Raising chicken on pasture is far more complicated than the traditional method of locking chickens in a barn with food and water. We firmly believe that chickens, or all livestock for that matter, should be able to live a happy life while still ultimately fulfilling the goal of become our food. As such all of our chickens are raised on pasture where they are free to peck at grass, eat bugs, breath fresh air, bask in the sun, etc.
Day 1 to 21
We do not hatch our own eggs and as such we buy day old chicks from Frey’s Hatchery via our local Farmers Co-Op. Chicks are hatched and shipped overnight to be picked up to head off to their new home.
Their new home for the first 3 weeks of their life is a custom made brooder. Young chicks are far too fragile to be raised in the open elements and require very specific conditions. Our brooders are located inside our barn where they are kept safe from predators while the heat lamps keep them toasty. Every week the heat lamps are slowly drawn away from the brooder so that the chicks are encouraged to grow feathers and get used to colder temperatures.
Day 22 to 55
On day 22, the chicks are moved out to pasture. In order to keep the chickens safe, they are kept in a “chicken tractor” that keeps them safe from predators and provides shelter should the weather be inclement. Our property is an old orchard that still has plenty of apple producing trees, so the chickens are run up and down the tree rows where bugs are plentiful. Not only do the chickens love it, the trees thrive from the lack of insects and the natural chicken manure fertilizer the chickens put down. Nature at its best.
Processing happens on day 56. Probably the least glamorous (and most work-filled) day on the farm but it is the culmination of all the hard work over the past 8 weeks. By law, “all meat destined for sale or distribution, without exception, must originate from livestock or poultry slaughtered in provincially licensed or federally registered establishments, or imported from a federally recognized source. ” As such, our chickens are loaded into poultry crates and brought to Morrison’s Custom Poultry Processing. There they are viewed by government inspectors to ensure health and quality of the chickens and if approved, are processed into the meat you go home with.
Morrison’s air chills all of the chickens to a refrigerated temperature. If you pre-order a chicken, you have the option of picking up a fresh never frozen chicken within 3 days of the processing date. For all other chickens, they are put into storage into one of our many freezers.