Entries in Prairie Ranger (14)

Thursday
Jun062013

Pasture Raised Chicken vs. Organic Chicken

Often, when new customers are looking at our pasture raised chickens, it is difficult to know how to compare them with what they are used to buying in the grocery store.  At most stores, the closest comparison is organic chickens.  If you compare our pasture raised chickens with grocery store organic chickens, the first difference that you'll notice right away is price.  Organic grocery store chickens are considerably lower cost than our pasture raised chickens.

So what's the difference other than price?  Really, the better question is...what's the same? 

On our farm, the only similarity between organic chicken from the grocery store and our pasture raised chicken is we both feed organic grains.  However, typically an organic chicken from the grocery store has been grown indoors its entire life, in an industrial chicken house with up to 30,000 other chickens.  National organic standards for chickens are:

  • The birds must be raised organically no later than two days after they hatch;
  • They must be fed certified organic feed for their entire lives. Organic feed cannot contain animal by-products, antibiotics or genetically engineered grains and cannot be grown using persistent pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
  • It is prohibited to give drugs, antibiotics and hormones to organic birds (please note: federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising poultry).
  • All birds must have outdoor access.

Here is a picture of an organic chicken house.  You cannot see the outdoor access, but is generally a small door at one end that leads out to a concrete or gravel pad.  This is much different than how we raise our chickens - and likely quite different than most people think organic chickens are raised.  

Our chickens spend the first few weeks of their lives in an indoor brooder where they are kept warm and safe.  As soon as the chicks can be healthy and comfortable outside, they are moved out onto pasture day and night for the rest of their lives.  They have portable, bottomless shelters that roll along the pastures with them - ensuring they have fresh food and bedding all the time.  The chickens are sheltered from the weather and protected from predators while allowed free access to the pasture.  

This is a much more expensive way to raise chickens.  For one, it is labor intensive - we move the chickens entire home 2x a day, refreshing food, water and pasture.  This means we have to keep the shelters small and the animals in small groups. Second, because the chickens are more active and fulfill a large part of their diet on nutritionally superior - but less energy-filled grass, they grow slower.  Also, it requires a significant amount of land be dedicated to raising each group of birds.  All of these factors add to the final cost, but also create a final product that does not compare in any way to a chicken who is grown inside its entire life, even if fed organic grains.  

Some of the nutritional differences, according to a recent National Geographic study on pasture raised meats are: 

  • 21 percent less fat than conventional chicken, and 30 percent less saturated fat
  • 50 percent more vitamin A
  • significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids

If you are going to compare our pasture raised organic chickens please only compare them with other organic pasture raised chickens.  

 

 

Sunday
Apr142013

2013 Spring Chicken Orders

Pasture Raised Organic Fed Chicken


Order now for fresh pasture raised organic fed 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 late April/early May and the other 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 APRIL 29TH

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 much longer to grow out, 11-12 weeks. 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#) AVAIALBLE JUNE 16

graduation from brooder to pasture is an exciting day!Heritage Breed Roosters 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 4-5#) AVAILABLE AUGUST

The two breeds used in developing our heritage breed roosters 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 characteristic 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 out 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, choosing a date from those listed.  After pre-ordering, you send in a deposit of $5 per bird (online or by sending a check in the mail).  We will email you details for the timing of your order if you’d like to visit the farm and get the freshest chicken possible.

This is frickin good chicken - Jim

your chickens are raised on pasture in these protective portable 'chicken tractors' that we've built specially for themIf not available on processing day, you can come down later to pick up your chicken on the farm 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!

Saturday
Dec012012

(Final) Story of the Prairie Ranger - Weeks 7 - 11

The updates on the Prairie Ranger were more sparse for the last 4 weeks because other than growing larger, there were not many weekly changes.  However, this is the most IMPORTANT time for the Prairie Ranger chicken and what makes it stand apart from the Cornish X that we also grow.   The extra 4 weeks that the Prairie Ranger grow is spent growing slowly and eating a lot of grass. Each day, being moved onto new pasture 2x a day puts a lot of fresh grass in front of them.  This fresh grass is what makes the Prairie Ranger so incredibly nutritious and delicious. 

 

During this time of growing and maturing the Prairie Ranger  chicken develops its uniqueness.  Its body grows and develops.  Its legs become longer and its breast becomes more elongated and since it spends so much time moving around, its muscles become more firm and textured.  The Prairie Ranger chickens on our farms take around 30 days extra to grow when compared to the Cornish.  This is a considerable expense to the farm that customers who appreciate the Prairie Ranger's gourmet characteristics think are worth it.  Thirty days on the farm represent at least 60 pasture moves, water fills and feed fills.  They wiil travel nearly a quarter mile in this time and have access to an acre and a half of grass.  In addition, each of them will eat an extra 10 pounds of 100% organic locally milled grains.

 

We processed the Prairie Ranger chickens last weekend.  We are able to process our chickens on farm under a USDA exemption that allows farmers to process a small number of chickens on farm and sell directly to customers.  In Kansas, that is limited to 1,000 birds.  We do small batches of no more than 100 birds at a time.  We use high quality equipment that help us ensure the chickens are killed humanely and then scalded and plucked gently.  We have a room that we have designed and dedicated specifically to processing our poultry.  We believe on-farm processing is the best way for these incredible birds to go from pasture to plate.  

To see the difference between a Prairie Ranger Chicken and a Cornish x chicken you can read this blog entry here.

Although we have sold many of the birds we have processed, we still have some available for sale.  If you are interested in buying some, you can visit our Pastured Poultry Order form and order from there.  This will be our LAST BATCH OF PASTURE RAISED chicken until next summer.  Since the grass and outdoors is essential to the high quality of our birds, we are only able to offer these for sale during the growing season.  It will be at least 20 weeks until we have more fresh Prairie Ranger chicken available -- so you can easily figure out how many chickens you need to buy to ensure you had enough for your family.  The chickens are packed in special BPA FREE shrinkwrap guaranteed to keep your chicken fresh for up to 6 months.  

 We have enjoyed raising the Prairie Ranger chickens and look forward to another season with them next year!

Sunday
Oct212012

Story of the Prairie Ranger - Week 5 (and 6)

Prairie Ranger at 44 days

I'll let the pictures of these beautiful healthy birds speak for themselves this week!.  Kansas City weather has been great for our pastures and also for pastured poultry.  The birds have grown tremendously on their diet of fresh grass and 100% organic grain. 

One very obvious observation, they eat about 1/3 less grain now that they are acclimated to our pastures than they did when they were in the brooder.  That is good for everyone!

Organically raised Pastured Poultry

Sunday
Oct072012

Story of the Prairie Ranger - Week 4

Giving chickens access to fresh grass twice a day is the "secret" to what makes our chicken so good!  When you raise a chicken outside it changes the product entirely!  This is very different than what is often labeled as "free range chickens."  Commercial store bought chicken labeled free range -- even organic free range -- is usually raised in a house with 10's of thousands of chickens with access to a dirt or gravel apron around the outside of the building.  This may add slightly to the welfare of the bird, but does not add any health benefit to the bird or later to the person eating the meat. On the contrary,  USDA studies have shown that chicken grown on grass has 50% less unhealthy fats than house raised chickens.  Other studies have shown there is tremendous differences in the omega-3-fatty acids between birds grown on pasture and in houses as well.  This is all due to the significant part of their diet coming from fresh grass and ample sunlight!  Our Prairie Rangers capitalize on these benefits better than any other of our birds because they are such voracious foragers and slow growers.

Week 4 (32 days to be exact)

Today was a big day for our Prairie Ranger chickens.  They were ready to go out on pasture.  Sometimes, we put our Prairie Ranger on pasture at three weeks of age, it just depends on how the birds have grown and the pasture and weather conditions (last night's freeze prompted us to wait until this week's nicer temps).  We loaded them from the brooder into their travel crates and then carted them out to the pasture that we chose for them.  There, they were put into the specially designed floorless pasture pens.  These allow us to keep the birds safe and secure, but also allows us to move them to new grass twice a day.  They will spend the next seven weeks enjoying the outdoor life on fresh new grass twice a day!

 

Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
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