Pastured Poultry Operation at the Broken 'B'

Typical Commercial Broiler Operation Photos taken from the Website of a Commercial Farm

Day Old Chicks Arrive

They are shown where the food and water are located and then carefully placed on clean litter. Each one is inspected to ensure they are healthy.

4 a.m. the morning the chicks arrive

Here's a picture from the Website of a Commercial hatchery here in Texas showing the care they take with their day old chicks: 

Spacing of the Day Old Chicks

While our brooder could handle as many as 250 chicks at a time, we only place 75-100 chicks in it at any given time. This leaves plenty of room for the chicks to freely move. The newspaper is removed once the chicks learn to identify their food.

Typical spacing with 75 chicks.

Since Commercial Broiler houses make their money based on the Quantity of the birds they turn out as opposed to the Quality of the individual birds, they often place as many as 70,000 chicks in a single house.

Typical conditions for Commercial Broiler houses  

Growing conditions or Grass vs. Old Feathers?

At two to three weeks of age, depending on weather conditions, our adolescent chicks are moved outdoors onto fresh grass. Each day they are moved to clean grass and provided un-medicated feed and both whole and cracked grains. The clean surroundings help keep the birds disease free.

 Two week old chicks in outside movable pen

The chicks in a standard poultry house are fed medicated feeds designed to try and keep disease in check in the overcrowded, less than sanitary conditions. These feeders are being filled for the incoming batch of chicks. Notice the piles of feathers left over from the last batch to pass through.

Commercial feeding setup

Conditions as birds near processing size

As the chickens near the age at which they will be processed, they still have free access to food and room to exercise

Since the chickens were crowded to begin with, conditions only get worse as the birds increase in size.

Processing Details

Once the birds have reach processing age and weight, which is around 8 weeks old and a carcass weighing approximately 4 pounds, we process the birds in a single day.  We begin early, carefully and humanely handling the birds to minimize stress. We emphasize cleanliness at each stage and inspect the birds as they are hand processed. Our operation is open to our customers and they are free to inspect and watch as we process. Heck, if you want to help process your own birds, you are more than welcome to pitch in under our guidance. We feel that being this close to the whole process helps provide a vital link to where our food comes from, and how it is produced.  When these birds reach processing age they are sent to a large processing plant. They are hung on a conveyor belt and electrocuted. Unfortunately this is not a fool proof method and some of the birds are still alive when they are put into the plucker. Once they are plucked, they are put back on an conveyor and a powerful vacuum is used to remove the entrails. This method often often results in broken bowls and allows excreta to contaminate the meat. The carcasses are then immersed in a cooling bath with chemicals designed to kill any pathogens that may be in the excreta on the birds. As the birds sit in this cooling bath the excreta collects in the bottom of the tank, making up as much as 10% of the volume. The birds must be left in this bath long enough to be sterilized and this is also long enough for the contaminated water to be absorbed into the flesh. 
We operate on a contract basis and tell our customers exactly what day their birds will be processed. The birds are processed and sitting in the customers refrigerator or freezer within a couple short hours. Since these birds will be shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles, they are flash frozen. There is no real way to tell how long they may have been sitting in the supermarket freezer waiting to be bought.
Why do we raise our animals on pasture? The health benefits are tremendous. The meat is leaner and lower in saturated fat. It also has from two to six times more of a type of "good" fat called "omega-3 fatty acids."  Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help prevent heart attacks, cancer and improve brain function.

Follow this link for more information on the benefits of grassfed animals.

If this comparison has caused you to wonder about what other conditions might exist in the Factory Farms that supply 95% of your food, we would recommend that you patronize local family farms where you can see for yourself the conditions under which the animals are raised.