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 small family run hatchery in Ohio and our feed from a small family run feed mill in northern Vermont. At the end of their 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.
You can get our eggs every week throughout the summer with an egg CSA! Sign up here.
We raise all our laying hens up from day old chicks. They eat only organic feed for their entire life. 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 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. Our yolks are darkest when the chickens have access to green grass, and lightest throughout the winter when they don’t.
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. We do have a CSA option available: CSA members will receive a fresh, whole chicken every 2 weeks from July through September, 7 times. 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 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 with rice instead of water. We appreciate our CSA customers, they help pay for our feed and chicks!
We raise our broilers in mobile “chicken tractors” that we move daily. After 2 weeks in a heated brooder, the chickens are big enough to go outside into the tractors. The chickens are 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. In 2017 we simply didn’t see ANY of the common health problems associated with Cornish Cross chickens, zero.
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!
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 its grilled, smoked or roasted. Parting out a whole chicken into legs, wings and breasts whether its raw or cooked takes 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.
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.
Our chicken and egg CSA members get first dibs on reserving a turkey!
Our flock of sheep are in their 4th 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' lifecycle relies on the worm egg being passed out of the back end of the animal, hatching into a larvae and being ingested again 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. However, 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 area, 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 heavy, 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 forms dense root systems that form symbiotic relationship with TRILLIONS of microscopic soil organisms. The partnership is simple: the plants secrete liquid carbon (sugar, basically) 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 using photosynthesis, using sunlight and CO2 from the air. Did you hear 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 the soil life and the carbon is STORED in the soil food web. All this is happening at the same time that grazers and producing milk, meat and fiber above ground.
This is what scientists and farmers are calling REGENERATIVE agriculture. By respecting natures' 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!