Pastured poultry can have different meanings depending on who you talk to and this can be extremely confusing for customers and frustrating for farmers. Pastured poultry for us means that after our chicks spend 2-3 weeks feathering out in our brooders, they spend the rest of their lives on pasture. In our case, we raise our chickens in mobile range coops which are floorless high tunnels on skids. We move these coops every single day to fresh grass to ensure not only a fresh diet and clean environment for the birds, but also to fertilize the soil beneath. We feel that one of the most important parts of the term pastured poultry are the moves.
So we're in New England, what about winter? Here at WVF, we do not raise pastured poultry (aside from egg layers) in the colder months. The season for pastured poultry is short and the health and wellbeing of our animals is of utmost importance. Raising birds inside in the winter just so we can have fresh chicken does not seem right, nor would it taste as good! Just like making hay when the sun shines, we raise chickens and turkeys when the grass is growing, freezing the flavors of the season so we can enjoy well-raised chicken all year long.
As a small farm, we struggle with the Big Ag price structure and the competition of the huge poultry companies that are now raising their version of pastured poultry. Yes, Perdue is now raising pastured poultry and it will get tougher and tougher to compete. What it all comes down to is knowing and trusting your farmer, creating resilient communities, and putting food dollars into small farms without ties to Big Ag. So from here on out, you are going to see a lot more pastured poultry on the market and you'll see more and more food delivery services. Just know that unless they're the farmers selling to you, they are middlemen. Yes, these companies may be supporting small farmers, but please do your research on how well they're paying their contracted farmers, who their farmers are, and what their markup is. Remember, shopping directly with your farmer ensures that your dollars actually stay in your community and allow for farms to pay their employees more and give back to their small towns.
So we thank you for sticking around with all of the other options you have! We have tried to make it as easy as possible to shop with us and support the other small, local producers that we carry in our store. From shipping (like Butcherbox but small and family owned) to our drop off and home delivery, we hope you see the benefits to shopping small and local!