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When we first receive our chicks they are put into our 98° brooder along with food, water, and fresh bedding. Chicks require warmth and protection from the elements until they are fully feathered.
At two-three weeks old we move them into our mobile chicken shelters on the pasture. In these shelters they are still provided protection from rain, but they also have sunshine, fresh air, bugs, and grass. We move each chicken shelter every single morning to a fresh patch of grass. This movement provides a fresh array of food and it moves the birds away from their old manure. In addition they are given a GMO free grain ration which we source from a local grain mill.
The movement of the birds also allows us to control the amount of manure getting deposited into the soil. Chicken manure is very high in nitrogen and the soil and grass can easily become burned out with too much manure. Have you ever seen a dirt-only chicken yard with not a single blade of grass? It is inevitable when birds are kept in one area for too long.
We have figured out the perfect amount of chickens per shelter per day to give our soil the nutrients it needs without damaging the soil life with an over abundance of nitrogen. The results are healthy chickens and healthy soil. The grass that grows back behind the chicken shelters is lush, green, and always the first choice for herbivores. And of course, we never have to use antibiotics because our chickens are healthy and robust, not living on pathogen-rich dirt lots where antibiotic feed is necessary just to keep them alive.
This method of raising pastured chickens, with a farmer who understands beneficial impaction vs. harmful impaction, has been shown to be one of the best and fastest ways to build soil!
Once the chickens are ready to harvest, we do so in our on-farm processing facility. We process under our state’s poultry exemption. Everything is done with our own hands and we carefully inspect the health and quality of each bird that ultimately goes into the freezer.
The processed chickens are first ‘aged’ in refrigeration for 24 hours before freezing. This allows the muscle to break down and provides an incredibly tender bird.