Our First Harvest-"Tastes Like Chicken!"

Buy Local Food...like ChickenSo we finally did it!  We harvested our first product.  It's a chicken... we've had them since they were tiny babies and now they are ready.   

No these aren't your Cornish Cross freaks that grow in a few weeks and can't even walk because they are so fat.  We chose Delaware as our breed.  

What's wrong with the Cornish Cross?  I'll let you read what one experienced Natural Food farmer has to say:

"The Cornish Cross has been bred to put on weight at an astronomical rate, reaching 5 pounds of live weight by 42 days of age. The aim was to produce a bird that basically sits, eats, and grows quickly while producing a lot of breast meat. However, this incredible fast growth is detrimental to the birds welfare and health. Since they have been selected for high muscle-to-bone ratio, the Cornish Cross bird often suffers from joint, ligament, and muscle problems as well as hock burn and other skin ailments. Their heavy weight makes them prone to heart strain and sudden heart failure. Their immune systems have been compromised through selective breeding, and they are susceptible to many infectious diseases. Due to these health concerns, the common practice is to keep the birds on antibiotics their entire, short life. Because of all of these problems, the Animal Welfare Approved association has determined that the Cornish Cross breed "is inherently flawed as a high-welfare pasture-raised bird," and they are encouraging small farmers like us to experiment with other breeds that do not have the problems that the Cornish Cross have."

Delawares are classified as Threatened by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

"the Delaware still makes an excellent dual-purpose bird. It has well-developed egg and meat qualities, and a calm and friendly disposition. The breed is noted for rapid growth and fast feathering of the chicks. Cocks grow to 8 pounds and hens to 6 pounds. They have moderately large combs and medium sized head and neck. Their body is moderately long, broad, and deep. The keel is also long, extending well to front at the breast and rear of the legs. The legs are well set apart and are large and muscular."

I can absolutely verify the leg part of this.  We are focused on raising all natural foods here Tyner Pond Farm and these chickens are runners.  They are in a mobile coop with no fencing whatsoever.   Wherever they want to go they go...and they cover a LOT of territory.  The breast isn't as big as the Cornish Cross but they will win any race :-)

Facts about Organic FoodsThis is a view of my make-shift butcher shop.   Note the cone on the right and my new automatic chicken plucker in the foreground. 

I'm going to replace the camp stove scalder with one of those Deep Fried Turkey cookers for the next round when I "take care" of the rest of our roosters.

The process was pretty straightforward.  First I had to catch the thing.  Since we are now getting eggs I went for one of the roosters.   I wish I had video of me trying to lure a rooster into a dog cage.  

But then again there is a lot comical about my farming tactics.  I think my neighbors are doing a lot of eye-rolling.  

Free range chicken But finally I caught him.  You are supposed to let them fast a while before you butcher...I guess to let them contemplate their futre.   We gave this one about 8 hours.  He actually accepted his fate pretty well.  

My farm dog Kiply tourmented him a little so I had to remove him from the process.   But I'm really amazed how calm the whole thing was.   It just seems like this is what these chickens were born for.  Running around, cleaning up after the Waygu cattle & when the time comes giving us some great food.

I'll go into more detail on how we raise and prepare our Chickens for the Farmers Market in the future.  For now I'll just close with this picture of a happy farmer. 

Farmers Market Chicken