In Search Of...

It all began because I was so dissatisfied with the chicken breed raised for meat in this country. It has been bred to grow so quickly that it's muscle growth outpaces the growth of its bones and organs leaving it very vulnerable to health problems. Temple Grandin, the well known animal behaviorist responsible for improving conditions for livestock across the country, has called this bird's very genetics inhumane. Most disturbing for me is that it no longer even acts like a real chicken.

In the last couple years hatcheries have begun to offer alternative breeds that will perform better on pasture. In my quest for a better bird I decided to run a trial raising a representative of each type of alternative side by side on pasture. I asked two other farms to join me in raising the same breeds in their pastured poultry systems which are different from the method we use on this farm. The USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant program is providing partial funding for this project.

By the end of the season I hope to know whether an alternative breed will work in a pasture system and which breed is the best match for our farm.