What is Pasture Raised Chicken at Grateful Graze?
Updated: Jul 3, 2019
A lot of talk has been going around about the label "organic". Everyone sees the term and automatically thinks that item is the best and healthiest item available. Sure, the guidelines for this label are better than conventional. But what if there's something more? Something better? Not only for the animal's health, but human health and environmental health?
Ever heard of the term Pasture Raised?
No, not pasteurized, pasture raised.
In simple terms, it means the animal, whether it be a chicken, pig, cow, lamb, etc. is living it's life out on pasture. It's allowed to forage through the tall lush grass and consume the vital nutrients that it's body needs to thrive.
When the animal is allowed to live in an environment that it was designed to live in, it's naturally much healthier. Allowing them to breathe the fresh air, eat the little bugs, and rest in the warm sun.
That's what Regenerative Farming is all about. The main goal is to allow our animals and nature to work together - not against each other.
One way we are implementing these practices on our farm is by adding pasture raised chickens. We have two different groups of chickens.
One group we call the "Laying Hens". These chickens are all females and once they are old enough (about 6 months old) they will produce eggs!
Not just any eggs that you can buy at the grocery store for a couple bucks. These eggs will be beyond organic, beyond cage free or free range. They will be pasture raised.
What does that mean for a chicken?
- Moved to fresh grass every day --> they don't have to sit in their poop and mud
- Eat a variety of grasses and bugs which means:
50% more vitamin A (immune support)
1/3 of the cholesterol
1/4 of the saturated fat
2x the amount of omega 3 fatty acids
7x the amount of beta carotene
- Live the life they were designed to live --> happy chicken = healthy chicken
Something to remember, chickens HAVE to eat some grain and grit to help digest their food. If they didn't eat those things, the grass would clump up and not break down. We supplement them with organic grain. Keep in mind this is a supplement, not their main source for food.
Our second group of chickens are called our "Meat Chickens". These are a mixture of male and female birds that we harvest at 11 weeks old.
Chicken farmers commonly raise a breed called Cornish Cross. This breed is typically white and grows very quickly to be harvested around 8-9 weeks. They eventually get so big that they can't walk which means they sit and eat grain all day and don't forage for other food like grass and bugs.
Since the breed we raise have been designed to forage, they take a little longer to reach full size. This also means the meat will be more tender and juicier!
You'll notice these guys are in a hoop house with open sides for air flow and sunlight. It's also portable and can easily be moved. We move this hoop house every day so the chickens can have access to the grass beneath their feet.
Some of you may ask, "Why aren't they out free ranging?"
We use the hoop house for many reasons:
1. Since these chickens will be harvested when they are young, they won't have the instincts to bond to a home like the laying hens do. If we were to let them free range, they would run off and we wouldn't have any meat to harvest.
2. It allows us to move them every day efficiently and safely.
3. Provides protection from the elements (extreme heat, rain, etc.)
4. Predator protection. Yes, we have Sam to protect against other animals like coyotes, opossums, raccoons, etc., but he is still learning.
We enjoy and look forward to providing not only our families, but your families, too with healthy, delicious, and wholesome food that was raised in a way that we feel proud to share with you.