The words "sustainable" and "pastured" (or free range) are buzz words today in the poultry industry. We believe they go hand in hand with Heritage poultry. One key element to a sustainable poultry operation is the ability to hatch your own baby chicks. To do this you need adults birds that are able to reproduce. Genetics of popular meat birds like the Cornish Corss, Freedom Ranger, Label Rouge, and Sex Link are owned by companies. This means corporations legally own the breeding stock and the test-tube reproduction of these birds. A local farmer raising these birds (on pasture or not) must order his birds from hatcheries and receive them shipped via US-Mail. That model places the farmer subject to the corporation's breeding, but also US postal service! Perhaps even more alarming is the fact all industrial turkey are incapable of self reproduction and require artificial insemination.
This is why on our farm we either hatch all our own baby chicks and turkeys or acquire them from local Heritage North Carolina breeders. We believe this is sustainable model to raise poultry and turkey.
At East of Eden we are also a fully pastured operation. The terms pastured, free range, and cage free are fairly unregulated terms and usually mean very little coming from the mouth of industry. When we use the term "pastured," we mean our layers, breeders, and broilers are allowed large amounts of pasture to forage, run, and fly. We DO NOT lock broiler chickens up in pasture coops that limit their movement, particularly flight. We believe this is closest to a natural habitat as possible and therefore is how a chicken should be raised.
The result of allowing our chickens plenty of their natural environment? We experience significantly fewere health problems and produce a tastier bird.
For a interesting look at nutritionally why a pastured chicken superior Eat Wild - Health Benefits