Pastured Poultry

We raise Cornish Cross and Red Rangers as our meat birds.  Cornish Cross has been bred to produce chickens with broad breasts, large thighs, white plumage, and yellow skin.  Their rapid growth and feed efficiency makes them a good fit for our farm.  They are more weather sensitive and therefore are raised during our most temperate weather in the spring and fall.  The Red Rangers are a bit slower growing, they spend an extra 4 weeks on the pasture before processing.  They have a longer more narrow breast with long drumsticks and thighs for more delicious dark meat.  They are a hardier bird and can thrive better in Florida's unpredictable weather.

The chicks spend the first weeks of their lives in a brooder where they are kept warm, are given free access to a healthy ration, while being introduced to clover and other grasses which we add to the brooder.  The first day or two, newspaper is placed on top of the bedding to keep them from eating the wood chips until they have adjusted to their new home.  

                                                         

Getting ready to put the                                             First Day in the Brooder                                    What a difference a week makes!
new arrivals in the brooder.                                                                                                                   These chicks are one week apart in age.

At three weeks they are moved onto pasture and spend the next 5 - 10 weeks (depending on breed) in a portable “chicken tractor” that keeps them safe from predators while providing them with clean, fresh pasture daily.  The tractors are moved to a new patch of grass daily.  The chickens are always anxious to get to the new grass, but also have a healthy food ration available at all times to help them put on weight quickly. We use a conventional feed that we purchase from our local farmer's cooperative.   They scratch in the grass, spread manure around, and eat a variety of bugs; all in a portable shelter that provides them with protection from the elements and predators.  Why is grass so important?  Grass provides them with chlorophyll, the material in plants that makes photosynthesis happen.  Chlorophyll is a natural detoxifier.  Green material is also high in vitamins and minerals adding to the bird’s overall health and meat quality.                  

  
                                                          
This is the first chicken tractor that we built.                                               This is the second chicken tractor that we built.
The tarp on top is for protecting the birds from                                            We used a hoop style on this one that we think
the occasional deluge of rain.                                                                         will work better in warmer months.

Not only does the pasture help the birds, but the birds help the pasture by adding nitrogen from their manure. 

At approximately 8 weeks (12 for the Red Rangers) the chickens are ready to process.  We process them on farm, under the inspection of the most arduous of inspectors…our customers.  Customers, and any other interested party, are welcome to watch (and even help) on processing day.  We process in an open air setting on surfaces that have been thoroughly sanitized.  We treat every bird as though we would be eating it ourselves because in many cases, that will be true.  Our farm operates under a Limited Poultry and Egg Permit through the Florida Department of Agriculture that allows us to process and sell them off farm and through farmer's markets directly to our consumer.  The birds are sold frozen and are labeled for safe handling.  

If you would like to visit our farm, please contact us.  We would love to have you meet the farmer, see the farm, ask questions, and become connected with where your food comes from.  You will find no waste ponds, no confinement houses, just animals that are given plenty of sunshine, grass, and daily attention.  Buying local from a farmer you know and trust gives you the best available meat product for your family.  

Right now, we are only offering whole birds.  Later on, we may be able to provide cut up birds, or other packaging options.  My mom had to learn to cook using whole birds again.  She tells me that she feels very in tune with her grandmother every time she pulls a chicken from the freezer and has loved the learning process.  The cost is $4.00 per pound with an average weight of 3.5 to 5 pounds when purchased on the farm.

We also have laying hens that are moved about the pasture on a daily basis.  They provide us and our customers with delicious fresh pastured eggs.  The cost of the eggs is $4.00 per dozen when purchased on the farm.