On our quest to provide ourselves and our community with nourishing foods, we have learned about the vital role that pastured animals play in our diet and on our mental health. Pastured animals live a much better existence out in the fresh air and sunshine. This helps clear our conscious of the horrible atrocities that CAFOs(Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) subject their chickens to. Our chickens on pasture get to express their biological desires, like scratching in the dirt, picking for bugs, worms and grass. All of this leads to a more nutritious chicken that has a better Omega 6 : 3 ratio and higher levels of vitamins & minerals (especially A, D & E).
Here are a few reasons why our pasture-raised chicken is better than the standard industry (grocery store) chicken:
1. Better for the bird.
Standard industry chickens are typically crammed into and raised in concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) buildings, where they are given 1/2 foot per bird and never see the light of day. Not only does this result in a life full of stress and torture, but it also leads to the quick spread of disease due to over-crowding and unsanitary conditions, not to mention vitamin D and other deficiencies due to lack of or no sunlight exposure and an improper diet (standard chickens are typically fed GMO corn and soy, far from their true omnivore dietary needs). Because disease in CAFO's is so prominent, antibiotics are also typically included in standard industry chicken feed. Our chickens are kept in portable electric fencing (to protect them from predators), where they are free to roam wherever they'd like and forage on grass, seeds, bugs and grubs. Their diet is supplemented with local, organic, non-GMO, grains (Ernst), which they can eat free-choice. We see each of our birds multiple times a day, so we know that they are happy and healthy.
All of the above trickles down into affecting your health as well. Not only do our birds contain ZERO antibiotics, but pasture-raised poultry is higher in vitamins and good fats like omega-3's. It may also surprise you that birds from a small farm are far less likely to infect you with food-borne illnesses.
The waste from CAFO's not only affects streams and other water supplies, but the large amount of fecal particulates they produce can also affect air supply (not to mention the horrible smell). Buying sustainably raised chicken from your local farmer can also cut down on the use of fossil fuels because you are buying a chicken from 15 miles away rather than purchasing one from the grocery store that may have been shipped hundreds, if not thousands of miles!
4. Better tasting.
Pastured and sustainably raised chicken is real food, folks! And real food tastes REAL good.
Our chickens have access to pasture all day (they are secured in a coup at night so they can roost and stay safe). We supplement their diet with free-choice, non-GMO, local grain from Ernst grain in Clear Spring Maryland. We chose to forgo "certified organic" grain for several reasons. For one, we wanted to support a young farmer (Joshua Ernst is in his mid 20's), they are the future of our food, lets support them when we can. He also uses no-til practices, which is not the case with organic grain farming. No-til keeps the soil life health and prevents soil erosion and runoff that would end up in the Chesapeake Bay. We also wanted to keep our grain as local as possible to help the local economy as well as reduce fossil fuel usage. There is just simply not an organic grain farm/mill nearby, most import materials from across the country and other countries. We chose to use non-GMO grain because of the recent studies emerging of the possible health issues associated with Genetically Modified Organisms in our diet. This topic is a highly debatable one and we deserves a blog post all on its own. Ultimately, we prefer to error on the side of caution and feel that nature has the best model to follow.
Enough talk, where can I get these delicious birds?
Please visit our Find Our Food page to see a list of Farmers Markets and restaurants our chicken is at.
We really encourage you to continue reading on the benefits of pasture based chicken and other livestock. Here are some resources below, including the APPPA study mentioned above.