Heritage poultry are breeds of chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese that have served our homesteads and communities for generations. Interested in raising your own? Contact us!
Heritage breeds are purebred and breed pure. They mate naturally, and grow and mature at a natural pace. They represent the only natural, non-GMO (genetically modified organism) sources of novel genetic material for the precariously positioned, mono-typic birds kept in industrial production facilities called CAFOs, or confined/concentrated animal feeding operations.
Often their names will include a place from which they originated, e.g., the Buff Orpington—one of our favorite laying hen breeds - was originated in Orpington, Kent, United Kingdom in the late 1800s).
How does Heritage Poultry taste?
In a word, "Fabulous!" Heritage poultry are adaptable, alert, self-reliant, hearty birds. When pastured or raised in free-range situations, the birds benefit from a diverse diet of bugs, seeds, and plants that produces meat that is juicy with a superb, rich flavor and texture, and eggs that have intense flavor, better integrity and color, less saturated fat, and more omega-3’s than CAFO eggs.
Why does Heritage Poultry cost more?
Well, as my dad would say, “you get what you pay for.” The Heritage Breeds are rare—some are close to extinction!—so purchasing fertile eggs, day-old chicks, or mature breeding stock is expensive.
Heritage poultry is typically produced on a smaller scale by independent farmers. And because the birds grow at a natural rate, it takes them 2 to 3 times longer to reach egg-production onset, or harvestable size.
Obtaining organically-certified rations can be a challenge depending upon where a farm is located, because few feed-prouction facilities are Organic-Certified. We are fortunate, Central Indiana Organics, Inc. is just a few miles away.
CAFO chickens grow unnaturally fast in miserable conditions.
These pastured Heritage turkeys grow and mate naturally.
What kind of poultry is sold in store?
Nearly all of the poultry sold in grocery stores, including products labeled “cage-free” or “organic,” come from industrial poultry producers. These industrial producers rely almost exclusively on three breeds—chicken for meat: the white Cornish cross; for white hen eggs: the white leghorn (once upon a time, this was a great bird); and for turkey: the broad-breasted white.
These birds have been bred for:
1. Maximum growth in minimal time.
2. Indoor survival in highly mechanized CAFO’s. Birds require a steady input of antibiotics to survive under such crowded, unnatural (and often filthy) conditions.
3. Complete uniformity and dependence on humans and machines.
The industrial birds are:
Produced via artificial insemination; they do not live long enough to mate naturally. Besides, meat birds grow so quickly and develop such large amounts of breast meat that their legs often break down before they reach maturity, thereby rendering them incapable of mating anyway!
Bland, but uniform, upon processing. This is because each type of bird receives basically the same feed, comprised largely of corn, soy, and various nutrients and additives. They typically never eat anything “fresh” or “alive” (flies and maggots don’t count!).
- Inexpensive due to the speed, precision, and regimentation with which they are produced.
- Probably miserable during their short, chaotic lives.
Where do we process our poultry?
We process much of our poultry on farm or we rely on "This Old Farm Meats and Processing, Inc., in Colfax, Indiana." They are kind to the animals they handle and our farm is part of their Growers’ Alliance. For more information, visit This Old Farm Meats and Processing, Inc.