Look around your local grocery store and you will see a variety of meats available. Some certified organic, some free range, some natural and some just plain conventional. There is nothing coventional about our chickens and that is why they taste different and why you need to prepare them a little bit differently then store bought chickens. Let's first talk about what makes John Henry's chickens different. Our chickens live their lives without cages, crates and crowding. My husband built our chickens the most amazing home, in our barn, to protect them at night, shelter from the elements and provide them plenty of space to spread out. Our chicks arrive in the mail and from their very first moments on the farm each one is carefully introduced to the food and water. I actually hold each chick to show it where it can go to find food and water. They also have great nipple waters. These nipples keep their bedding dry and give them access to fresh, cool, clean water all day long. It is a bright yellow nipple with a gravity pin in it that keeps the water from coming out until the chick pecks at the pin. Chickens are pretty cool and can do amazing things with their beaks. They somehow manage to wiggle the pin just right and the perfect amount of water makes it's way right into their beak.
We also have very special LED lights for our chicks when they are in the barn. These lights are specially designed for poultry vision. When they are set to Full Spectrum with enhanced red light, that gets the birds up and moving around when they are chicks. The lights dim to blue to calm them at night and help them rest. Even though we can hardly tell the difference in the light changes the chickens notices it and immediately respond in the morning and at night.
As soon as the birds grow past the chick stage, they start losing the cute yellow fuzz and start growing in the adult feathers. At that time the doors can be opened up and they are ready to venture outside. Our farm is centered around our animals being outside. All of our animals and especially our chickens are free to roam. We have lots of land and we know our animals are happy to be able to explore it. Every morning we take the feeders outside and they come running to gobble up the morning bugs.
Not only are we pasture focused but we also want to enrich our chickens outside environment by planting some grasses and shrubs that they like to peck at. We also have some special trees and awnings to offer shade from the hot sun. Our birds love roaming outside. We raise our chickens the way God made them to live and eat.
A great model for chicken care is the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating program run by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP).
GAP sets minimum standards of animal welfare that all producers, from Step 1 to 5+, must meet. All chickens must be handled in a manner that does not cause injury. No chicken may be physically altered. Among the physical alterations routinely performed on chickens that are banned by GAP are:
* Beak trimming: The incredibly painful partial amputation of the beak, which contains more nerve endings than our finger tips.
* Dubbing: Cutting off the chicken's comb (the fleshy crest on the top pf the chickens head) with a pair of scissors, without anesthetics or analgesics.
* Caponization: Castration that is performed without any pain relief and requires cutting into the abdomen to access the testes. (Caponization is banned in the E.U.).
* De-Spurring: Removal of the spur bud on the back of the male's leg using a heated wire.
* Toe trimming: Cutting off toes to prevent growth of nails or spurs.
We do NOT preform any physical alterations on our birds. for more information on this program visit GAP.
If you haven't had a chance to cook one of our Fryers or Roasters using a receipe on our Recipe page will ensure an amazing chicken. You won't be able to go back to a conventional chicken when you taste the difference in our chickens. Because of the differences in our chickens it is very important to use a recipe like the one in our Recipe Corner, feel free to tweak it to make it your own but keep the basic cooking method the same to insure you have a juicy tender dinner.