THE PASTURED DIFFERENCE
There's been a lot of press about pasture raised animals, and there's certainly a general understanding that pasture is healthier (and probably happier) for them. But what are the differences?
From the health perspective, pasture raised birds had 21% less fat than their commercial counterparts, and 30% less saturated fat. They were higher, however, in Omega-3 fatty acids,and 50% higher in Vitamin A.
(Sustainable Agriculture Study, 1999, Barb Gorski)
Pastured poultry will grow at a more natural (and therefore slower) rate because their diet is not heavy in protein designed to bulk them quickly.
Pastured poultry HAS a taste. We're so used to tasteless chicken, that one of the biggest adjustments to buying pasture raised meats is that you don't need to mask the natural flavors with heavy spices. I "coat" our whole roasting chickens with a mix of salt, pepper and some dried onion flakes, and the family's reviews are always stellar. It doesn't take much!
HOW TO BUY
We raise a slow-growing meat bird (Freedom Rangers and Heritage Rocks) in pastured pens in the Polyface style. These 12 by 12 foot pens hold 60 to 75 birds for 11 to 13 weeks (they are brooded for 21 days in warmth) and are moved twice daily to provide constant fresh salad underfoot. Typically processed at 14 to 16 weeks, the birds weigh between 4 and 6 lbs, and have a much richer flavor, higher nutritional content and more proportional frame than the commercial Cornish/Rock cross. One of our customers refers to a fresh, pastured bird as "killer chicken" because it is a taste unlike any they have had before. We use NO antibiotics, feeding enhancers, animal by-products or artificial products or lights.
We have fresh chicken available from Memorial Day until Thanksgiving. After that, we'll have frozen until we are sold out.
We chose Muscovy ducks because of their naturally lower fat content, although they are a slower growing (and slower incubating) duck than all other breeds. At 12 weeks, hens reach 5 to 8 lbs and drakes typically are 6 to 11 lbs and are at their peak of tenderness. Muscovies are good foragers, fulfilling up to 80% of their dietary needs.
We have duck breast available throughout the year (frozen), and we process fresh ducks periodically, beginning in July and typically running through January or February.
Next processing for fresh, whole ducks: Late July or early August
Canter Hill Farm raises Naragansett and Bourbon Red Heritage Turkeys. They spend their first 2 weeks in our living room, then move to a heated shed until they are feathered. At about 8 weeks they make the 150 foot journey to the turkey pen. By about 12 - 14 weeks, these little guys are brave enough to fly over the pen in the morning hours and spend their days foraging with the adult turkeys and guinea hens. They fly back in at night (mostly), and we round up the strays with the help our three dogs and two toddlers. AVAILABILITY: Canter Hill currently provides whole Turkeys for Thanksgiving and ground turkey and turkey cuts year around (until we're sold out). If enough of smaller turkeys look big enough by Christmas, we'll process a few more then, but it you know you want a Christmas turkey, consider ordering an extra at Thanksgiving!
In true African style, Wayne couldn't wait to add ostriches to our farm. We have ostrich meat regularly available - steaks, roasts and ground ostrich - for the healthiest red meat there is!