Entries in Heritage Breeds (44)

Tuesday
May132014

on the farm ~ quick spring update

 

Spring is a time of renewal and busy-ness in life, especially on the farm.  New chores and jobs seem to grow as fast as the green grass.  Here's a quick look at what's going on at Synergistic Acres...

Our Galloway CATTLE are ravenous for fresh, spring grass and we are building their daily pasture more than twice as large as normal.  Our small group of spring calving is complete and we have lots of nourishing grass for the whole herd.

The PUPPIES continue to be roly-poly bundles of energy.  They certainly have their own personalities and we are excited to meet the new owners so we can best match needs to pups.  Mara Mama is weaning the pups naturally and gradually.  Both Charlie and Mara are giving lessons on respecting elders while they eat.

Our Large Black PIGS can barely be seen in their lush pastures.  We have a group that we will take for processing soon and several litters of varying ages foraging and growing that will allow us to offer pork more frequently throughout the year.

We have a set of very sprcial Heritage Barred Rock CHICKENS, that have been bred specifically for their old-world meat characteristics for over six decades. These will soon be ready for processing.  The hens of the group have just started laying EGGS which is a nice balance to some of our current layer flock that has begun their annual molt during which they don't lay as much.  

One broody HEN that adopted an area by our barn has been sitting on eggs.  She has just a few days left and we are so hopeful that she will be successful in her hatch.  We'd be delighted to see little chicks tottering along after their mama in the yard.

The Heritage breed TURKEY poults are in the brooder, just starting to get some feathers.  They will soon graduate to the pasture pens and follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of turkeys that have enjoyed the pasture based methods we use at Synergistic Acres.

FARMER Jeff has just three weeks left of his 'day job' and then he'll get to be on summer break.  The whole FARM Family is looking forward to that!

 

What's keeping you busy?

 

Saturday
Mar222014

2014 Spring Poultry Orders

Order now for fresh, pasture raised chicken from Synergistic AcresIt is time once again to order your fresh organic fed pasture raised chickens. This year we plan on raising all of our chickens in two large batches - one in the spring and one in the fall. We are doing this to avoid the heat of the summer with our chickens. It will be important to consider this when you order chickens - there will be 25 weeks between our two batches.  This batch will be available in May/June and the fall batch approximately in late October.

We LOVE the flavor of the chicken it is wonderful!  The broth is phenomenal and has less than a teaspoon - absolutely no bad stuff I have to scrape off when making bone broth.  We are more than pleased with our birds!  The only thing we wish is that we could get bigger chickens for our hungry eaters :)  Thank you so much for the chickens!

- Pattie

We will once again raise three types of birds - each with their own special niche in our dining palettes.

 

Synergistic Acres raises three types of meat chickens, which one is best for you?The Cornish Cross has become the standard American Broiler for most American families. It grows quickly and produces lots of juicy tender breast meat. Our Cornish X birds are similar in shape to the bird you would buy at the grocery store, but that is where the similarities end. Because of how we choose to raise the birds - outside and on fresh pasture daily, they become an entirely different bird from industrial-raised chicken. The magic of clean sunshine and cleansing grass ensures that these are healthier and more flavorful than any industrial bird you have ever tasted. $4.35/# (average 3 - 4#) AVAILABLE MAY

The Prairie Ranger chicken that we raise come from traditional French lineage. Since the 1960’s, French farmers have focused on raising a gourmet strand of bird that is suited well for foraging outdoors and developing excellent meat characteristics. While the Cornish Cross was selected over many years to be able to grow lots of juicy white meat, the Prairie Ranger chicken was designed to have a more complex and firm meat. They take longer to grow out and this slower growth enhances the flavor and texture of the meat. The meat will be darker and slightly more firm with longer legs and less breast meat.  This is our family's favorite chicken! $5.15/# (averages 4 - 5#) AVAILABLE JUNE 

graduation from brooder to pasture is an exciting day!Heritage Breed Chickens are an exciting offering. We raise two distinct breeds of birds that have been around for decades providing Americans with great tasting chicken dinners. We are breeding these birds to bring back some of the fantastic flavor that has been lost over the years without sacrificing all of the great things our modern chicken has to offer. We are carefully selecting the best from our flock and crossing them to produce a very unique and special line of birds that we will raise for customers looking for the ultimate in heritage meats. We use two breeds for this breeding.$4.35/# (averages 4#) AVAILABLE MAY

The two breeds used in developing our heritage breed chickens are:

  • The Barred Rock is the traditional American Meat bird. Until World War II it was by far the most popular chicken in the USA for the frying pan. Most would consider this their Grandma’s Chicken. Its popularity came from its ability to create great tasting meat from free ranging on natural diets. If you loved Grandma’s chicken as a kid, then it was likely a Barred Rock you remember.
  • The Buckeye is an endangered breed that we have started breeding on our farm. It has all of the characteristics and qualities that we look for in quality heritage breeds. It thrives in our climate, forages well and is very hardy. We raise Buckeyes for both egg production and meat.

 

 

yes, chickens really do eat grass - and we think it makes a healthier chickenWe raise our chickens outside on pasture. They begin their lives in a secure indoor brooder where we can ensure they have the warmth and protection they need. As soon as they are able to thrive outdoors, we move them out to pasture into moveable pasture pens. These pens are designed to protect the chickens and give them shelter from the weather while ensuring they have 24 hour exposure to fresh air and green grass for the rest of their lives. 

We have eaten 2 of the chickens and they are great!  We put one in the crock pot all day with some dry Italian dressing and let it cook, we call this Freddie in the Pot, it was great.....and the other we made chicken noodle soup with, it was great too...  I know that we will be back soon.  I won't buy chicken or eggs from the store anymore.  Can't wait until you have beef too!

-Deborah

 

All of our chickens are supplemented a completely organic local milled grain that come from farmers right here in Kansas.  Their feed is GMO free and contains only whole grains, minerals and sea kelp for added nutrition and health.  

Synergistic Acres freshly processed frozen chickens stay fresh in bpa-free bagsWhen you buy a chicken from Synergistic Acres, you will receive a whole chicken (including neck) packaged in BPA-free plastic sealed bag.  Gizzards, livers, feet or other parts may be requested and are generally sold by the pound. Chickens picked up on the day of processing will be fresh. Later pick-ups or deliveries will be frozen. Our farm fresh chickens will store in the freezer for up to six months with no loss of freshness.

To ensure we raise enough chickens, you first pre-order on our site.  After receiving a confirmation email, you will send in a deposit of $5 per bird by mail.  As the dates approach, we will email you details for the timing of your order and you can either pick it up on the day of processing or make arrangements to get it at a later date.

This is frickin good chicken - Jim

your chickens are raised on pasture in these protective portable 'chicken tractors' that we've built specially for themYou can make an appointment to visit the farm to pick up your chicken or arrange to pick it up in the city. Generally, we deliver to "the city" on Wednesdays. Other days may be able to be worked out if needed.  The balance of your payment is due at the time you receive your chickens. Then, you are all set to enjoy some delicious and nutritious naturally raised farm fresh chicken!

Monday
Dec302013

Christmas calf!

You might not expect winter babies for the farm, and frankly, we did not either!  Nevertheless, we were thrilled with our Christmas Day surprise.

Our four heifers (first time cow mamas) were due as soon as the beginning of October.  However, as things go, we cannot always predict when babies will appear and as October passed without calves, signs indicated we still had some time to go before their calves would appear.  Providing quality forage for the moms-to-be and maintaining their overall health continued to be our goal as they continued their pregnancies into winter.  We also hoped for some nice, mild winter weather!  Mid-December brought some signs of an upcoming birth for Yoko, one of our black heifers. (You look for these signs by spending an inordinate amount of time looking at her "parts" and noticing changes - yes, this is considered polite dinner conversation at our house.)  And still, the days passed and passed...and no calf arrived.  We started to wonder if our heifers really were pregnant!  We were particularly watchful as the heifers are first time birthers and we wanted to make sure the birthing experience went smoothly.  We wanted to be available should heifer or calf show any signs of distress.  

First time Mom, Yoko, nuzzles her newborn, AngelOn Christmas Eve, Yoko looked as usual.  On Christmas morning, Yoko still looked as usual.  As we completed chores in preparation to go to a family celebration that day, we were amazed to see a newborn calf by Yoko's side.  Apparently, things had gone smoothly!  The calf had just been born and Mama and Baby were both doing fine.  Mama was calling to Baby, cleaning her and protecting her.  We made it to the family celebration a bit late and cut our visit short so we could return to check on Baby.  The night temps were very chilly for a newborn, but we found she was safely nestled in a bed of hay under her Mama's head for warmth.  

Angel easily crossed under the fencing for her nap and Mom Yoko followed. Bull Winchester looks on and made sure we didn't disturb his daughter.We have named her Angel and are thriled she is the first female calf born to a registered Galloway on our farm.  Being a girl, she will grow up to be registered as well and continue the wonderful tradition that is Galloway cattle.  Oooh, a girl! August, the first calf of 2013, greets the new arrival - the only girl of the year!

Friday
Oct252013

a closer look @ our layers

The 'a closer look @' series is concluding with my favorite, the layers.  We had always heard about farm-fresh eggs and starting our farm, we knew we'd be a part of that goodness.  Visitors enjoy seeing the beautiful flock of chickens roaming about and actually gathering eggs laid that very day.  We get a lot of questions about our layers, so I'll answer them here...

THE BIRDS

Maran, Buckeye, Barred Rock, Easter Egger, Rhode Island Reds and Farm SpecialsWhat breeds do you have?

Quite the variety!  Because we aim to hatch our own layers, we have some purebred chickens and some 'farm special' birds.  Our core breeds are Buckeye, Barred Rock, Rhode Island Red, Maran, and Easter Egger.  Each breed adds a unique aspect to our flock and we love the diversity!  The breed of chicken determines the egg color.  Our colors are cream, peach, brown, green, blue, and chocolate brown.

How do you raise your layers?

Our layers live on pasture with an egg-mobile for shelter.  Their egg-moblie is like a shed on wheels so we can move them to new pasture, following the cattle, every week.  We put portable electric netting around their designated pasture, though some chickens are insistent to fly out and roam a bit more.  They are flock animals though so they generally stick fairly close to home (which is the egg-mobile as that is the consistent feature in every pasture).  

There are roosts inside the egg-mobile, where they sleep at night and occasionally hang out in the day.  The wire floor allows the poop to fall through which fertilizes the land, yet provides protection from predators.  On one side are nest boxes, a private place where the hens like to go to lay their eggs.  Interestingly, the hens tend to have favorite nest boxes over time.  At gathering time, some boxes will have a dozen eggs while others have just one, indicating at least 12 hens visited the first nest box and perhaps only one visited the other.  

tree limbs make great roostsThe egg-mobile has a ramp/door which we lower each morning for the chickens to range around their pasture, foraging and exercising and otherwise acting like chickens.  They have access to their roost (they also roost underneath on the axles in the shade) and nest boxes throughout the day.  At night, their instict is to roost, so they go into the egg-mobile and we go out at sundown and secure their door to keep them safe from predators.  That's right, every single morning and every single night, we tend to the layers - in addition to the daily chores.  Chickens are kinda funny when they sleep, the are practically comatose - so if we need to sort or move them, nighttime is best.

Jeff and his Dad built the egg-mobile mostly from recycled materials.  A generous neighbor gave us the wagon axle base.  The egg-mobile is really sturdy as we move it a minimum of 52 times each year to fresh pasture and it is exposed to 365 days of weather each year.

What do you feed your layers?

First and foremost, being pasture raised, they eat a lot of grass, weeds, and insects.  We supplement with an organic and local grain mix of corn, alfalfa, roasted soybeans, barley, and oats.  Our feed recipe includes probiotics, calcium, diametaceous earth and kelp meal for added benefit.  We soak our feed prior to feeding it, which increases their efficiency in digesting it.  

Why do you have roosters?

Roosters protect the flock, calling an alarm when they notice danger.  Roosters also fertilize the eggs we want to incubate to raise new layers.  In addition, they help establish the pecking order of the flock.  To keep peace in the flock, we maintain a ratio of about 1 rooster to 15 hens.

THE EGGS

best part of chores!Does a chicken lay an egg every day?

Though some breeds do, our chickens tend to lay every other day (or two) during peak egg production.  Our breeds have been selected for a variety of traits, not only egg production.  We think this leads to better chicken health overall.

How do the seasons affect your egg supply?

Chickens lay eggs in sync with exposure to light.  Our chickens decrease their egg production with fall, with the least amount of eggs in winter.  We believe nature allows that rest period for a reason and do not augment our chickens with light to increase egg production.  In spring, when daylight increases, so does egg production.  

Seasons also affect our eggs as the yolk color changes with diet and diet varies with the seasons.  The lush grasses of spring are different than the bounty of late summer insects.  However, our chickens are always pasture raised and that can be seen in their yolks no matter the season!

the girls admire the new feathers this hen is growing during her annual moltChickens molt each year (usually in fall) and do not lay as much during this time as their energies are put towards growing new feathers instead.  We stagger the ages of our flock so they are not all molting at the same time.  Hens egg production reduces after their second molt, so we add to our flock each year to maintain a consistent egg supply.

What is broody?

Hens will occasionally 'get broody' with a nest of eggs.  Usually, they find a nest with several eggs in it and sit on it all day and night.  If they stay with the nest, getting up only once in a while for the necessities, they are attempting to brood a nest to the hatching stage.  If they stick with it for 21 days, there could be chicks! 

We've only had one hen that brooded one nest of eggs.  Over the decades, most breeds have not been selected for broodiness as egg laying ceases during broody times.

Are the eggs fertile?

Yes, we have roosters with our flock so the eggs are fertile.  We've hatched out many eggs from our layers and had 100% fertility.  We gather eggs daily, so no eggs begin to develop and because the eggs you get are refrigerated, they cannot be incubated.  

How long does it take to lay an egg?

Well, the actually laying takes only a few seconds as I have personally had the pleasure of seeing an egg being laid - the egg comes popping out!  However, the hen usually chooses a nest box, settles in for a while, rests, lays her egg, rests some more and then decides to roam around again.  Like people, hens have different personalities and some of our hens seem to be all business, laying their egg in 15 minutes while others stay for hours often visiting several nest boxes during that time.  That's why we have multiple nest boxes, to allow the 'longer layers' time and space to feel comfortable.

How do you clean the eggs?

We use a soft cloth and warm water to spot wash the eggs as needed.  We want to keep the natural bloom on the eggs as that helps keep them fresh for you!  We line the nest boxes with straw to help keep the eggs clean until we gather them.

Can I get some of these wonderful eggs?

Yes!  We sell eggs by the dozen, either on farm or at city deliveries.  Many customers find it easiest to pick up an order every two weeks, but some prefer to order as needed.  You choose what works for you and we'll chat with the hens to see what they can do.I love the variety of our eggs and hope you do, too!

 

 

Monday
Jul152013

a closer look @ our cattle

The cattle arrived within a week of our move to the farm and we have loved having them as part of Synergistic Acres.  They are a really key part of the synergy we aim for.  Being ruminants, they graze down the pastures and leave their manure to fertilize future growth.  The chickens benefit from the insect larvae deposited in the manure, they also forage more efficiently in the shorter grass and in turn, spread out the manure.  Which in turn leads to a better pasture, etc, etc.

hay isn't just for the cattle, fun for kiddos too!We raise Galloway cattle, a heritage breed known for it's superior quality of beef.  They hail from Scotland and thrive in pasture based environments and ours are 100% grass fed.  They are one of the few breeds that have been continuously developed specifically for grass fed beef.  They eat grass during the growing season and for as long as we can in the winter with stockpiled (ungrazed) grass and then we feed them hay.  This winter, we moved all the cattle to my father-in-law's property as he allowed us to use his giant hay barn which made winter feeding much easier, plus he took care of them which included the unfun task of breaking ice on the water troughs.  I really missed having the cattle on farm though and was very glad to have them return in the spring.

 

Galloways distinct shaggy coat keeps them (but not the farmer) warm and dry in winter     A distinct characteristic of Galloway is their shaggy coat.  It keeps them warm and dry in the winter and then they shed some of it for the summer.  Galloway are very hardy and handle the cold easily.  It's the heat that bothers them so we aim to incorporate shaded areas during the hottest days.  Our cattle appreciate trees not only for their shade, but can often be found scratching an itch on a tree trunk or browsing on the leaves.  Galloway are also known for being good mothers, a quality we have seen in all our cows.

Our Galloway are rotated daily to fresh pasture.  With access to one area, they graze well on a variety of forages and then have access to a whole new batch the next day.  why, yes, we do graze the cattle in the front yard (drought makes you value fresh forage!)We build their daily pasture based on the amount and quality of forage available - we want an area to be grazed for regrowth, not demolished.  As with our other animals, we use portable electric fencing and yes, we use a lot of it to build cattle pastures.  My dad was helping one day and called the step-in posts 'rock finders' as we build cattle pasture throughout the property which includes many areas where rocks are just below the surface.  The extra effort is worth it though, as our pastures are improved by the grazing.  I never knew how loud cattle eating could be and it's pretty amazing as I move the cattle each afternoon to their fresh pasture to pause a moment and listen to their contented chomping.  We have two 100 gallon water troughs that we fill daily and move from pasture to pasture with the cattle.

Mmmm, grass is where it's at!This management of daily pasture moves is part of why we are able to raise our cattle without using antibiotics or chemical treatments.  Encouraging cattle health by providing a natural diet of grass also encourages good digestion and overall health, without the need to prop them up with medicines.

We currently have 14 cattle.  Winchester is our bull (weighing around 1800#), our cows are Ruane, Sapphire, Lass, and Ulani (weighing around 1200#).  York, Yardley and Yukon are our steers.  Our heifers are Yoko, Yachi, YoMama and our newest calves are Zane, Z3, and Zuki.  You might notice a trend with those names.  Registered Galloways are named by an identifying letter that changes each year.  I'm thinking this year's calves with 'A' names will be much easier than last year's 'Z' names.  With our herd are a few of my father-in-laws cattle which are the Belted Galloways.  He has a steer, cow, heifer and calf (which he has named Steer, Mama, Baby and then he let the girls name the new calf, Zuri).  

Each one of our cattle has a distinct personality and I find it intriguing to watch the herd and how they relate to each other.

Page 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 ... 9 Next 5 Entries ยป
Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
Keep in touch with the farm
* indicates required