In the midst of getting our poultry processing plant off the ground – here’s a behind the scenes look at us in the thick of it – I figured now would be a great time to share more about our poultry, why we keep them on pasture and how it makes for healthier birds and more nutritious eggs and meat.
P.S: We hope to have more pastured chicken for sale in the summer, after our processing plant has been built. Stay tuned for more info soon!
More often than not, chickens and eggs that are supplied to grocery stores come from birds who spend most of their growing lives in barns as part of fully automated, climate controlled systems. This method is arguably less labor-intensive, however on our farm we prefer to let both our laying hens and broiler chickens roam and spend their days out on the pasture.
Aside from having more space to forage, peck and scratch, keeping them on pasture offers them significant health benefits. The forage they ingest is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and energy compared to just feed alone and makes for a much more balanced diet. Some studies have also suggested that a chicken ingesting even two blades of grass a day can help protect them from contracting diseases, such as Avian Flu.
The trade-off to these benefits is that having pastured poultry means time has to be spent moving the birds from brooder to pasture and then rotating the birds from one section of pasture to another – we do this once daily. Since pastured poultry move around more frequently they’re less efficient at eating feed so it takes longer for them to reach their target weight, which increases our costs. It’s all worth it though, knowing we’re doing things the right way (and not the fast way) to deliver a healthier product to our customers in the long run.
Healthier Eggs and Meat
Farm fresh eggs are always delicious, but ones that come from pastured poultry are even better! Research has shown that these eggs have a higher nutritional profile with less cholesterol, more vitamin A and E, more Omega-3s and a better ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6s as compared with eggs from their barn-raised counterparts.
Pastured poultry meat has the same benefits as the eggs, but also has a higher iron content and, at least to us, tastes richer and more flavorful.
An added bonus to keeping our poultry on pasture is their role in contributing to our regenerative soil health practices. They follow behind our cattle and peck and scratch through cow pies, eating flies and fly larvae, spreading the manure, mixing it with the soil, creating fertilizer and strengthening soil structures all the while ensuring that our pastures will be viable for many years to come.