Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Outdoor Chicken Party
We processed our first batch of pastured poultry last friday. They have been on pasture the day we got them as chicks in the mail. They have done suprisingly well considering how wet it was this spring! There were quite a few days when i had to put down some old hay in their pasture pens to keep them out of the water flowing through the pasture.
The photo shows our holding pen for the birds (244 of them) next to the processing area near the barn. You can see the broiler brooders in the background housing the 3rd batch of poultry (the 2nd batch is out in the pasture pens). I went with this setup this year and it worked well. I gather the birds the night before processing from each pasture pen and drive them to the pasture holding area, set up a canopy and hang waterers from it, set up a perimeter fence and outside that electified poultry netting. From the evening I put them in the holding area until we process them early the next day, the birds do not get any grain (though they eat grass and clover in their holding area). This makes the processing a cleaner affair.
Yours truly is on the right evicting a few unruly customers from the beer tent! I grab three at a time to give to our helper and chicken processing guru who processes the birds. After they are killed, plucked and gutted they go into a cold water tub. Christa retrieves them from the tub into another tub and goes over them picking out pin feathers, cutting off their oil gland and sorting them into cold water tanks for customer birds and home birds.
The customer birds end up in a larger tank (stainless steel milk bulk tank behind Christa in the photo to the left) filled with water and ice to cool the birds down. We break for lunch and then pull the birds from the bulk tank, drain water from them, insert giblets, bag them, weigh them, put on labels and then rest them gently into the refrigerated produce cooler. They age there until the following day when the customer comes to pick up their fresh pastured poultry.
Chicken produced and processed in this manner results in a far superior product than the mass produced chicken you buy in the supermarket. Our birds are raised humanely on pasture, supplemented with grain, drink fresh water daily and have plenty of room to roam. They are the best tasting chicken you will ever eat! Guaranteed!
Posted by jericho farmer at 8:30 PM