After having the privilege to care and raise a batch of chickens, the “reward” is this special day.  Photos below from 2014 Broiler Butcher Day.  It is a humbling experience to go through this process.  With help, we were able to clean and package 25 broilers in about three hours.

batch of broilers

Batch of broilers raised using the Joel Salatin portable shelter method. These birds are about 8 weeks old.

scalding broilers

After a proper killing, the broiler is dunked in a scalder at about 150 degree water temperature.

feather plucker

Feathers are removed with a plucker.

broiler processing

Removing internals, cut-up, final cleaning and prep for packaging.

The final product, a packaged chicken.

The final product, a packaged chicken.

Maybe not the most pleasant overall process but it makes one stop and think where our food really comes from.  As for a packaged chicken without a breast?  Jacob donated a number of breasts to our local High School fund-raiser for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Well it’s not quite fall yet, but our second batch of pasture poultry for the year went to grass this week.  We start the day old chicks in a chicken coop to control the temperature and keep them dry.  After three weeks they have good feather growth to withstand temperature swings and dampness from the elements.  By no means are they exposed completely to the outdoors.  A “chicken tractor” provides shelter and protection.  Plenty of fresh grass and fresh air without the worry of predators or weather.

 

Three week old broilers in their "chicken tractor" ready to move to fresh grass daily.

Three week old broilers in their “chicken tractor” ready to move to fresh grass daily.

Contact us if you would be interested in trying a chicken.  The taste is unlike anything you will find in a store.  Why?  Very few chickens grown in the USA and sold in stores actually have access to grass at any point in their life.  Grass is not required to keep a chicken alive, but when given the opportunity a chicken will readily consume grass as part of a normal healthy diet.

Feel free to stop by to see what we are talking about.

In the last post we noted that we are three years into our beef operation, yet we have not shipped any beef yet.  Last year we had our first calf crop, 5 heifers and 4 bulls.  The 5 heifer calves were shipped off to be developed into future momma cows.  We kept the four bull calves and are “finishing” them out, fattening them in our pastures to sell as pastured grass-fed beef.  Our first beef – one year to go – will be ready to butcher mid summer 2015.  Could we speed things up? Sure, the industrial agriculture sector does it all the time. Just bring in an outside energy source (oil) and you can compress the growing to finishing process.  Calves put into feed lots can be “finished” in less than 18 months, fed corn, corn by products and provided other growth promoting technologies.  Our farm uses very little outside inputs (minerals and stored forages).  The main energy source used on our farm to create beef is solar.

So what does a solar fattened one year old beef look like.  We are happy to share the photos below of our pastured only fat yearlings.  These cattle are just over one year old.  We need one more year to get these animals to “fat cattle” that are ready for your table.  Join us over the next year to watch these animals turn into gourmet pastured beef!

 

grass fat yearling

Where the tail meets the rump we can see a roll indicating good fat cover. Also smooth along back and folds along neck and behind front shoulder indicating good fleshing.

 

grass fat yearling

Note the smooth top line and folds of skin on neck, both indicating good fleshing. Yes this yearling is sporting a nose ring, that is a story for another day.

This yearling is also showing good developement on grass.  We look forward to next year with good anticipation.

This yearling is also showing good developement on grass. We look forward to next year with good anticipation.

pasture fat yearling

Here is the same animal shown above from another view. The hind end is full and smooth indicating good fat cover.

Have you ever heard the term “essential fatty acids”?  These are fats that we must consume in our diet to survive, we cannot manufacture these essential fats ourselves.  Let’s take a brief look at two fatty acids that you have probably heard about in the news, omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.

Essential fatty acids, omega 3 (animal fat) and omega 6 vegetable fat).

Essential fatty acids we consume in our diet. Omega 6 are inflammatory and Omega 3 are anti-inflammatory, we need both in the correct ratio.

Omega 6 fatty acids are inflammatory where omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory.  We need both components in our bodies to be healthy.  The important thing to research is the ratio of these two types of fatty acids in our diet.  Currently the average american diet is around 20 to 1 (20:1), that is 20 omega 6 fatty acids consumed to every 1 omega 3.  It appears for best health the ratio should be somewhere around 1:1 to 5:1, if you pick the middle of this range, the optimum would be say 3:1 or three omega 6 fatty acids consumed for every one omega 3 consumed.  WOW, we need to cut down on those inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.

The 2004 Times Magazine article, “The Fires Within”, brought awareness to the problem with the American diet over consumption of omega 6 fatty acids (inflammatory).  A benefit of consuming pasture raised animals is not in the omega 3 levels found in the meat, but note that pasture grazed beef will test around 2:1 versus grain-fed beef at 14:1 (omega 6 to omega 3 ratio).  Why is this?  Omega 6 fatty acids are from vegetable fat (oils).  Conventional beef are eating grain, where much of the vegetable fat is stored by the plant.  Consuming pasture grazed animals will help balance your diet’s omega 6 to 3 ratio, but the greatest gains in helping our diet on this issue would come from reducing consumption of omega 6 foods (vegetable oils), lard anyone?

Speaking of omega, the end of the greek alphabet, I think this post will end our discussion about FAT.  Hopefully you will continue your own research into the facts about consuming animal fats, especially the benefits of consuming great tasting pasture grazed meat, dairy and eggs.