Here at Black Sheep Meadows we truly believe that Pasture Raised Chicken means chickens out in the pasture and woods on their own and not cooped up in small confined tractors left in the scorching hot sun where temperatures could exceed 130°F.

Our chickens roam our property. This serves several purposes.

The chickens eat what they naturally should be eating, seeds, bugs, and various plants. They also control pests for us. All the flies, mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, slugs, grasshoppers, millipedes and more are taken care of free of charge allowing our garden to flourish. They not only fertilize our property allowing luscious vegetation to grow and feed more chickens, but they also produce the best eggs and meat you can dream of. In addition to the food they can conjure up for themselves in the pasture and in the woods, we also feed them a well balanced organic diet.

 In your quest for the best food for your dinner table, be wary of some misleading claims and confusing terminology. You may think that you are eating natural, organic, or free-range products when, in fact, you are not. Here is a list of some of these confusing terms:

“Natural local feed” could mean chemically produced grain, possibly even genetically modified grain.
“Grown without hormones or antibiotics” does not mean the grain is organic. The grain can still have pesticides and chemical fertilizers or even be genetically modified.
“Free range” means the chickens have access to the outside. However, it can also mean that a door from a large confinement house to a dirt yard is merely left open.
“Free roaming” means that the chickens are packed together on the floor of a large dust and ammonia filled confinement house.
“Pasture Fed” could also mean that these chickens are confined to a very small mobile unit with a very low metal roof in the hot baking sun.

Our animals are raised on pasture and woods and enjoy a much higher quality of life than those poor souls confined on a factory farm. Our chickens are able to move around freely and carry out their natural behaviors. This is impossible on a large industrial farm, where thousands of animals are crowded into confined facilities, often without access to fresh air or sunlight. This confinement breeds stressful conditions and is an ideal springboard for bacteria and other illnesses. The unfortunate result is that these factory farms routinely treat their animals with antibiotics and other medications in order to proactively prevent outbreaks of disease and parasite infestations. This has a massively negative impact on the chickens and the resulting consumer product.

A growing body of research indicates that pasture-raised meat and eggs are better for consumers’ health than factory produced foods. In addition to being lower in calories and total fat, pasture-raised foods have higher levels of vitamins and a healthier balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than conventional meat and dairy products. Free-range chickens have 21% less fat, 30% less saturated fat and 50% more vitamin A than their factory-farmed counterparts. (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education)

Keep in mind that the consistency, texture, color and flavors of food from pasture-raised animals differ from those of conventionally-produced foods. Pasture-raised chickens produce eggs with brighter, more orange-colored yolks than conventional eggs, and butter from pasture-raised cows tends to have a darker yellow color than the butter you get at the supermarket. Since pastured meats contain less fat, they must be cooked more slowly than conventional meats.

When you buy pastured meat, you are not only taking a step toward safeguarding your health, protecting the environment, and improving animal well being, you are also supporting sustainable farming and the farmers who choose to practice it. Small, local family farmers are invaluable members of the nation’s rural communities and play a key role as stewards of the land.

IMG_0295