We are proud of the conditions that our livestock live in. We take great care to ensure that our animals’ lives are respected and cared for while on our farm. We source our day-old poultry from a hatchery in Pennsylvania and our feed comes from a small family run feed mill in northern Vermont. At the end of our chickens' lives, we process 100% of the poultry ourselves. It’s important for us to know where our birds are hatched, where their food is from and how they are processed. We think it’s important for our customers to know, too. We breed our own sheep and raise only our own lambs, which are raised entirely on our pasture and hay that we harvest. We produce premium quality, Certified Organic meat and eggs.
We raise all our laying hens up from day-old chicks. They eat only organic feed for their entire lives. From April to November our laying hens live entirely on pasture in a mobile coop that is moved every 3-10 days depending on the time of year and condition of the pasture. They spend much of their day in an endless search for the next blade of grass, clover petal or one of the many bugs they prey on. Despite the abundance of plants and bugs that they have access to from dawn till dusk, the great majority of their diet is still comprised of the manufactured feed that we provide them. We are proud to use feed from Morrison’s in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The feed is Certified Organic and we buy it fresh each month to ensure it provides its highest nutrition. From late fall to early spring our laying hens live in an unheated greenhouse. Bedding is added weekly and kelp meal is provided free choice as a feed supplement.
The nutritional content of an egg is a direct representation of the diet of the chicken that produces it. Even the color of the yolk is correlated to their diet: the rich dark orange associated with chickens on pasture is a result of the green pigment in the grass. Chickens who have no access to green grass are often fed orange marigold petals(!) or alfalfa to make their yolks darker—we don’t do that! Our yolks are darkest when the chickens have access to green grass, and lightest throughout the winter when they don’t. However, with free choice Maine kelp meal available to them throughout the winter, as well as some leftover pumpkins we are pleased with the darkness of their yolks!
Our broilers are available fresh every other week from July through September and are always available frozen starting in July. They are $6.50/lb and typically range from 4-6 lbs a bird. Chickens are processed on Tuesdays and should be cooked or frozen by the following Monday night. We do have a CSA option available: CSA members will receive a fresh, whole chicken every 2 weeks from July through September, 7 times. Chicken CSA members end up paying about $6/lb for their chickens and can choose either Wednesdays from 2-7 or Saturdays from 10-7 for their pickup time. One of our whole chickens is enough to provide a ravenous family of 4 with 1 meal, or if there's plenty of veggies on your plate (there should be), we find you can get 8 servings of chicken from 1 whole bird. Don't forget to save your chicken carcass to make a gallon or two of nutrient-dense broth! We enjoy using the broth to make our rice with instead of water, but it's also good straight up, hot in a mug on a cold day. We appreciate our CSA customers, they help pay for our feed and chicks!
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Bulk Chicken Orders
Do you have room in your freezer to stock up? Many customers prefer to pick up multiple fresh chickens at once. Some folks prefer to "break down" (cut into parts) multiple chickens and freeze packages of different parts (legs, wings, boneless breasts, etc) for future meal planning. If you are tight on freezer space, you can seriously decrease the amount of space needed to store your future chicken meals by breaking down the chickens first. Hats off to those customers who part up their chickens, make broth with the carcasses and necks immediately, then use a pressure canner so that they can store their broth unfrozen! Bulk chicken orders are reserved with a $15 per chicken deposit. 5 chickens is the minimum order and 20 is the maximum. For any one pickup, you must pick up your order during one of our regularly scheduled fresh-chicken CSA pickup days (Wednesdays 2-7 or Saturdays 10-7). Prices per pound for bulk orders are as follows: 5-9: $6.50/lb, 10-14: $6.25lb, 15-20 chickens: $6.00/lb. Space is extremely limited for our bulk chicken orders, only 20 are available each harvest. If you are interested in some bulk chickens, you may contact "Chicken Jimi" at email@example.com
Available days for bulk chicken order pickups in 2020: 7/8, 7/11, 7/22, 7/25, 8/5, 8/8, 8/19, 8/22, 9/2, 9/5, 9/16, 9/19, 9/30, 10/3
**Click here to view the dates still available and to sign up**
We raise our broilers in mobile “chicken tractors” that we move daily. We get them as day-old chicks, and after 2 weeks in a heated brooder, the chickens are big enough to go outside into the tractors. They're still very small at this age, but we only raise chickens for meat from May to September when the weather is warm enough to raise chickens on pasture. Chickens are fed only Certified Organic feed from Morrison’s in Vermont. Raising broilers on pasture has several benefits:
1. Chicken Health: Fresh air, sunshine and green grass alleviate many of the health problems that these fast growing chickens face when raised in confinement.
2. Soil Health: Whether it’s vegetables, fruit or livestock, if you’re an Organic farmer your focus is on the soil. The broiler chickens are the best natural fertilizers of the soil, period! Every year gardeners and farmers spend millions of dollars buying chicken fertilizer to amend soil. Our chickens apply enough manure each day to give our pastures a healthy amount of nutrients, for free, we don’t have to touch it once! Waste = Food.
3. Environmental Health: When manure accumulates irresponsibly, it starts to smell, rot and will eventually have runoff. Gross. With our daily moves, there’s never too much manure in any one place. We don’t have to smell it and we can feel good knowing that we’re not creating water pollution.
4. Low energy use: Chickens in confinement use A LOT of energy. Heating, ventilation, lighting, constructing huge barns, cleaning out the manure with tractors are all things we don’t have to do since we raise chickens seasonally on pasture.
5. Lower cost: When the grass is rich and bugs abound, the chickens can eat up to 25% less grain than they would in confinement. Our single biggest cost is Organic grain, so this is huge!
6. Nutrient Dense meat: "Tastes like chicken" really means "tastes like nothing" in our factory farmed chicken eating society. Our chicken TASTES like CHICKEN! Your taste buds and nose know it too! You are what you eat: so start eating protein from healthy, active chickens — it's full of vitamins and minerals!
We are also a Certified Organic poultry processor. The biggest reason that we process our birds ourselves is control. We know exactly what is going on with our chickens and our finished product. When you take one of our chickens home, it’s leaving the farm for the first time since it arrived on its 1st day of life. If knowing where your food comes from is important, then this is your chicken.
We are not USDA inspected, and for this reason we can only sell whole chickens. Cooking a whole chicken is simple whether it's grilled, smoked, simmered or roasted. Parting out a whole chicken into legs, wings and breasts — whether it's raw or cooked —takes only minutes once you've got the hang of it. With the remaining bones and neck, you’ve got all you need to make a delicious broth. If you’re new to cooking whole chickens you’re sure to be surprised by the amount of meat and broth one chicken will yield: whole chickens are an incredible value.
2020 Processing Schedule (all Tuesdays): 7/7, 7/21, 8/4, 8/18, 9/1, 9/15, 9/29
We raise a small number of Certified Organic Broad Breasted White Turkeys for Thanksgiving. We raise them in an almost identical fashion to our broiler chickens. The one significant difference is that after several weeks in the fully enclosed tractors they are then moved to open, mobile coops that are surrounded by electric fencing: truly free range while the electric fencing protects them from ground predators.
Our chicken, veggie of flower CSA members get first dibs on reserving a turkey!
Our flock of sheep are in their 5th year. We have been breeding and culling aggressively in order to have ewes that lamb without assistance on pasture, give their lambs plenty of nutritious milk and can thrive entirely on pasture, with no bought-in grain or feed. The single biggest hurdle in raising sheep Organically is not being able to use chemical dewormers. A word on worms and sheep:
All Sheep have worms. Generally speaking, in nature, worms exist in small numbers in many animals. In wild ruminants (sheep, goats, cows, bison, buffalo, moose, deer, elk, etc...), the parasitic worms' life cycle relies on the worm egg being passed out of the back end of the animal, hatching into a larvae and being eaten to then mature and start the cycle over again. In the wild, parasitic worm populations are kept in check by herds of animals constantly moving. If the herd or flock has moved off of the ground that the worm eggs are hatching on by the time the eggs hatch then the worms dies quickly without a host and the grazing animals are healthier for it.
Modern day livestock farming has broken this natural law of keeping parasite levels low. We have fenced in these grazers and so they have no choice but to graze the same land over and over again, with literally millions of eggs coming out of them, many of them being eaten. Young lambs with poor immune systems are especially susceptible to parasitic worms. The most nefarious of the worms, the "Barber Pole Worm," feeds on blood it acquires through the intestinal wall of animals. A heavy population of these worms, left unchecked, can easily kill lambs quickly.
Thus enters the use of synthetic dewormers — but we don't use those. By using portable, lightweight, solar powered electric fencing we are able to mimic the constant movement of a wild bunch of grazers! By only allowing the sheep 2 or 3 days in a small area before moving them to an adjacent pasture, the sheep are gone by the time the worm eggs hatch.
The big, BIG benefit of this style of farming is for the soil, however. By mimicking the natural grazing cycle of the sheep, we are also mimicking the natural growth cycle of the pasture plants. These plants co-evolved for millions of years with grazers. So by giving them intense, short periods of grazing followed by ample recovery periods they are being treated exactly as they have been treated by wild grazers until "modern" humans arrived on the scene a few thousand years ago.
What really excites us is what happens below ground when pastures are grazed this way. Grasslands literally sequester TONS of carbon. As the pasture plants grow, they generate dense root systems that form symbiotic relationships with TRILLIONS of microscopic soil organisms. The partnership is simple: the plants secrete liquid carbon (sugar basically, but "root exudates" for us soil nerds) out of its roots in exchange for the soil critters making more nutrients and water available to the plant. The liquid carbon is produced by the plant during photosynthesis, using sunlight and CO2 from the air. Catch that? These plants are pulling carbon out of the air and pumping it into the soil. Once it enters the soil it is quickly consumed by soil organisms and the carbon is STORED in the soil food web. All this is happening at the same time that grazers are producing milk, meat and fiber above ground.
This is what scientists and farmers are calling REGENERATIVE agriculture. By respecting nature's natural cycles we are able to build, not just sustain, soil health while at the same time producing food and fiber for human use. By using this natural grazer/grass relationship, thousands of farms around the world are sequestering millions of tons of carbon every year. This is an exciting time to be alive!
If you have any questions regarding our animals or practices we use, please don't hesitate to contact us.
USDA Organic Standards
Mt. Healthy Hatchery