Chicken is the most consumed meat the United States. And yet, so many people don't realize where it comes from, or what goes into raising it. For a long time now, our family has been interested in adding pastured chicken to our product line-up. Not to mention we've had numerous customers begging for it! Pastured chicken is hard to find, but we're now proud to raise and offer it! I've been surprised by the number of people who have actually never heard of a pasture-raised chicken or thought there may be a difference between chicken products. This post is to help set that record straight because until you have tasted a pastured-raised chicken, you don't know what you're missing!!!
To start off, the vast majority of chicken you buy at the store has come from a concentrated animal feeding operation (otherwise known as a CAFO). These operations house large numbers of birds in very large, confined quarters. Because this is not a natural environment for chickens, it becomes very easy for disease to spread. For this reason, most CAFO chicken operations add antibiotics to the feed on a daily basis. This helps keeps disease at bay, but it also leads to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which leads to higher risks of food-borne illness, particularly outbreaks of salmonella.
While I'm glad that I'm starting to see an increase in antibiotic-free chicken being offered in stores (a bi-product of increased consumer awareness and demand), there are still a host of problems with the way the chicken industry operates--and the end product that most chicken consumers receive. This is why we are so happy to provide customers with an alternative!
Here are some cool facts about pasture-raised chicken:
Contains more vitamin A: Pasture-raised chicken contain 50% more vitamin A than conventionally-raised chickens!
Higher in Omega-3 Fats: A 2008 study published in the journal Poultry Science, reported that pasture-raised chicken has significantly higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids due to their ability to eat fresh forage!
Lower Fat, Higher Protein: Two dozen recent studies on macronutrient balance have shown that various cuts from pasture-raised chickens are actually lower in overall fat content, but higher in protein! This is huge!
Environmentally Friendly: Pasture-raised chickens are great for the environment and for the soil! Infrastructure needs are low. Whereas CAFO chicken operations produce a lot of toxic byproducts, which can effect the local ecosystems.
To give you a little insight as to how our pastured chickens are raised, here you go!
Our broilers are housed in pens known as "chicken tractors". They are an 8' x 12' box that allow the chickens to have both sunlight and shade. Each day, the tractors are pulled ahead to a fresh new patch of pasture. The chickens eat the grass, along with all of the bugs and other food they find in the pasture! Water and feeding containers are kept inside the tractor as well. The chickens are supplemented with a barley mixture.