We raise our quota limit of chickens each year (300). We raise them in the same fashion as Joel Salatin (the famous chicken farmer featured in Michael Pollan’s books and in Food Inc.). They are started in the loft of our barn for 2 to 3 weeks, before they are put onto pasture depending upon the weather. They are moved in moveable cages once per day and twice near the end.
Food aside, the most important thing we give them is sunlight and fresh grass, two things that are missing in conventional and even certified organic chicken. For this reason, pastured chicken is the most sought after meat today.
Don’t be duped by the term “free range” or “free roam” – 50 000 birds in one shed with no windows and fluorescent lights is no pretty sight or smell. It’s a scam to play on your empathy for animals. Good food, sunlight, clean water and grass are what make a good chicken. Raising pastured meat birds requires a lot more work, thus the price, taste, and nutritional difference.
Almost all diseases are diet related. We keep hearing the term “death by grocery store”, and it does seem to be hard to know what to buy. Until food labeling in Canada becomes trustworthy, your best option for nutritious, safe food is to get to know some farmers!