Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Pastured Poultry is for the Birds

For years we raised pastured poultry. What's that you ask? It's the production of meat chickens in an open pasture. The chickens are placed in a movable cage that has wheels and each day they are moved to a fresh section of pasture. This has several benefits. It's a cleaner environment, so you do not have to administer antibiotics to keep them alive as they do in commercial chicken houses. They get exercise because they are not jammed into cages and this burns off excess fat and they are probably happier. They are also leaner because 30% of their diet is grass. So you have a healthier chicken all around. These birds are ready for eating after just 8 weeks. There are a few breeds you can raise but the Kosher King ended up being our bird of choice.

We would receive 50 day old chicks. They would initially be raised in a brooder (the photo above was taken before we constructed the brooder and that's a baby swimming pool) that we constructed. A big pain in the neck was keeping the temperature constant. A room temperature sensor would have come in handy as I was always running out too see if the temperature was ok. This is critical for young chicks. This sensor will email me if there is a drastic change in the temperature. After about 3 weeks or when the chicks are fully feathered, if the weather looks suitable, we put them out in the cage.

Pictured below is our home made plucker and scalder. We use these for processing. It takes all morning to put about 50 chickens into 2 gallon ziplock bags and then into the freezer they go. It's some delicious tasting chicken let me tell you!