The Birds ...
All poultry on our farm, from the ducks and geese to the meat chickens and layer hens, are raised as naturally and humanely as possible. All meat chickens are day ranged on pasture and locked up at night to protect them from predators. The layer hens have a more permanent home, but are allowed to range as far as they want and then return home at night to be locked up. Ducks and geese, likewise, are allowed to roam free all day then they return to be locked up at night.
We use no medications or growth stimulants in our feed to enhance feed conversion. Most of our grains are grown here on the farm and then with the help of a poultry nutritionist, a balanced feed ration is formulated to supplement whatever the chickens can scratch up in the pasture. We use antibiotics only as a last resort and then band that bird for later identification.
We process small batches of birds here on the farm for 'on farm' sales and take larger batches of birds to an approved facility for processing for commercial sales. The birds are aged in bags to retain moisture on ice for 2 - 3 days to be sold fresh, then they are vacuum sealed and frozen to be sold later. The birds are bled out completely and cleanly eviscerated so you won't have to worry about finding anything that doesn't belong there!
Meat Production Birds
We raise 2 types of meat birds for use as fryers, broilers, roasters and capons. We use a scale of 0 - 12, with 0 being bland taste/soft texture, and 12 being gamey taste/grainy texture to help you know what you are getting. Typically, grocery store chicken falls in the category of 0 - 2.
Our preferred bird is a standard slow growing Label Rouge type bird that will finish out in about 9 - 10 weeks for about 4 - 5 pounds of meat. We can let these birds grow longer to reach approximately 8 - 10 pounds for a nice roaster size without any problems. We especially like the slow growing birds as they are easy keepers, graze quite aggressively and as a result have a firm texture, a great chicken flavor and good breast size. On the above scale, this bird is an 8.
The other bird we raise is a heavy breasted Cornish Rock hybrid. This bird has been bred to finish out in approximately 6 weeks for about 4 – 6 pounds of meat. Unfortunately, the problem with these hybrids is that since they were developed to put the meat on fast, their bone and circulatory systems have a difficult time keeping up, so a small percentage suffer leg and heart problems sometimes resulting in an early death. We can mostly avoid this problem by day ranging them on pasture and limiting their supplemental feed which forces them to be more active in their search for food. You will find a vast difference in taste and texture from this same bird you purchase in the grocery store and we rate them around 5-6 on the scale.
Both the standard and the hybrid chickens make good capons, but there again, the standard bird takes longer to finish, has good chicken flavor, a standard breast size and no growing problems while the hybrid finishes quicker, has more meat, less flavor and more growing problems. Either bird you choose will still be a far cry from grocery store capon. Both these birds will weigh in at approximately 12-15 pounds and you will love the juicy, succulent meat and the wonderful gravy they make.
We offer Coturnix quail. These birds will start laying eggs at about 6 - 7 weeks old and can be consumed at 11 - 12 weeks old. They will only weigh approximately 3 ounces when dressed so more than one or two will be needed for a meal. We are going to 'try' to pasture them in secure pens, but since they are a true game bird, we might loose a few in our experiment.
Egg Production Birds
We offer eggs from day ranging geese, ducks and chickens. Usually duck and geese eggs are only available in the spring months, but chicken eggs are available all year around. While we have mostly production hybrid layer hens, we also have several standard/heritage layers also. We have an assortment of ducks including Mallards, Indian Runners, Khaki Campbells and Welsh Harlequin. Our geese breeds are White and Brown Chinese and American Buff.
Quail eggs are available also. The eggs weigh about 1/3 ounce each so several will be needed for a meal. These eggs may be prepared the same way chicken eggs are - hard boiled, scrambled, fried or pickled. Since these eggs are quite pretty, they could also be blown and used to create jewelry and/or filled with chocolate for gift giving.
Goose and duck eggs are excellent for baked goods such as breads, cakes and cookies; if you have never baked with them, you will definitely notice the difference. Goose and duck egg whites don't tend to whip as well as chicken eggs so they are not a good choice for meringues and angel food cakes. They are excellent eating in any other way one would use chicken eggs.
We also have in limited quantity very tiny eggs, called pullet eggs, that come from young hens that are first starting to lay. These are great for young children that can't eat a whole large egg and also good for blowing and filling with chocolate.