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Poultry Article

Pastured Poultry

When we look at the commercial chicken confinement model for chickens, we can see many problems. First, the chickens are not getting any fresh air. Sure there are windows and doors on the confinement, but what good does that do in a dusty environment? That just means that the dust is going to blow around!

Second, they are not getting the nutrition from the grass. They may have access to the outside through a hole in the wall, but the new breed of broiler (Cornish Cross) are bred to eat and sleep. They are too lazy to get up and go out. Even if they were not lazy they would be doing so much work that they would not gain much weight. With the pasture model they get to be outside with fresh grass without much work!

Thirdly, they are getting antibiotics that they don't need. When the chicken is grown outside in a clean environment, and access to sunshine they do exceptionally well. We do not put one drop of antibiotics into our chickens for any reason. The only reason the confinement chickens need any antibiotics is because of their environment. Change their environment to a healthy one and drop the need for antibiotics.

The chickens are butchered following an unclean process. The chickens are scalded and picked (plucked) and then are mechanically eviscerated. During this process 99% of the time the intestines and stomach burst and contaminate the chicken. The chickens are then thrown into a cooling vat. (The state allows 10% fecal matter in the cooling vat). The chickens sit and soak in this fecal matter cooling down and are then are rinsed off. What good would a rinse job do if the chickens had soaked in the fecal water? The chickens are then packaged. The package weight is a very good percentage of this fecal water. So you are buying less than what you really pay for!

The day we get our chicks, we put them in a room with a temperature of 95 degrees. Before they arrive we spread 2 full sheets of news paper on the floor, one with feed and the other with sand (for grit). We also put a water fountain with a large amount of water so that they do not run out. The chicks live in here for about 3 weeks. After the first 3 days the temperature is dropped a degree a day to start to wean the chicks off of the warmth. At the end of the 3 weeks the chicks should be able to stand temperatures of 50 degrees.

At 3 weeks of age our chicks (now more like chickens) are moved out to the pasture in a 10ft. by 12ft. pen about 2 feet in height. The reason that the chickens are in the pen is to protect them from predators while they get the added benefits of daily fresh grass and bugs. This pen is moved daily through the pasture which gives the chickens fresh grass to munch on as well as a clean environment with the added benefit of a fresh line of bugs.

When the chickens have bugs and grass to eat their feed consumption is reduced by 15-20%!

The morning before butcher day we pull the feed out of the pens to help clear their intestines. This way when they are butchered there will be a smaller chance of contaminating the meat. That night we load the chickens into our stock trailer which we use to haul them to the butcher. It is best to load them at night because they are less active and easier to catch.

On butcher day the chickens are driven to the butcher early. We have not lost a chicken yet on the trip. The chickens are handed out of the trailer to the butcher. About the time that we hand in the last chicken the first one goes into the tub. We take the chickens and put them in 36 gallon tubs. Then, we put a bag of ice on them. When we arrive at home we prepare for our customers to arrive. Upon the customers arrival, they bag, weigh and pay for their chickens. They then can tour the farm if they would like to!

The Bible talks about being a good husbandman many times. When you raise your animals in an unclean environment are you regarding the life of your beast? Proverbs 12:10 states, "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast;" If we are to strive to obey the law and to be righteous then we are to regard the life of even a chicken. Also in Joel 1 verse 11 it is said, "Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandman; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished." We should be ashamed if we have to give our animals antibiotics just to keep them alive! Nowhere in the Bible does it ever refer to giving any animals antibiotics. When you raise your chickens the right way there is never a time that any antibiotics are needed.

Our purpose at Pilgrims' Acres is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. In order to do this we must study the word and do as it commands. There is nothing glorifying to God about putting a chicken in a confinement with hundreds of other chickens and then butchering them in an unsanitary way. The reason that today's confinement chickens are mechanically eviscerated is because men have become lazy. He doesn't want to get his hands dirty. The Bible strictly forbids slothfulness. "I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it and received instruction." Proverbs 24:30-32. If we consider the commercial growers process of growing them then we can see and take instruction. We, at Pilgrims' Acres, strive diligently to glorify God in all we do!

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