Pastured Poultry: Slow-Growing Just Tastes Better
What makes the most delicious chicken? Like the rest of our livestock, we think that taste is a reflection of how they are raised, ethically and with copious amounts of love!
Raising meat birds has been a newer venture for our farm. We gave them a try for the first time in 2020, but a lot of thought & research went into choosing the breed & method beforehand. It continues to be quite a learning process, but we were very proud of our last batch of birds in 2021.
We decided to try a heritage breed chicken called Mistral Gris for our meat birds. The hatchery is out of B.C. and has a complex genetic history that we are happy to support. After almost being lost, we hope this breed continues far into the future. They are considered a slow-growing bird, taking about 12-14 weeks to reach butcher weight. That might not seem very long, but for perspective, the typical commercial white broiler chicken you see on a lot of farms, only takes 4-6 weeks to get up to weight.
A slow-growing chicken better reflects our principals of ethical farming, giving the chickens more time to enjoy their life on pasture & realize their full "chicken-ness". Our livestock aren't just product that we are trying to turn over quickly. We benefit from their presence on the farm; their poop and grazing helping to improve our pasture health.
We also believe that there is impact on farmer mental health too. Our regenerative farming work, which includes raising meat birds on pasture, involves deeper connection to the ecosystem as a whole, concern for what is right over what is easily profitable, and increased satisfaction in our work. We see our livestock healthy, happy and that impacts our own health & happiness.
We often get asked if our meat birds eat a specialty organic or soy-free feed. The answer is simply, no. We buy a bulk high-protein feed for all our flocks (laying hens, ducks, & meat birds). This is a decision we have had to make in order to make our poultry affordable. The compromise is that, their feed is only part of their diet. The Mistral Gris breed are excellent grazing birds, so their time on pasture is spent eating alfalfa & other pasture grasses, bugs, and even mice if they can catch them.
We think that you'll be able to taste the love and care that these birds get from each of us while they are on our farm!