We have come to a decision to discontinue raising meat birds for sale. Broilers and layers were our bread and butter for a couple of years before we started raising pigs and expanding (and expanding!) our vegetable growing area.
But over the last several years things have changed.
The demand waned for awhile, but seems to be on the comeback.
Chicken was always a “cheap meat” at the grocery store. So pricing was an issue for a time. Consumers weren’t as eager to pay a premium price for clean chickens like they do for grass fed beef and pastured pork. But luckily, that seems to be changing.
Raising broilers is HARD WORK. This sounds silly because we all know farmers work hard. Farmers sweat, toil long hours, work most every day of the week more hours than we care to admit. But broilers take serious care. The Cornish cross breed doesn’t do well with heat, cold, wind or rain. They need protection, constant care and movement onto clean grass. Pasture raising keeps them much healthier than confinement houses but they are still susceptible to a number of fatal health issues. They are difficult to truly free range because the hawks will pick them off one after another. It can be done, still this isn’t the main reason we decided to stop raising them.
THE FINAL STRAW. Corn. We were certainly lucky to buy a property that had an organic feed mill 25 miles away. There are not many in the US. We wanted to eat chicken that was supplemented with certified organic feed. So we fed our broilers (the very expensive) organic feed. Then the big non-soy movement came and we purchased (the even more expensive) non-soy certified organic feed. Now it’s corn. Customers are saying they don’t want corn in the chicken’s diet. The talk is that there is really no totally NON-GMO corn because cross contamination is so pervasive. So consumers are now demanding “NO CORN” in the chicken’s diet. The organic feed contains organic corn which technically requires Non-GMO corn. Whether it has a trace or several traces of GMO in it I don’t know for certain. A good number of farmers raising meat birds are now using NON-Soy, NON-GMO feeds that don’t contain corn. But the grains in these feeds are raised conventionally with chemical fertilizers, insecticides, etc. Isn’t this the main reason we wanted organic fed to begin with?
Thanks to all our customers who purchased chicken from us over the years! Especially Boggy Creek Farm who sold and promoted our chickens that were fed organically in their farm stand.