Genuine Faux Farm
How We Raise Our Birds
Birds are given a base diet mixed by a local producer (Frantzen Farms) who has organic certification. Their diet is supplemented by foraging and organic produce that is no longer fit for sale or distribution. Foraging works well with the Freedom Ranger meat bird hybrid. Unlike most Cornish X hybrids, these birds are bred for outdoor systems that provide birds with opportunities to find clover, insects and other treats on their own in pasture.
We do not hatch our own chicks, we are a 'finishing' operation only at this point. Chicks have been purchased through the JM Hatchery and Hoover's Hatchery. We raise the Freedom Ranger chickens for meat. While they do not grow as quickly, nor as large as the standard Cornish X meat bird, we are pleased with their willingness to roam within their pasture. We believe that these birds taste better and have more consistent meat quality from the whole bird. In general, these birds appear to stay healthy and thrive in our system of growing.
Free Range/Day Range
We do not keep our birds in a 'chicken tractor' during the day, instead we use a 'day range' system. They are out in a pasture with fenced borders to keep them out of our gardens and to slow down potential predators. At night, we make sure birds go into one of our portable shelters to protect them from owls and other predators. We move the birds to a new pasture area periodically to maintain the quality of the grass/clover crop for their benefit.
Chicks are an exception. To keep them warm and safe, they reside in a wooden, boxed in area with heat lamps. As they grow, we increase their space until they have some 'real' feathers. At the point where their feathers will provide them with some temperature moderation ability, we put them into the day range system.
If you would like, we have a couple of bog posts that share some of our observations about our broilers in a humorous light. The posts, Bird Brains and Bird Brains II probably should include the warning that a pun or two was sighted somewhere in them.
Birds are processed at Martzahn's Farm in Greene, Iowa. This facility is State of Iowa inspected, thus we are eligible to retail or sell to institutions if we so desire. Ardie runs an efficient and clean operation and we have always been pleased with their work. We have never encountered a pinfeather on birds they have processed and we are pleased to use them as our poultry processor. If you would like an example of what we do during a 'processing' day, you can read about how we did things in 2009 on our blog with the post titled "A Day at the Park".
Our birds are sold directly to the consumer and are first come, first served. If you wish to reserve a bird with us, please contact us via email or in writing. Do not asssume you have a reserved bird unless you receive a reply from us! At this time, we do not ask that you place a deposit with us to reserve the birds. But, we do ask that you work with us to take possession of the bird soon after processing. We ask that you pay at the point of delivery. We also ask that you honor your commitment with us so we can continue to take reservations without deposits.
Most of our chickens are processed as whole chickens. We also process younger,smaller chickens. Weight is typically between 3 lbs and 6 lbs, with an average between 4.5 and 5 pounds. If you wish to have a chicken cut up into frying pieces, we can include this in our order to the processor. Price is usually $1 more than a whole chicken.
We sell our birds locally - which we are defining as (roughly) a 50 mile radius of our home. This includes areas such as Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Waverly, Sumner, Oelwein, New Hampton, etc. If you live outside this radius we won't say no if you see us at a farmers' market and we have chickens available. And, of course, friends and family have special exemptions. But, we also encourage you to find a way to locate and encourage a grower that is local to you.
Preparing Our Meat Birds
Chickens raised at our farm are leaner than those raised in confinement. If you purchase a 4 pound chicken from us, you will typically find a higher ratio of the weight is useful meat. Our processed birds are not injected with a saline solution. Because they are leaner and do not have this brine included, we recommend that you cook your birds at a slightly lower temperature for a longer period of time to maintain a tender and moist texture. One of our favorite techniques is to use a crock pot on low heat for the entire day or medium for a half day. Please remember that the giblets are placed inside the cavity of the bird and are in a plastic bag. You will want to remove this bag before placing the bird into your cooking appliance.
Interested in chickens? Email us to inquire. We already have a waiting list started!
The Genuine Faux Farm participated in Practical Farmers of Iowa's Cooperator Program in 2009 by participating in a broiler research project. Our spring flock consisted of 100 Freedom Rangers and 100 Black Broilers. Bird weights and food amounts were tracked and processed weights were recorded. A summary of our results follow (more detail will be placed elsewhere on our site):
Some GFF Broiler History
At one point, we put this information out every season and maintainted it here. Rather than lose the information, we will keep it here at the bottom of the page. We feel it can give everyone a perspective as to where we've been and where we are going. In short, we are often amazed by how far we've come and by the difficulties we have pushed through. If you like this sort of thing, enjoy. Otherwise, we'll just enjoy it ourselves.
all rights reserved
b&w photos copyright L.E.Bartel 2005
all others by GFF