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Is it possible to buy pastured chickens and eggs within a 2-hr drive of the GTA?

Just thinking about the coming spring and wondered if it is possible to buy pasture raised chickens and eggs within 2-hrs of the GTA. I did some research on the the net but couldn't really find anything. Anyone have any details?

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  1. Check out the chickens at Lady and Son Butchery on Queen (at Jones). She might be able to tell you where and how they were raised. She had wild-hunted turkey over Christmas, so you never know.

    4 Replies
    1. re: singe

      I'm not 100% certain, but I believe it is EXTREMELY illegal to sell any kind of wild hunted game in Ontario.

      1. re: embee

        There is farmed wild turkey in Ontario. The species was re-introduced by MNR with stock from MI 30 years ago, and now it can be farmed. I'm told it still tastes like turkey!

        1. re: jayt90

          Perhaps that's what singe was referring to, but he mentioned "wild-hunted" turkey in his post.

        2. re: embee

          I think it is in some cases OK to sell wild-hunted game. You can buy native hunted caribou and muskox at some times of the year....as long as it is inspected and butchered at a federally inspected facility. Check out Whitehouse meats in St.L. Mrkt.

      2. Oh, and I almost forgot...eggs. I don't know about pastured or not, but I think the very best eggs for sale in the city come from Fresh From the Farm on Donlands. They taste the closest to the ones from my own chickens when I was a kid.

        1. Contact Robt. Huber at www.beefconnections.ca when you are planning a day trip to Mt.Forest. He has completely free-run dressed chickens and eggs, but not always available. A couple of km. away is Frey's Custom Meats, with most Mennonite specialties. Word of mouth for religious reasons.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jayt90

            Huber's free-ranged pastured birds will be available in the fall. A box is $60 delivered.
            (3 x 6.5lb.) I saw his chickens last summer, and they are very healthy, and have the run of the place.

          2. Since you asked for within 2 hours of the GTA I would recommend going out to the KW area. There are a ton of Mennonite farmers that have signs on the road for fresh eggs. Don't know about chickens though. Although if going out there go on a market day and stop in and visit the poultry farmer at St. Jacobs Market.

            1 Reply
            1. re: camp1980

              in itself, the farmer being mennonite does not guarantee free range chicken or eggs. there is wide range of farming among mennonites in the area, and only the old order mennonites can be counted on eschewing much of the modern farming practices. most farmers in the regions who are mennonite are conventional farmers, which means their eggs might be fresh (as in gathered today) but likely have come from commercial-style chicken barns.

            2. What's the difference between "pastured" and free range?

              5 Replies
              1. re: crawfish

                I don't think there is a difference. But try finding eggs from free range chickens. I think they're out there, but very difficult to find. I'm talking about the eggs with the super golden yolks that my grandmother (and Michael Pollan in the "Omnivore's Dillema) talks about.

                I also want to find try Free Range chickens, not just the eggs.

                "Free Run" eggs are available, but that's not the same as free range. AFAIK, all Free Run means is that the chickens are allowed a certain amount of outdoor time (sometimes very little) in an area that is little more than a cage without a roof. I want the ones that are allowed to graze and peck on the pasture, eating grasses and insects, not just grains.

                1. re: acd123

                  There is a real difference: pastured birds can move about or go inside, but free range merely gets them out of cages but still in the barn. I think it's a technicality
                  that large producers can exploit, for eggs and for fresh or frozen chicken. Frankly, you have to read between the lines on the packaging, or else ask a lot of questions.

                  1. re: acd123

                    Then you can get free range chickens and eggs at the St Lawrence north market on Saturdays.

                    1. re: crawfish

                      I'm there every Saturday. Which vendor has them????? Harlan Whatever's eggs are free range?

                      1. re: acd123

                        It is. They are. Fresh from the chicken to you.

                2. Good grief , I have to comment ! Firstly, the question had nothing to do with "wild birds " or hunting. LOL. Ok , pastured chickens are simply chickens that have some time out in the grass and hay fields near the coup. As much time as possible, but 1. you can't just let chickens free range all the time or all day unattended as you would lose all chickens to vermin, hawks, foxes, racoons, etc. Unless, under a travelling pen, moveable across the field daily, the birds would be lost pretty fast left unguarded. So, there are lots of small farms close to TO with "pastured chickens " , but no chicken is out all day and night everyday. At the very least they are penned in at night, and realistically unless one has a trained chicken tending dog or something, then the birds must be penned when not attended by someone close by. Also, chickens inside the coup / barn pretty much ALL winter as they won't go out in below zero temps, they would get frost biten quickly if left out by force, and won't lay any eggs much below zero anyway, and the eggs will freeze making them useless, .. so GTA winter pasture chickens don't exist except if they they get veggy scraps as a substitute livign indoors! On top of all that, all chickens have to get a certain amount of grain feed as it contains the calcium, grit, and food balance in order for the chickens to produce eggs daily and be healthy. The grasses add to the taste and the colour of the eggs, but it is not a complete diet on it's own.
                  To find pasture fed chickens you'll have to look or signs on the country roads, visit the farmers feed coops, and ask around. Small farms are not likely to publically advertise their eggs or birds for consumption much as only large large operations have to money to be regulated and liscenced - quite unfortunate as you will only find the purity and quality know as " pasture chickens and eggs " from the small farm. Sincerely, local GTA ( Whitchurch - Stouffville ) chicken farmer... with pasture chickens!

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: lolli5

                    So the following recent post is incorrect?

                    "About this time of year my wife and I were driving home along a back road on a Saturday and spotted an "Eggs" sign at the entrance to a farm. We were out of eggs so turned up the drive. "Look at the cat." my wife said, and I answered, "How many cats can you find in this picture?" This was an Amish farm. I'd guess that there were about twenty spotted cats thoroughly camouflaged in the barnyard against the snow.

                    There were also chickens running about as well. Most of them were in the barn though, where the family kept its stash of eggs. When we cracked them later, the yolks stood up like golf balls and were a bright reddish orange - so deep a colour that many would toss them. The taste was the best we encountered since moving to Bruce county.

                    Loose chickens forage very well in winter."

                    Lolli5: Can you give me an example or two of roads I should look on?

                    1. re: lolli5

                      I beg to differ. We keep chickens. Granted, not commercially, but still we usually have about 25 to 30 birds at any given time. They are fully pastured. Of course they go into a coop at night - that's where they sleep and they are protected from predators. But first thing in the morning, the door is opened and the chickens go out to forage all day. In the evening they all just naturally go back into the coop of their own free will - it's instinct for them to do so. No chicken-herding dogs are needed. They do wander quite freely all over our yard and do considerable damage to my flowerbeds, but I have fenced my veggie garden to protect that at least. In late fall, egg production begins to drop dramatically. There are always a hen or two that continue to lay an egg every day so we are never 100% without eggs, however. For some extremely strange reason, they began to start laying again with a vengeance around the end of December and we're getting well over a dozen eggs every single day right now. So yes, they do continue to lay eggs through the cold months. And if the weather is halfway not horrible, they will also come outside to wander around and scratch at any bare dirt. They always have grain-based feed available because even in the summer they need more food than they can find on their own. And at this time of year I'll occasionally pick up a box of vegetable trimmings from the local supermarket to give them some greens - as well as all the veggie scraps from my kitchen.

                      I sincerely wish I could supply all Hounds with my fresh eggs. They really spoil you for anything else. It's not entirely the freshness either - I'm quite sure it's about the pasturing. The more varied the diet of the hen, the more flavourful the eggs. And when they're getting lots of greens the yolks are neon. We sell excess eggs to our friends.

                      1. re: Nyleve

                        Can I be your friend too, Nyleve?

                        1. re: acd123

                          They're $2 a dozen. I have 4 dozen in the house right now. Heh heh heh.

                      2. re: lolli5

                        Hi there Lolli5. Do you sell your chickens by any chance? Or know anyone you can refer me to who sells their pastured birds?

                        1. re: Spobot

                          Chickens raised for egg production are a different breed than chickens for meat. You could buy retired egg producers, but they would be tough, good only for stock and stew.

                      3. Check out Stoddart Family Farm...google it. They have the same mobile chicken contraption used by the Salatin farm. Take a look at their site. Looks good.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: singe

                          These prices are high for farm gate.