Passionate organic farmers have been breeding pasture-raised chickens for generations. This sustainable and environment-friendly alternative is a healthier and more humane way to treat chickens. Pastured chickens have the beautiful freedom of being raised outdoors as they have access to natural food supplies, warm sunlight, and fresh air.
Animal activists would insist that this is a better way of treating poultry because commercially farmed chickens are often the subject of animal abuse from being cooped in restrictive and tight spaces, being deprived of food, water, and sunlight, and being subjected to unsanitary conditions.
On the other hand, pastured chickens can freely roam around the grassy fields. Their diet of grass, insects, bugs, worms, and other natural food sources gives them more than an adequate amount of nutrients and minerals.
Pastured Chicken Trivia
- Free-range chickens eat everything they can peck, resulting in tastier and more nutritious eggs.
- Farmers don’t have to inject growth hormones in their free-range chicken as growth hormones function similarly to insulin and would be broken down by the digestive system.
- Years of animal welfare have halted the production of genetically modified chickens which were often accused of causing cancers and tumors in the human body.
- Yorkshire Farmhouse, a British poultry farmed owned by the Potter family, is the largest free-range egg produces in the UK. It has over 200,000 hens and can crack approximately 130,000 eggs per hour.
Pastured Chicken Buying Guide
Pastured chickens have been a common choice for sustainability-conscious consumers because it is a much more ecologically moral farming method than traditional farming. Pastured chickens are raised both for their meat and eggs which are found to be more nutritious versus the commercially farmed counterparts.
Meat birds or broilers are bred for their meat. Cornish, New Hampshire, and Plymouth Rock are the most common broiler breeds.
Cornish Chickens – these muscular chickens have compact bodies which produce white meat and fine texture.
New Hampshire Chickens – New Hampshires are a new chicken breed known for their rapid growth and early maturity. It produces a plump carcass that is perfect for roasting and broiling.
Plymouth Rock Chickens – This breed is raised both for its meat and brown eggs. It makes an excellent farm and pasture chicken due to its docile and tame characteristics, although they can be brooding and aggressive at times.
Dual Purpose chicken breeds are raised for both meat and eggs. Some breeds include the Black Australorp, Rhode Island Red, and Orpington,
Black Australorp – They are the best breed for meat and egg production. As a utility breed, they can lay up to 300 eggs a year.
Rhode Island Red – Rhode Island is the official bird of the Rhode Island state and can lay at least 150-250 eggs a year. However, breeders claim that some hens can lay up to 250-300 eggs depending on their conditions.
Orpington – Orpington chickens are renowned dual-purpose chickens. They are active whether they’re in a controlled or free-range environment. They produce great-tasting meat and brown eggs.
Pastured Chicken Production & Farming in Texas
Raising pastured chicken is a completely holistic and healthy process. Chickens are encouraged to roam freely where they can develop natural chicken behavior such as foraging, scratching, running, and interacting with their environment.
Newly hatched chickens are fragile and should be housed in the brooding nursery. Wood shavings on the flooring retain moisture and encourage the composting process. No chemicals should be used in the composting and breeding areas.
Three-week-old chicks are then transferred to mobile range houses. It maintains the welfare of the chicks as they are often transferred at night to lessen their stress. It’s also equipped with a non-lethal electrical fence to ward off predators.
Raising pastured chickens has been an ecologically sustainable agricultural method for farmers. It starts with a healthy natural environment that is pesticide and chemical-free as any chemicals could interfere in the bird’s overall health which could affect both meat and egg production.
It’s best to raise pastured chickens around April to September when the grass is at its freshest and most nutritious. Thus, this method benefits the land instead of polluting it. At the end of the day, sustainable farming is all about maintaining soil health, reducing weeds and parasites, and preserving the ecological balance of the environment.
Enjoying Pastured Chickens
Eating chicken can have great effects on the body as it is packed with proteins that can give you a stronger, firmer, and more massive built. The proteins in the chicken also make you feel full and can curb your cravings. Chicken is also beneficial for the cardiovascular system as it controls the body’s homocysteine amino acid levels.
When you feel down or tired, grab a chicken leg or breast and you will see that chicken is a mood booster. Chicken meat increases the body’s serotonin levels, eliminating mood and stress, and leads to a peaceful sleep.
As a type of poultry, chicken should be handled carefully to prevent salmonella infection among consumers. Always wash hands before handling the raw chicken. Anything that goes in contact with the raw meat such as knives, plates, utensils, and the chopping board should be thoroughly washed and sterilized to avoid becoming breeding grounds for bacteria.
Raw chicken should be placed in a plastic bag and an airtight container to avoid contamination from the other meats and must be consumed in 2-3 days. Ground chicken must be consumed in one day. Meanwhile, chicken leftovers must be refrigerated and must not be kept at room temperature for a long time.
Chicken should be thoroughly cooked to prevent foodborne infections. Use a cooking thermometer to check the doneness of different areas. The whole thigh area should be at 175°F – 180°F, the whole-breast area should be at 170°F – 175°F, dark chicken meat should be at 180°F and the stuffing should be at 165°F.
Chicken is the first choice for white meats as it the main component for a high-protein, low-fat diet.
Omega 3: The natural grass that pastured chickens consumed gets converted into Omega 3 which benefits the consumers by lowering blood pressure and maintaining a healthy circulatory system.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is essential to maintain the immune system and is important in cell repair as well as the healthy appearance of the body’s skin, hair, and nails.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D maintains the body’s cells, protects the immune system, and aids calcium to strengthen and increase the density of bones.
Phosphorus: Phosphorus helps repair bones and teeth. Phosphorus is essential in regulating muscle function, nerve responses, muscle contractions, and regulated heartbeats.
Vitamin A: Pastured chicken is good for eye health as it is rich in Vitamin A, along with other eye vitamins such as alpha and beta-carotene, retinol, and lycopene.