What is Pasture Raised Poultry? Simple, it’s chicken raised outside instead of in a warehouse. It’s chicken raised on fresh grass, with fresh air, sunlight, insects, dirt and everything else that comes with being outside. It’s chicken that benefits the land its raised on instead of destroying it. It’s chicken raised on family farms to serve their community.
We raise our chicken outside because we think the benefits are worth the extra work. We have our feed custom mixed to avoid antibiotics, medication, low quality fillers and by-products. Our birds are fed corn, soy, oats, calcium, kelp, fish meal, probiotics and mostly certified organic supplements. We process our chicken on the farm to avoid transportation stress and to ensure a clean and safe product. Finally, we promise to be transparent and open source, we invite you to look over our shoulders every step of the way; we keep no secrets.
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We receive our chicks 24-48 hours after they hatch. They are raised in a large “brooder,” where they receive supplemental heat, feed and water. We’ve built our brooders in the upstairs of a large barn, where the chicks receive sunlight and fresh air. It’s not warm enough for them to go outside until the end of May, so we don’t get our first chicks of the year until the beginning of May.
They are kept on about 12 inches of wood shavings and sawdust. This allows their waste to compost, keeping the brooder clean, eliminating odors, preventing parasite problems and keeping the birds healthy. These birds will need to be very healthy to grow as fast as they do without the medication and antibiotics.
The chicks are raised in batches of 60-80, sometimes along with a dozen turkeys. In the brooder, though, we can raise two batches at once. They spend 2-3 weeks inside until they are mature and the weather is right. Then they are moved to one of our portable shelters.
Our shelters accommodate approximately 60-80 birds and they are moved every morning to fresh grass. This gives them access to fresh air, sunlight and a clean area to move around.
This arrangement also allows chickens to eat grass and insects along with the feed that we give them. This accounts for about 10-20% of their total feed intake.
By moving the houses daily, we completely eliminate the risk of parasites like coccidia and because of this there is no need to put antibiotics or medication in our feed. It also spreads their manure around our pasture helping it grow back stronger in just a few weeks.
We’re very particular about the feed that we use to raise our birds. With few exceptions, we do not use premixed feed from the store, as the ingredients are often unknown to us and of questionable origin. To avoid these feeds, we have our own mixed and ground at the Stephenson Marketing Coop.
Our feed contains a mix of corn, oats, soy beans and a mix of organic Fertrell supplements, including kelp meal, fish meal and a poultry Nutri-Balancer, which is a poultry-specific blend of vitamins and minerals. Our ration is based on the feed used by farmer and author Joel Salatin at Polyface in Swoope Virginia.
As a result of the added stress of transporting birds to a remote processing facility, a lack of flexibility in packaging and timing, high costs and concerns about cleanliness and humane slaughtering, we do much of our poultry processing and packaging on the farm. This ensures a humane, clean and transparent process.
Chicken are packaged in BPA free shrink bags, labeled, weighed and frozen. If you pickup fresh you can get them before they go into the deep freezer and freeze them yourself.
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