Friday, December 28, 2012

Heritage-Breeds vs. Meat-Breeds

Chicago News has an informative article regarding the importance of breeding, and growing old fashioned, heritage-breeds of livestock.

"Let's Talk Chicken"

I get many emails weekly, asking advice and information regarding grain-free feeding, free-ranging, disease control, nutritional values, proper livestock feeding, pest control, livestock husbandry, sustainability, and permaculture farming methods. Unfortunately, I can not reply to each and every email.  Thank goodness for our blog!

Today, I will briefly address some of the differences between commercial meat-breed chickens vs. heritage, multi-purpose chickens, behaviors and nutritional values. 

Extinction is bad for the environment, and can create a devastating ecological imbalance. We strive to work closely with ecological balance, and Rainbow Ranch Farms has a sincere interest in helping to preserve old fashioned, American farming traditions,  heritage breeds, and healing the earth.

Commercial and production "meat-chickens", are by design, a fast-growing breed, which can grow to about 10.0lbs in 10 weeks. They thrive on cheap grains, and weight-gain can be controlled and measured. 

Most meat-production breeds of chicken, do not mate naturally, and may require artificial insemination, they do not make good egg layers nor do they go broody. This could be partly due to the extensive genetic-development, deep-generational cross-breeding, or genetic alteration; where as some of the inherit, native instincts and traits, have been altered, removed, or damaged, during the process of development. 

The popular, Cornish Cross meat-bird: 
Originally the Cornish-X, was a cross-breed of two heritage breeds. One being the White Rock, the other, the White English Cornish. Over the years, these crosses have been developed into new varieties of commercial, meat-breeds, many of which are patented.

Due to the popularity of production meat-breeds, the English Cornish, originally used for the production of the Cornish-X, has become borderline extinct. There are only a few, specialty breeders, across the globe who breed and grow the White, Standard, English Cornish today, and you can get a good quality breeding trio, for appx. $2800.00- $4200.00 USD.

Some of the Benefits of Growing Cornish-X Production Breeds: 
(Commercial/Industrialized/Genetically Re-Developed & Patented Meat-Chicken Breeds)

They can grow 1.0lb each week, from time of hatch, when fed a diet comprised of corn, soy, wheat, fish-meal, flax & fillers.

They develop extra-large breasts, very quickly, on grain-feeding, making them an ideal bird, for the commercial poultry industry. 

These birds grow so fast, that it makes for a very profitable business.

On average, they can gain 1.0lb of weight for every 2.0lbs of grain-feeding. depending on feed quality, housing and environment. 

They are very cheap to grow, in fact you can buy a day old chick, grow and process them, for as low as under $1.00 per pound, in just under 6 weeks. WOW!!


Some of the Issues When Growing Cornish-X Production Breeds:

They do not produce well on a grain-free diet
They are sensitive to environmental exposure, and may require antibiotics to survive, in the outdoors
They grow so fast, that sometimes, their legs do not keep up with their body weight, and can become crippled
Their bodies grow very big, very fast, which can sometimes result in congestive heart failure
They can be grown on a free-range, however, they do not, free-range
They can be grown on a pasture, or patch of grass, however, they do not pasture, nor graze
They are poor foragers, and prefer to have their grains, and water within a short distance


Other names for commercial, industrialized, meat-breeds, may include:

Red Broilers
Black Broilers
Cornish Game Hens (regular commercial breeds of chicken, butchered at 2-3 weeks)
White Broilers
Freedom Rangers


Many people today, are developing new interest in agriculture, and many are geared toward small scale agriculture. Due to the rise in small-farm popularity, many farmers are growing the production breeds, vs. heritage breeds. 

There is very little, nutritional difference between a commercial/production breed being grown by a small scale farmer, and a large scale farmer. Primarily due to the breed being grown, and the similar grains being fed.

 It may be safer to purchase commercial, production-breeds grown by a large scale farmer, available at your local grocery store, or farmers market, since that poultry is federally  inspected, by food safety specialists, and cheaper. 

The reason why I write this, is because, those types of birds are commercial, meat-breeds, and require a very specialized care. In most cases they require vaccines, antibiotic treatment, or even medication, on a regular basis. They are not designed for the free-range, and they are not designed for full exposure to nature's elements, and when a person forces the meat, production-breeds into elements not conducive for their proper growth, it can be inhumane, and problems may occur, on a genetic level, internally, and externally, and if the grower does not know the breed well enough to know that it may require medical attention, or needs to be culled, it could stand to reason that you, as a consumer, may be consuming a not so wholesome chicken. 

For details on the proper care, for growing commercial or industrialized, meat, production breeds of chicken, consult with the following leading experts:

 Zacky Farms - Foster farms.  (Take note of Foster Farms, antibiotic and temperature controlled environment, located at bottom of page, under "Foster Farms And The Use of Antibiotics".

To learn more about the leading developers of commercial or industrialized breeds, of production, meat-chickens, consult with the world's leading experts: Aviagen

Please Don't Shoot The Messenger, Yikes. I have included several references, resources, and links, for your convenience. Please take the time to review them. 




By encouraging small-scale farmers to grow heritage-breeds, it helps to set them apart from the industrialized poultry industry. Growing heritage or old fashioned chicken breeds is beneficial to the environment, and inline with a true, small, sustainable farming operation.  The small scale farmer would be growing a healthy bird, for the dinner table, and  producing healthy eggs, which are loaded with nutritional values (depending on feed, access to fresh-air, and room to free-range). It could help in preserving old fashioned, farming traditions, and help to prevent old fashioned, heritage poultry breeds , from extinction

Some of the Benefits of Growing Heritage-Breeds:

They make excellent foragers
They thrive on the free-range
They are not vegetarians, and can help keep invasive insects out of your garden
They can be grown by extremely organic methods, to include Grain-Free
They are naturally mating
They are egg layers
They brood, their own eggs, and in many cases, the eggs they steal from neighboring nests
They are multi-purpose...
A. Egg-layers
B. Chick hatchers & brooders
C. Delicious when stewed, roasted, baked, broiled, and make for an excellent soup

Because heritage breeds take longer to grow, their body can focus on building strong muscle tone, bone density, and a healthy nervous system. They have awesome immune systems, and by allowing the bird to grow as nature intended, you get a healthier, stronger and more productive bird.

Some of the Issues When Growing Heritage-Breeds:

They take longer to grow than production meat-breeds
They are more challenging to catch
They will perch on anything, thus poop, anywhere
They may peck you, when you try to collect their clutch
They do not grow in a uniform, or predictable rate
They consume more food, to gain weight
They burn a lot of calories, meaning they must eat more
They will never, ever weigh,  7.0lbs in 7 weeks
They will not produce a double breast, (a wide breast, maybe), but not a double breast
They are very expensive to grow, in fact you can buy a day old chick, grow and process them, for as low as $6.00 per pound. If you choose to use certified organic fodder, or bedding, the price will go up, and if you choose to use a grain-free feeding the price goes up, again. It could cost as much as $10.50 per pound to produce a heritage-breed chicken, to 5.0lbs, (in as little as 7 months) on a grain-free, certified organic diet. 


Free-range poultry and eggs, from heritage-breed chickens, fed a grain-free, and certified organic diet, comprised of native vegetation, wholesome insects, and species-specific  fodder, contain... 

a. high-nutritional levels of beta-carotene
b. high-nutritional levels of cartenoids
c. appx. 10-12% less fat
d. appx. 34-36% less cholesterol
e. appx. 66-68% more Vit-A
f. appx. triple the Vit-E values
g. appx. 2.5 to 3 times more Omega 3's
when compared to commercial, production breeds, lot-fed, chicken-tractor grown, caged, or grain-fed alternatives.



Resources & References:
Grains and Mycotoxins
Poultry Science Journals
Michael Pollan
Edible Austin Magazine
Healthy Homesteading
International Center For Poultry
Jakobs Bowl
Chicago News
Ref: 1
Ref: 2
Ref: 3
Ref: 4
Ref: 5
Ref: 6
Ref: 7
Ref: 8
Ref: 9
Prof. McPherson
Eat Wild Nutritional Facts
Mother Earth News
Free-Range Eggs: Data
Meat-Bird Developers
Foster Farms
I want to hear from you! share your thoughts, opinions, and ideas. 

Blessings to you all, and a very **happy new year**

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Heritage Turkeys & Breeding

New blood lines, of heritage turkeys, arrived on Wednesday, September 26th, from Olde Reminisce Farms.

Two Narragansett Toms, and one Blue Slate, Tom. These gorgeous birds, where grown by Olde Reminisce Farms. Lori brought them to Rainbow Ranch Farms, and they will be part of our heritage-turkey, breed-improvement program.

When Lori drove up, she opened the kennel door, and we pulled the Tom's out, one by, one and we encouraged them to fly out.

Last night they were roosting along the cross-fencing, and this morning, they were ranging with the boars, pecking through the boar corrals, for goodies.

They are beautiful, healthy, and we thank Lori Enright, of Olde Reminisce Farms, for donating these beautiful birds to our breeding program.

Here, at Rainbow Ranch Farms, we breed, hatch, grow and produce a variety of heritage turkeys.

Spanish Black - Narragansett - Blue Slate - Bourbon Red - White Holland - Midget White - Chocolate - Royal Palm - Rio Grande Wild - Eastern Wild, and our own heritage-specialty farm breed: ®Ξενία’s Turkeys™

To learn about, what's new, at Olde Reminisce Farms, Please visit the official O.R.F. website.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Photo Shoot, Today!

Photo Shoot, and Interview, with DITLO, Today! Day In The Life Of..

Bruce Kramer, Kramer Creative Group, will be spending a day with Rainbow Ranch Farms and Kelley Beef.

Today we do our morning home-farm chores, process poultry, wrangle/load/haul cattle, and more.. Thanks to our wonderful volunteers, we will have plenty of help, today!

Working closely with great farmers, and ranchers, brings us many blessings. Today we will be working along side, Lori Enright of Olde Reminisce Farms (President of the American Kunekune Breeders Association). We will be working with Mary, of Mary's Goat Farm, and Danite C. We are looking forward to having a productive day!

Thank you all! With the participation of all our great farm members, volunteers, participants, fellow farmers, and ranchers, all things are possible!!

Thank you, until next time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

August Garden-Harvest 2012

Heirloom harvests from the Rainbow Ranch Farms, Hugel-Kulture, 2012 garden. A complimentary and healthy side dish to any of our heritage-breed, grass-fed/finished, delicious and nutritious meats, and eggs.

The Rainbow Ranch Farms, permaculture farming operation, requires livestock, especially since our objective is to be as sustainable, as possible.

We harvest seeds from our heirloom produce, and store them in air tight containers, for the next planting. When we need additional seeds, or new starter plants, we source from the most local, reputable, respected, and trusted, heirloom and/or Certified Organic, Non-G.M.O. sources. Sources include: Winnetka Farms, Ardenwoods Edibles, our family, and farm members.

Our garden is for all of us, our family, farm members, and livestock. The livestock rotate days in the garden, which also features a variety of delicious, palatable, and highly nutritious grasses (please see earlier posts). Cattle, hogs, chickens, lambs, turkeys and ducks, all enjoy, healthy benefits from the fruits of nature's delights.

Rainbow Ranch Farms garden-bounties are offered with compliments and love, to our family, and farm members. We do not grow enough for the general public, or to sell, at this time. The garden is a result of livestock integration, hard working farm members, volunteers, participants and Dennis Kelley. Thank you!

Dennis is now planning the next garden varieties. Although we work several farm and ranch locations, Dennis takes care of the garden, every single morning, and often, late evenings too. The Hugel-Kulture garden is a priority, not only to all of us, but to the livestock who depend on the nutritious foods also.

If you are growing a garden, indoor/outdoor herb garden, patio garden, etc. without any livestock; we suggest contacting our dear friend, Annie Haven, of Authentic Haven Brand, Moo-Tea. With moo-tea, your garden will flourish with exceptional results, and beauty, without the need of space, or the care-taking of livestock. Authentic Haven brand is also excellent for sprouting! it provides added nutritional value to each seed, thus accelerating the sprouting process, and helping the sprouts develop full nutritional values.
Photo is from

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


For more details, please visit our facebook page or come by the farm, to say "hello".

Sow (T.D)farrowing on 2-25-12

Mary, laying fresh bedding.

Sow (H-BLK)farrowing on 2-27-12.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feb. 14th 2012 - Pasture Rotation System For Heritage Cattle

The day began at 5:20am on Tuesday, February 14th 2012. Moving cattle, discussing the rotational pasture grid for 2012, making fence repairs, selecting ready-cattle (for processing) and preparing for pasture upgrades.

Thank you! American Kunekune Breeders Association, Satterfield Family, Moore Family & Dairy, Olde Reminisce Farms, Lori Enright, Jim Enright, John B. Sherry G. Marco S. Danite C. June N. and Tom N.

Old fashioned, pastured and grass fed, grass finished, Heritage beef!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Starting a small scale cattle operation:

We get many calls and inquiries about our cattle management and breeding protocols. We are always happy to help a small start-up operation.

It can be very challenging indeed to select the right breeds for your operation, learning about A.I. or natural covering, learning when a cow or heifer is in season, about calving, and so much more… it can be overwhelming, but please do not let that damper your great adventure into cattle ranching. It is easy, fun and very rewarding for folks of all ages, yes, children too.

Make your breed selections and decide what kind of cattle operation fits your needs.

Do you want a dairy cow? Do you want to grow your own beef? Do you want a little of both?

Do you want beautiful cattle for showcasing?

Decide if you want a bull on-site for natural covering or if you prefer A.I.(artificial insemination)

Have a good plan in place for feeding or pasture (living grass) grazing

Provide 24hr access to clean water

Make time to spend with your animals

Select a seasoned and experienced bull for a first time heifer. Be certain that bone structures and breed are similar as to avoid any injuries from breeding or a challenging pregnancy or difficulty calving.

We never breed yearlings, but that is just what we prefer.

Decide in advance, what you are going to do with a bull calf and what you are going to do with a heifer calf. It is always good to have a short term and long term plan.

We keep the calves with their mothers, we simply do things naturally. There are several choices for you to select from.

Develop a list of reliable and honest veterinarians, experienced breeders, log-time ranchers, helpful neighbors, and knowledgeable friends to be a phone call away, at a moment’s notice. Always be proud to ask questions, ask for advice, and ask for help! ***Never let an animal suffer due to your pride, that is not acceptable.***

Did you know that calves will stay on teat for up-to 1 whole year, if the mother allows?
Each individual cow is different and it is important to know your herd and their behaviors.

PROBLEMS: Things happen, even if everything you do is perfect. Do not let this discourage you. Be ready for any possible complications arising in your herd, such as injuries, sickness, dry-coat, loss of appetite, know the signs of copper deficiency etc.


You do not have to be a veterinarian to cattle ranch, you do not need to be a geneticist to selectively breed. Do not be misled by garbage being pumped out onto the internet by so-called experts.

True ranching, industry professionals are always ready, glad and willing to help each other. You will rarely hear them speak above your head (very rude), and they are always ready and eager to participate in helping you succeed.

We know from our many years of experience and knowledge that the most important thing is to have a strong love, true respect and understanding of all the animals you are working with.

It is not rocket science! But it can and will get very-very expensive. We manage our cattle expenses 1-2 years in advance. This method works for us, since we operate a private C.S.A. program.

Our pure breed and registered cattle have been grown by children for 4-h projects and F.F.A with tremendous success, and we are very proud.

Our cattle have gone into the show circuit by both children and adults, (even adults new to the showcasing circuit): with great success.

Our cattle end up on our dinner plate, and they are most delicious and nutritious.

Whatever your ideas or desires, we are happy to share our knowledge, education, experience and resources with you, to help you get started. We will put you in touch with honest and reliable industry professionals and veterinarians, field processors, butchers, ranchers and more, to get your list started.

If you are looking for small (dual purpose) breeds, heritage cattle, we have purebred Australian Herefords, American Lowlines (not hybrid), True Heritage, lowline Angus and Irish Dexters. We can help you put together a very nice starter herd.

If you are looking for hybrid “meat class” cattle, we can put you in touch with some of our wonderful rancher-friends that specialize in Certified Red Angus, Black Angus and White Angus, as well as various English and French breeds.

Some of our friends have been family ranchers for 3 and 4 consecutive generations and that is impressive, and we love them!