In today’s marketplace, poultry labelling and terminology has become increasingly difficult to decipher. Unfortunately, in many cases, companies are choosing to be less than transparent. At Nutrafarms we are big believers in saying “if you don’t know exactly who your farmer is, then there is no way you really know what you are getting.” That is why we are extremely proud to partner with our chicken farmers Chad & Dorothy.
Chad & Dorothy are proud to be the first and only Local Niche Farmers licensed by the Chicken Farmers of Ontario. This distinction means that their farm is the only farm of its kind able to offer the pastured poultry to Ontario families on a production scale.
Many companies say their poultry is pasture raised or free range because their birds have access to the outdoors but this is not truly pasture raised. Most systems will not have a significant amount of birds able to access fresh forage. However, with Chad and Dorothy’s unique method of farming, every chicken is on to fresh pasture every day. Chad and Dorothy’s chickens are raised seasonally.
The birds on Chad and Dorothy’s farm are outside on pasture 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for over half of their lives. Our farmers have perfected a system that uses portable chicken shelters. These structures have fresh air and water, as well as a roof that provides shade and protection from predators.
Pastured chicken farming is good for the environment. Our birds feed on to fresh pasture of bugs, grasses and legumes each day. The manure they produce fertilizes the ground and provides much-needed nutrients that promote the growth of healthy pasture for the birds to feed on time and time again. This way much less petroleum is used to grow the chickens.
This is not a new process. Farmers have been employing similar methods for centuries. Unfortunately, in modern times, pasture raised poultry is more expensive than other methods of poultry farming and is a bit unpredictable due to Mother Nature. It is simply easier and more predictable to raise chickens in climate-controlled windowless concrete barns. Most often this means that poultry farmers are forced to adhere to the lowest cost feed/formula methods.
This methodology is extremely common in modern farming. This means that as long as animal feed meets minimum standards in terms of animal needs almost any products can be used. More often than not this means waste products from many industries are used in livestock feed. Some of the cheaper fillers that are commonly used in animal feed include bakery waste, used fryer oil, animal renderings, distillery waste and even some forms of plastic.
The lowest cost feed/formula is mainly used because farmers are paid by weight. This means it’s advantageous to raise animals as quickly as possible rather than as healthy as possible. As a general rule, the animal feed comprises about 80% of the cost of growing a chicken. It is easy to see why a farm would save money on its biggest expense, but it doesn’t mean they should.
Do you want to feed your family anything that was grown using the lowest cost feed formula?
Unfortunately, most of the terms used in poultry labelling are not legally defined in Canada which often leaves consumers confused. All of the chicken grown in Canada is free run, grain fed, antibiotic free and does not contain any added hormones or steroids.
The biggest differences you’ll find in Canadian raised poultry is the environment they are raised in and the feed they consume. That’s why Chad & Dorothy have placed such a huge emphasis on their sustainable farming system and are so proud to be the first and only family certified to sell pastured chicken in Ontario.
Chickens must have access to the outdoors - This is one of the areas in which many chicken suppliers actively mislead consumers. Having access to the outdoors can mean as little as having a small door or window on a traditional commercial chicken barn. Having a door that opens to a small enclosed pen does not ensure that the birds will go outdoors and it doesn’t mean there will be much grasses or legumes available to them so that the chickens can forage for food the way they traditionally would (at Chad and Dorothy’s farm).
Also, commercial regulations allow many exemptions so they (the birds) don’t have to have access to the outdoors such as too hot, too cold, too wet, predators could be about or during migration periods. With all these exemptions when exactly do the birds have to go outside?
Our birds don’t just have access to the outdoors, they are outdoors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for over half of their lives.
Do you still have questions about our Chicken Farm? Please submit any questions you may have on our contact page.