Artisanal: Normally to raise more than 300 chickens you need quota (the 'license' to farm chicken). Last year, Chicken Farmers of Ontario introduced a new program called the Artisanal Chicken Program so that farmers could raise up to 3,000 to a higher standard (ex. free-range & organic). We are proud to be one of the first farms in this program!!
Variety: White-rock chickens are known for their meat. We raised ours until they were nice and big (about 5lbs dressed)...these are the little immature chickens you see at the deli counter in the grocery store.
Feed: Raised on a diet of nothing but certified organic feed. As a farmer you have 3 choices (conventional, non-GM or certified organic). Organic means that the grains are non-GM and grown without pesticides & chemicals.
Environment: At 4 weeks, when they have their adult feathers, they move out of the brooder building and on to a grassy pasture that we've fenced in and covered with netting (to protect them from hawks). In Ontario, to call something free-range you would be allowed 54,500 birds per acre (give or take a thousand...but at that point, who is counting??). In Europe it's 400 birds per acre and in Australia it's 600. We were working with some existing pastures, and so ours are 650 this year.
Slaughter: We hand-catch every bird and bring them to a federally inspected, family-owned and operated small processor in Omemee.
Cooling: Our birds are air-chilled. Chicken you buy in the grocery store has been water-chilled, soaking up an 'acceptable amount of water' in the process. Yes, we've all been buying chicken water. The only ingredient in our chicken is chicken.