Want to know more about how we do things here on the farm? Below are descriptions of key practices we follow at Westfold Farm.
Our birds spend 3-4 weeks in the brooder (depending on the season) to feather out and get ready for life on pasture. Then, they spend 4-6 weeks foraging in the grass of Texas rangeland with fresh air and sunshine. They are raised in open bottom, mobile range coops. We move them over fresh grass regularly; weather permitting, the coops are moved every 1-3 days depending on the age of the birds and quality of pasture. The industry definition for "pasture raised" differs significantly. Their idea of "pasture raised" is essentially synonymous with "outdoor access"—fixed structure barns with sides that roll up to provide "unlimited outdoor access". Barns filled with birds on bedding (concentrating their manure right under their feet) with roll up sides isn't what comes to mind when someone says “pasture raised”.
While our farm is not certified organic, our feed is! We buy certified organic feed from a local mill here in central Texas. It is also Non-GMO Project verified and Animal Welfare Approved.
No antibiotics, ever. Plain and simple. We use holistic preventative measures like oregano in the feed and vinegar in the water to promote healthy birds.
As mentioned above, our feed is certified organic and even Non GMO Project verified. The USDA organic standard bars GMOs. However, that can be confusing, so we include it here to eliminate any doubt.
If I am honest, I don't even know what hormones to give to chickens for growth. But even if I did, I wouldn't use them. You will never find artificial hormones growth hormones on our farm or in our chicken.
The commercial chicken that you buy in the grocery store grows from chick to 5-ish pounds in 4 to 5 weeks. The rapid growth can cause leg issues and a condition called "woody breast syndrome". Sounds delicious, right? We slow down that growth rate, raising birds that take 8 to 10 weeks to reach market weight. Not only is this healthier and more sustainable for the chickens, it results in flavor and texture that are unmatched.
Our birds are moved around the pasture in such a manner that their manure is evenly distributed across the pasture. No need for the effluent pools/lagoons that accompany indoor poultry houses. We also allow significant time for the pasture to regrow before the mobile range coop is returned to that location. The nitrogen rich manure amends the nitrogen deficient soil here in the Hill Country (soil tested every year) and promotes the growth of grass.
Remember that mad cow disease scare? That came about from feeding a ration made with sick cows back to cows. Our feed formulation includes zero animal by-products. It is common to see bones, feather, or especially fish meal included in poultry diets. Not on our farm.
We use a certified USDA processor here in central Texas to prepare our chicken. You can rest assured that a USDA meat inspector reviewed your chicken for any harmful conditions. We hope to one day have our own USDA processing facility here on farm.