chickens. Our housing opens on all sides during daylight hours with acres of land for the chickens to roam. Our innovative moving pasture shelters rotate through areas of pasture to encourage a varied diet from the land and protect the flock from aerial predators.
Most factory farmed chickens are de-beaked to allow for higher stocking densities and less food waste. Our heritage chickens are standard bred to be real chickens like chickens have always been intended to be through generations. Our slow growing broilers are designed to be able to live a long and fruitful life. All types of chickens that we raise can reproduce on their own and live long and productive lives. Our chickens are never treated with antibiotics or growth hormones or physical alterations like most factory farmed chickens.
Our chickens are enclosed at night only to protect them from predators as they sleep. During the day they have access to acres of native pastures and are given hundreds of square feet of space per bird to roam. We often provide each chicken more than 10 times the space of the most stringent welfare standards.
Our chickens are kept in natural flock environments with ample perch space off of the ground at night and vast fields to roam in and practice normal chicken behaviors. Natural environments provide for natural disease and parasite resistance and allows chickens to build natural immunities to pathogens as they grow.
We use a local USDA processor so that our birds can be transported the shortest distance possible, limiting any additional stressors to our birds.
If a chicken can have a meaningful life after injury or illness, it is never placed into our meat program, but placed in our home flock. If we can treat, we will, and remove that animal from the service line. If any animal is stressed by an injury or illness that cannot be resolved, we humanely euthanize immediately. We are transparent farmers that nurture and love our animals and respect our position in the food chain.
We currently utilize mostly hybrid broiler lines, bred to provide more meat for the modern consumer. We specifically only use broiler breeds that are designed to be closer to heritage chickens and are able to live normal lives. We are working on improving a heritage line of poultry to lessen our dependance on the corporate farming system. Our heritage breeding program revolves around breeding healthy birds that are able to withstand the pressures of their environment without the use of antibiotics. We focus on breeding the strongest individuals with the best traits to preserve our self-sustainable flock of utility chickens for homesteaders everywhere.
We feed locally-milled, non-gmo feed to all of our chickens. They are never given inflated protein levels to increase weight faster than is normal for their bodies. Our feed is never treated with antibiotics or hormones.