So it turns out: When you raise meat well (encouraging the bird to be a bird), the meat is super nutritious and tastes so much better
At CloverCroft Farm, our chickens are brooded outside and pastured all their lives. Through the spring and summer and fall they enjoy new turf every day, they run amok in open air enclosures that are secure from predators. Scratching about, eating bugs and clover: diversifying their diet better than a simple grain ration alone ever could, creating chickens free to act like chickens, nutrient rich and healthy. Their movement through the farm contributes fertility to the next years' vegetables crops, as the birds clean up any bugs and weeds left over from the vegetables of year before.
Whole Birds: They finish at an average of 5-6 lbs, enough for a great roasting bird with some leftovers as well.
In Pieces: Boneless skinless breasts, thighs, drumsticks, wings, or ground chicken.
Making Stock? Spent Hens or chicken carcasses are the way to go.
Two ways to enjoy:
Organic or Non-GMO:
Even though these birds are out on pasture, they need grains. There are not enough nutrients in grass for them to properly grow (just like we couldn't survive on a diet of lettuce).
As a farmer I have three choices for feed (a) conventional, (b) non-genetically modified and (c) organic. Conventional means a mixture of genetically modified grains that have been grown using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Non-GM means that all of the grains in the feed are not genetically modified but that they are still grown using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Certified organic means that the farmer and the feed mill have been inspected and that the non-GM grains are free from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Non-GM feed costs about 50% more than conventional.
Certified organic feed costs 2.5x more expensive than conventional.
This year we are trying-out raising both an Organic Flock and a Non-GMO Flock. The price difference is clear in the end product.
You get to choose: organic or non-gmo fed. If a fully organic product is what you're seeking, we have the best version of it that you can find anywhere in Canada. If the way the animal is raised is more important than the grain-ration it receives, and you're looking to save money, then you would be fine with a non-gmo fed bird: raising meat with respect for the life of the animal is the only way we do things here.
Regardless of their grain ration, our birds live on lush pasture the entire lives. They soak up the sun, they eat clover and bugs and run amok. This works to diversify their diet from just grains, and results in a finish product much higher in nutrients than any grocery-store chicken can lay claim to.
Save when you eat CloverCroft Chicken all year long!
When you order 10 or more birds, save 5%!
There comes a time when a laying hen is about 1.5 years old, when her egg productivity naturally decreases, the shell becomes thinner, the albumen more watery. It begins to cost more to feed a large group of these hens than we can reasonably recoup in selling their eggs, and the hens are then processed as stewing meat. At this point a new group of laying hens takes over.
Here at the farm, one of our highest priorities is to provide our livestock the best quality of life we can. Our cultural practices are designed around encouraging our livestock to live similarly to how they would in a natural state, but also in a way that they are protected from predation and the elements, and productive for the farm. While it's difficult to say goodbye to these animals, we're grateful for the way they nourish our lives and the important role they play in the having a healthy farm, and we show our appreciation in respecting them as much as possible throughout their lives.
Stewing Hens are available frozen while supplies last. They are sold for $12 each, which helps offset the cost of rearing pullets prior to them starting to lay.
A stewing hen makes for some of the best broth and gravy you'll ever taste. They yield a modest two cups of meat, and lots of broth. Your soups and stews have never tasted so vibrate. This is an excellent way to finally appreciate your laying hens.