Friday, December 20, 2013

Cold Spell at the Home-Farm

Welcome to winter!

This cold spell is putting a damper on production around here. Hope that we are ready for C.S.A. farm pick-up by Sat. Jan 4th 2014. Sign up using your email, and follow us here on our WEB- BLOG for updates and possible date changes. 

You can also check our calendar on our website 
or visit us on Facebook or Twitter. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Alternatives to Commercial-Chicken Breeds

We live in an era of information, and much of what we need to know, is a finger-tip, or click away. We still have questions and concerns about our food, and how to interpret between the lines of psychological marketing vs. truth in advertising. I hope this post helps, to clear a few things up.

Most farmers today, are banking on the general consumer, not being a farmer or rancher. Well, that is not too far fetched because, most people are not. Psychological marketing is very powerful, and it is designed to suck the consumer in, by making them feel good, based on rumor, what they found on the Google-Bible, or current "wordy" trends.

Let's steer clear of the "he said, she said",  for just one moment, and take a look at some documented facts.

According to Wikipedia: 

Domestication and modern breeding[edit]

The traditional poultry farming view of the domestication of the chicken is stated in Encyclopædia Britannica (2007): "Humans first domesticated chickens of Indian origin for the purpose of cockfighting in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Very little formal attention was given to egg or meat production... "[4]
Before the development of modern commercial meat breeds (cows, chickens, etc.) broilers consisted mostly of young male chickens (cockerels) which were culled from farm flocks. Pedigree breeding began around 1916.[5] Magazines for the poultry industry existed at this time.[5][6] A hybrid variety of chicken was produced from a cross of a male of a naturally double-breasted Cornish strain and a female of a tall, large-boned strain of white Plymouth Rocks.[7] This first attempt at a hybrid meat breed was introduced in the 1930s and became dominant in the 1960s. The original cross was plagued by problems of low fertility, slow growth , and disease susceptibility, and modern broilers have gradually become very different from the Cornish/Rock hybrid.

*I.M.O.: According to this information, the Cornish-Cross was developed, as a hybrid, and not part of the paleolithic era. Thus making the Cornish-Cross chicken not suitable for any diet steering clear of production-breed meat, especially for those on a G.E-Free, GMO-Free and  paleo-diet. 

According to Wikipedia: 

Industry structure[edit]

The broiler production process is very much an industrial one. There are several distinct components of the broiler supply chain.[17]

Primary breeding sector[edit]

The "primary breeding sector" consists of companies that breed pedigree stock. Pedigree stock ("pure line") is kept on high level biosecure farms. Their eggs are hatched in a special pedigree hatchery and their progeny then goes on to the great grandparent (GGP) and grandparent (GP) generations. These eggs would then go to a special GP hatchery to produce Parent Stock (PS) which passes to the production sector.[17]
In 2006, out of an estimated world population of 18 billion poultry, about 3% are breeding stock.[17] The US supplied about 1/4 of world GP stock.[17]
Worldwide, the primary sector produced 417 million parent stock (PS) per year.[18]
Numerous techniques are used to assess the pedigree stock. For example, birds might be examined with ultrasound or x-rays to study the shape of muscles and bones. The blood oxygen level is measured to determine cardiovascular health. The walking ability of pedigree candidates is observed and scored.[5]
The need for high levels of R&D spending prompted consolidation within the primary breeder industry. By the late 2000s only three sizable breeding groups[18] remained:
  • Aviagen (with the Ross, Arbor Acres, Indian River and Peterson brands)
  • Cobb-Vantress (with the Cobb, Avian, Sasso and Hybro brands), and
  • Groupe Grimaud (with the Hubbard and Grimaud Frere brands).
In the UK, 2 international firms supply about 90% of the parent stock.[19]
Due to the high levels of variation in the chicken genome, the industry has not yet reached biological limits to improved performance.[18]
The full chicken genome was published in Nature, in December 2004. Today, all primary breeding groups are investing heavily in genomics research. This research mostly focuses on understanding the function and effect of genes already present in the breeding population. Research into transgenics — removing genes or artificially moving genes from one individual or species to another — has fewer prospects of gaining favor among consumers.[18]

*I.M.O.: According to the above information, farmers continuing to raise commercial, hybrid, and genetically engineered breeds of chicken (which are patented), are promoting the continuation of genetic alteration of our food supply, (and at the same time, criticizing the companies which develop G.M.O-Foods).   Confusing....

According to Wikipedia:

Broiler welfare issues[edit]

Broiler chickens may develop several health or welfare issues as a result of selective breeding. Broiler chickens are bred to be very large to produce the most meat per animal. Broilers bred for fast growth have a high incidence of leg deformities because the large breast muscles cause distortions of the developing legs and pelvis and the birds cannot support their increased body weight. Therefore, they may become lame or suffer from broken legs. The added weight also puts a strain on their hearts and lungs and ascites can develop. In the UK, up to 19 million broilers die in their sheds from heart failure each year.[41]
Another issue with selective breeding of broilers is that the larger chickens have an increased appetite. The broiler chicks that are reared for meat are not usually feed-restricted as this would lengthen the time taken to reach slaughter weight. However, the parent birds which lay the eggs of the meat-producing birds also have an increased appetite and are feed-restricted to prevent them becoming overweight; this leads to behavioral issues in chronically hungry birds.
If the litter in the pen is not properly managed, it can become highly polluted with ammonia from the feces. This can damage the chickens’ eyes and respiratory systems, and because the heavier birds spend longer times resting, can cause painful burns on their legs (called hock burns) and foot ulcerations. 

Some broiler strains develop joint disorders, are very inactive, poor foragers, prone to predation, and are generally not suited to small free-range flocks. 
However, commercial free-range broiler flocks are now commonplace in Europe.
Broiler mortality in the U.S. in 2011 is estimated as 3.8%. However the 1925 figure was 18%.[14]

*I.M.O.: According to the above information, chickens are foragers, however the commercial broiler strains are POOR FORAGERS, and perform poorly on the free-range. Another point the the above makes, is that they are predisposed with health issues. Well, it stands to reason that a chicken predisposed to health issues, does not make a healthy bird, which in turn will not make a healthy, wholesome dinner. 

According to ATTRA (The National Sustainable Agriculture Service)
Most pastured poultry producers in North America raise the same Cornish-and-White-Rock-cross broilers used in conventional poultry production. These are the standard meat birds of the industry, and essentially all broilers produced commercially in North America are Cornish crosses. 
This has been true since meat became a primary focus for chicken genetics in the 1940sand confinement-rearing became the dominant form of production for the U.S. poultry industry. A 1950s contest, sponsored by the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, called “The Chicken of Tomorrow” encouraged the development of meatier birds. Cornish crosses became the birds of choice at that time. Since then the conventional poultry industry has genetically refined them for rapid growth, efficient feed conversion, broad-breastedness, limited feathering (for ease of plucking), and other traits considered desirable for rearing very large numbers of birds in confinement. Because of their rapid growth, they reach a market weight of five pounds (live weight) in six to seven weeks.

However, most pastured poultry producers  today use the Cornish crosses because they are readily available, not because they are ideally suited to rearing on pasture. Many of the characteristics that make the Cornish cross broiler strains good for industrial con-confinement production are not well-suited for alternative production systems. Many pastured poultry producers see the Cornish crosses as having weak legs, excessive rates of heart attacks, a high incidence of congestive heart failure (ascites), poor foraging ability, poor heat tolerance, and other liabilities when raised on pasture. While most producers value their rapid growth, others find it unnaturally fast. In most pasture-based production systems, Cornish crosses usually produce a five-pound bird in eight weeks. Keeping the birds longer than eight weeks and allowing them to get larger can contribute to even greater leg problems. While most pastured poultry producers in North America raise the same fast-growing Cornish-and White-Rock-cross broilers used in conventional confined production, many producers are interested in alternative genetic types that may be more suitable for outdoor production or for niche markets. 
If you believe there was misinformation printed from the articles posted above, please contact the writers, researchers, patent-owners, breeders, geneticists, and Wikipedia, to make those corrections.  
#1. Cornish Cross are Genetically Altered and Genetically Engineered
#2. Designed for rapid growth
#3. Not suitable for pasture, free-range or forage rearing
#4. Not suited for alternative production (organic, pastured, free-range, foraging etc.)
#5. Weak legs - excessive rates of heart attacks, high incidence of congestive heart failure, 
#6. Poor Foraging!!
#7. Poor heat tolerance
#8. And other liabilities, when raised on pasture.
#9. The original cross was plagued by problems of low fertility, slow growth , and disease susceptibility,
#10. The full chicken genome was published in Nature, in December 2004. Today, all primary breeding groups are investing heavily in genomics research. This research mostly focuses on understanding the function and effect of genes already present in the breeding population. Research into transgenics — removing genes or artificially moving genes from one individual or species to another — has fewer prospects of gaining favor among consumers.[18]

In Your Opinion? 
Is it  animal cruelty to grow these birds outside of their intended element?
Is it an ethical source of meat? 
Should it be considered a healthy bird to be selling as organic, or similar?
Is it a Paleo-diet chicken?
Is it something we should be feeding to our families, and paying top-dollar, because it is grown by a small family farmer vs. a Commercial farmer?

Here are some wonderful, old fashioned heritage breeds of chicken, that are multi-purpose, and dual purpose breeds, perfect for any farm or family choosing to grow free-range, foraged poultry, with access to pasture. These are some of the white feathered breeds that we slow-grow at Rainbow Ranch Farms. We grow many heritage breeds, and feather do not effect the quality of the meat LOL-LOL! 
Remember, these breeds will take longer to grow because they are REAL chickens! Just click on the photo for clear details. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How to choose organic chickens

How to choose wholesome, organic poultry.

Ask questions, such as:

A. What breeds of chicken do you grow?
You want to choose slow-grown, old fashioned, heritage breeds, vs. the fast-growing, commercial or production breeds. If the chicken is grown in less than 3 months, you could be robbing your family of high density, nutritional values.

Besides, fast-growing commercial breeds, are the same chickens that large poultry producers grow, and you are probably looking for wholesome, and nutritious chicken. 

Commercial, fast growing breeds, include Cornish-Rocks, Cornish Cross, Broilers, Freedom Rangers, Black Broilers, Red Broilers, and similar. (Label Rouge, is not a chicken, it is a method in which the birds are grown) 

Click to Check this out!

B. Are the chickens grown on a free-range?
You want to choose chickens that are free to forage, scratch, and range outdoors, vs. the chickens grown beneath chicken tractors, in cages, or barn-raised. 

It is especially important to know that the ranges, forage areas and foods that are being consumed by the birds, are 100% pesticide and herbicide-free! 

Remember, even Certified Organic feeds, are allowed to be grown with pesticides, herbicides, sprays etc. and the only difference is that they are OMRI, or C.O. approved. If you are looking for extremely-organic chicken, your best bet is to avoid chicken being  fed a sack-feed, containing any, and all grains, including Certified Organic grains. 

Click to Check this out!

C. What are chickens being fed? 
First, you want to hear, that they are grain-free. No corn, no soy, no wheat, no pesticides, no G.M.O's. 
Second, they are foraging from the ground, scratching for insects, grubs, worms, and native vegetation.
Third, that the foods are natural to the chicken digestive system, from the garden, native foraging, heirloom source, or U.S.D.A. Certified Organic.

Besides, if they are being fed, the same types of grains, as large producers are using, what is the difference, in nutrient quality? Even commercial producers use feed labeled, organic corn, organic soy, organic wheat, and we all know what a controversy, that carries. 

If you have a grain intolerance, be sure you are selecting, grain-free, foraged poultry.

Click to Check this out!

D. Are the chickens grown by sustainable means?
If the chickens do not mate naturally, or do not lay eggs, then it stands to reason, that they are not self-sustainable. If the chickens are not designed to lay eggs, they are not an old fashioned, heritage-breed, not self-sustainable. Not all heritage breeds are excellent layers, however, they should lay, in order to procreate, right?

E. Ask to see photos, videos, or take a tour.
Most farmers are proud to show you around. Farmers are hard working, and often work 15+ hours in a day, 7-days each week, without vacations, holidays or days-off. Be patient, understanding and respectful. 

F. Ask about medicated feeds, worming, and vaccines.
Most farmers start chicks with a medicated feed formula, and often the baby chicks are vaccinated, especially if the farmer is buying day-old chicks from hatcheries. 

If you are looking for a clean source of poultry, be sure that the farmer is not using vaccinated chicks, no worming medications, and that they are not being fed a medicated feed starter. 

G. Ask about parasite and disease prevention.
Ask the farmer, what measures they are taking to prevent disease in their flock, and  how they are treating parasites. The last thing you want, is to get a fast-growing bird, fed grains, that was butchered in someone's back yard, that may be contaminated with health problems, disease or parasites. One of the reasons that fast-growing commercial poultry breeds are often butchered at a U.S.D.A. inspected plant, is to ensure that these birds are healthy, and wholesome for human consumption. At a U.S.D.A. inspected processing plant, If the bird shows any signs of health problems, they are immediately discarded. 

Heritage breeds of chicken are hardy, and have excellent immune systems. They perform well as multi-purpose breeds, and that is one of the many reasons why our grandparents, grew these wholesome, healthy, and delicious birds. Heritage, old fashioned breeds of chicken are not prone to leg weakness, lung disorders,  parasites, or congestive heart failure, such as the fast-growing, commercial and production breeds, are often prone to.

H. Ask about health and safety protocols.

How do you ensure the customer, a safe, healthy and wholesome chicken?
you want to know that the poultry you are getting, has been examined by an experienced, knowledgeable person, in avian health, especially when the poultry is being processed without U.S.D.A. inspection. 

How do you ensure that the poultry is safe for human consumption?
You, as the customer, want reassurance that the poultry has been processed by standards, that meet or exceed, health and safety regulations. Customer reassurance is important, especially when buying poultry from a farm, without U.S.D.A. inspection. 

Small farms that process a limited amount of chicken, on-site, or outside, even indoors, are considered safe, by the Federal standards of poultry processing. 

Ethical and humane standards.
Chickens should be free to roam, in a safe and clean environment.
Chickens should molt at least once, prior to being processed. Twice is best.
Chickens should be handled carefully, with respect, and love.
Hens should have roosters, ranging along side them.
Hens should have a safe, clean place to lay eggs, set, and hatch their chicks.

Facts To Consider:
Chickens, turkeys, ducks, game birds and similar, are birds. They have crops, and not intended for pasture-based growing. Ruminant, pasture-based animals are cows, sheep, goats, and similar. 

Chickens are omnivores, and mostly carnivorous. They do not perform well on pasture based systems. Chickens are forage animals, that derived from the jungles. Ask yourself, are there pastures in the jungles? Answer: No.

Chickens are foragers, hunters, and prefer insects, bugs, grubs, worms and a diet comprised of native vegetation. You know the saying "eat local"? This mindful philosophy, applies to livestock too. 

1. Fast growing, commercial or production breeds are genetically altered to grow 1.0/lb each week, on a grain-based diet. This is true, even when the farmer is growing the birds outside, on a free-range, or on grass/lawn. Fast growing chickens,  are ready for processing between 4-6 weeks. 

Fast growing, commercial and production meat-breed chickens, are less flavorful, and low in nutrient density. Even when they are 6.0/lbs they are not mature, and neither is their body. In fact, they never have the chance to molt, and most often, the organs can not keep up with the fast growth, and the chickens suffer from leg weakness, heart failure, and lung problems. 

Cheap Chickens, click to check this out!

2. Slow grown, old fashioned, heritage breeds, are designed, by nature to grow without grains. They are ready for processing in 3.5-5 months. Slow grown, heritage chicken breeds, fed a clean and native diet, one that is appropriate for them, are high in nutrient density. 

3. The feeding of corn, wheat, soy and similar grains, can cause enteritis, and imbalance of pH in the digestion system. This includes all grains, such as natural, certified organic and conventional. Chickens do not produce enough amylase (digestive enzyme), to break down grains. These grains simply add cheap fat to the chicken, which can be added weight/fat, for profit purposes. 

Dare to compare, click to check this out!

Ingredients to avoid, like the plague, in all poultry feeds:
Flax Seeds> Click to  Check this out!
Fish Meal
Artificial Colour
Artificial Flavour
Artificial Bacteria
Artificial Digestive Enzymes
Useless Fillers

High Risk For GMO, click to check this out!

Our Weston A. Price Foundation, chapter leader, does not approve of fast growing, production breeds, nor the use of grains, in chicken feed. To speak directly with our Weston A. Price, Chapter leader, please join us, during our monthly Weston A. Price Stone Soup, event, and potluck. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rex-Rabbits: Pure-Breed

Pure-Breed REX-RABBITS: For show, exhibition, breeding, great pets, or delicious and nutritious "Low-Fat" meat. Now 4 Sale! 

Price: $45.00 ea. 
Contact: 1-760-868-6206

American Rabbit Breeders Association