Frequently Asked Questions: Chickens
What Breed Chicken Do You Raise?
We raise Freedom Rangers, an American bred chicken whose genetic stock is derived from the poulet rouge chickens developed in France.
How is that different than the chicken I usually get at the store?
The vast majority of the broiler industry (that's shop talk for meat chickens) is comprised of the cornish cross, a hybrid that was developed to grow quickly to great size in 8 weeks or less in a factory farm setting (ie never leaving their cavernous metal barns). While they have many advantages for the factory farm, these often come at great detriment to the bird. They have been bred to grow so fast that they are prone to grotesque leg problems and cannot tolerate temperature fluctuations or much activity. Freedom Rangers take 10 to 11 weeks to reach full size and all the while are well suited for their life on pasture. Bred for flavor and pasture heartiness, they present with varied and colorful red plumage and as such some degree of darker pigmentation may occasionally present in the fatty layers of the skin. They are extremely hearty and love to do all the things we think of chickens as doing. In turn they produce a meat that is exceptionally flavorful, many say it is the tastiest chicken they have ever eaten.
What do you feed your chickens?
Our birds are fed a locally milled feed that contains NO soy, corn or GMOs. The primary ingredients are peas and wheat that are sourced from farms in the Pacific Northwest. Being free-range on pasture, our chickens supplement this diet with pasture grasses, broadleaf plants and insects that they forage on their own.
Are your birds organic?
No, and here's why: While we are big fans of organic food for people, when it comes to animal feed it gets a little more complicated. Most organic chicken feed contains corn and soy imported from China and India. While some may be authentic, we worry about the lack of verification. Since we believe strongly in the value of supporting local farmers we chose to use a feed that is comprised of local ingredients rather than from overseas. Furthermore, the organic standards do not have any mention of how animals are to be treated, and this is something with which we take great care. There is usually much more to the story than some of the brands selling “organic, free range”chicken would like you to know.
How are your chickens raised?
Free-range, on pasture and Animal Welfare Approved. We believe that healthy meat comes from healthy chickens and that healthy chickens can't be raised indoors. Unfortunately, there are no rules for what “free range” means on a package label, and many companies take advantage of that. Often if you dig a little deeper you will find that those “free range”chickens are “free ranging” within a huge metal building. We provide our birds with a life they were meant to have: lounging, running, pecking, and stretching their wings in lush pasture. We have decided to go beyond even the pasture pen method and provide our chickens with pasture "breezeway" houses. Our birds have access to shelter with roosts for perching, but they are free to come and go as they choose. Our birds are kept safe from predators under the watchful eye of our livestock guardian dog, a Maremma named Shasta. We chose to get our broiler chickens certified Animal Welfare Approved because these high standards have come to be the most highly regarded food label when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming, and sustainability.