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Kookoolan Farms: challenges and market offerings

Kookoolan(photo by Eric Moret)

I've written before about Kookoolan Farms, which sells their own pasture-raised, free-range, organically-grown and humanely slaughtered chickens at the Hillsdale Farmers Market. I really love what they are doing and hope to see more small poultry and livestock farms follow suit. (And their chickens are delicious!) I've been receiving the newsletter from the farm and thought I'd pass on their latest. (If you want to receive the newsletter, email them at kookoolan [at] gmail [dot] com.) It's an interesting look into the challenges of poultry farming:

The moral problems of farming. One of the facts of life of free-range poultry farming is predators. Fully one-third of our tiny five-acre farm is a riparian wilderness that we have never penetrated. A small creek runs through our property, and “the other side of the creek” is a 1.5-acre woodlot overrun by brambles, and located right in the Yamhill River Valley migratory bird path. We frequently hear coyotes at night, and we have seen turkey vultures, falcons and assorted raptors, raccoons, possums, and large feral cats, each of whom has had a free meal or two at our expense. We have respect for wildlife, and onesy-twosy kinds of losses, whether of meat chickens or egg-laying chickens, we can put up with. Really neither of us much has the stomach for trapping and shooting. Once we get to three or four losses with a similar pattern, then we have to declare war. This week again we have found a couple of egg-laying bird remains, which makes us vigilant but not quite on the warpath.

This week at market we’ll have:

  • “The usual”, our delicious, no-soy-fed, pastured fresh broiler chicken, mostly larger birds this week, $3.75 per pound. A typical 5-pound bird is about $18-$20.
  • Chicken breast, bone-in, skin-on for maximum flavor $6.00/pound
  • Chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on $5.00/pound
  • Chicken drumsticks $4.00/pound n Stock kit. For the best chicken stock ever, includes 1 back, 4 necks, and 4 feet. You add vegetables and herbs $2.00/kit
  • Chicken livers or chicken hearts. Organ meats from healthy, pasture-fed animals are delicious and healthy! $3.50/pound
  • Chicken necks and/or feet. Make stock, dim sum, ethnic specialties, or pamper your pet $2.00/pound
  • Four Muscovy breed ducks, fresh, whole, $6/pound
  • Four egg-laying breed roosters. This is a gourmet dark meat, similar in taste and texture to pheasant. Three are very small, probably 2-3 pounds. One is large, probably 4-ish pounds. $5/pound.
  • Farm-fresh pastured Eggs. We have an assortment of truly free-ranged hens on our farm, including Rhode Island Reds, Auracaunas, Astralorps, Barred Rocks, Golden Sex Links, and Silver- and Gold-Laced Wyandoths. Our large eggs contain a natural assortment of green, blue, brown and ivory-shelled eggs of various shapes. All have the rich, dark yolks that only come from free-ranged chickens on pasture. We have only about 25 dozens minus a few for the raccoons, $5 per dozen, limit one per family.

Next week (August 26) at market we also expect to have Guinea Hens and rabbits, reservations accepted. A couple weeks after that, we expect to have a very limited, one-time-only batch of Delaware breed heritage chickens, slaughtered at the older age of 12-14 weeks. Delaware chickens are a breed on the Slow Foods Ark of Good Taste (http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2003/05/ma_372_01.html).

All poultry raised on Kookoolan Farms is:

-- fed a custom feed ration mixed to our recipe containing only certified organic or certified non-GMO ingredients and containing NO SOY.

-- truly free-ranged and pasture-fed. Many studies have documented grass-fed meats to have Omega 3 fatty acid levels approaching those of fish at a fraction of the cost.

-- no antibiotics, no hormones, no medications. Unlike ALL commercial operations, we do not use low doses of antibiotics to accelerate growth.

-- birds are respectfully and humanely handled from Day 1.

-- broiler chickens are slaughtered at 8 weeks of age instead of the typical 5 weeks, resulting in a firmer-fleshed, more tasteful bird that holds its texture and tastes like chicken.

-- birds are naturally allowed to sleep at night and grow more slowly. Unlike ALL commercial operations, we do not use 24X7 artificial lighting to accelerate growth.

-- no stressful trucking to slaughter, no mechanized killing and processing, no electrical stun. Our birds are gently and respectfully hand-processed right on the farm where they were raised. “Estate Chickens.”

-- raised in small social groups of 200 for minimal stress on the birds. No factory farms, no confinement operation. Diestel and Rocky/Rosie chickens are processed at a rate of tens of thousands per day. Our current operation is at 200 chickens per week with ambitions to increase only to 500 chickens per week, maintaining ultra-premium, artisinal meat quality and gentle, hand-butchering practices.

-- Completely dressed-out and butchered, all viscera removed, and carcass trimmed and rinsed. Ready to cook.

-- Food miles traveled from our farm to Hillsdale Market: 35!

-- And of course: Inspected and Licensed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture!

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