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Free Range Birds - very disappointed

PoppiYYZ Oct 3, 2010 06:08 AM

My wife and I have been trying "free range" Chickens and Turkeys from local farmers and markets for over two years. We thought because we loved the chicken we've eaten in the Islands and rural Central / South America, we could expect the same texture and intense chicken flavor here in Canada (so I think we know what "real" chicken tastes like).

I can honestly say we have been devastated by the poor taste and ridiculous prices ($5 - $7/lb). At best the birds have been similar to the supermarket birds (although, understandably, a little tougher) and at worst they have been completely inedible due to a rank fishy taste. Our only explanation is that it has something to do with the feed.

Last Thanksgiving we paid $85 for a medium sized turkey ! It was fresh, juicy, and tasty, but we won't do it again at those prices.

We'll continue to try (and possibly raise our own next year) so I'd love to hear from anyone with good experiences and recommendations.

  1. Notorious P.I.G. Oct 3, 2010 07:07 AM

    Have you tried the chickens at Gasparros? Wondering what you think of those...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
      Googs Oct 3, 2010 08:05 AM

      Or Sanagan's Meat Locker?
      http://www.sanagansmeatlocker.com/

      -----
      Vince Gasparros
      857 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

      Sanagan's Meat Locker
      206 Baldwin St, Toronto M5T 1L8, Canada

    2. jiminy Oct 3, 2010 07:38 AM

      I recently had a chicken from Rowe farms...quite tasty but at almost twice the price of generic supermarket chickens not worth it

      1. e
        evansl Oct 3, 2010 07:57 AM

        That free range stuff is for suckers. It tastes no better than the regular stuff. As far as the claims that it tastes better, its in peoples' heads. Marketing studies show time and again that people rate products higher when they pay more for them.

        2 Replies
        1. re: evansl
          m
          mateo21 Oct 7, 2010 11:03 AM

          So people asking for a more just treatment of the animals they consume (e.g. not living in a 1x1x1 cage for their short life) are suckers?

          I can see your argument on taste -- chicken doesn't taste like much anyways, and I don't think free range birds are that much better. I can, however, justify spending a little more on chicken considering the animals involved.

          1. re: mateo21
            thew Dec 7, 2010 09:07 AM

            what an animal eats clearly influences what they taste like. whether the difference is enough to justify additional cost is a matter of personal taste.

        2. earthygoat Oct 3, 2010 08:34 AM

          I say "go for it, raise your own". We do and have been for many years. Very easy. Once you do raise them yourself, you will know why they cost so much more. But, you'll also know what they ate, where they grew and were slaughtered and how they were treated. You can order chicks in Ontario at your local farm supply store, along with the feed and equipment (waterer and feeder)

          I'd have to disagree that we are suckers, because we do notice a huge difference in our chickens to the store bought ones. The flavour and texture also depend on the breed. We have dual purpose, heritage, and regular inbred cornish cross (broilers) that you buy in the grocery store. Huge difference between all of them in terms of how they taste and how long it takes to raise them (8 weeks for broilers and at least 12 weeks for dual purpose/heritage birds), and their final size . Raising them on pasture brings a lot of other challenges as well, mainly through predation (we have guardian dogs, therefore no predation), and greater physical labour investment (exercise to us). However, when friends ask if they could buy a pastured, free range roasting chicken from us and I say "sure, it'll cost about $40", they back off. There's a reason why commercially farmed chicken is cheap and I don't like those reasons and will raise my own instead. Often, when having uninformed guests over for dinner, we'll buy grocery store chicken because we don't want to "waste" our wonderful chicken on people who won't respect it. Our neighbour friends didn't understand that at all, until they raised their own and now do the same thing.

          4 Replies
          1. re: earthygoat
            Googs Oct 3, 2010 08:48 AM

            I'd take a blind taste test challenge. Having recently been served battery cage chicken, I can say with certainty it tastes different once you've become accustomed to the good stuff. The flabbiness and poor skin quality are giveaways before you even sink your teeth into the funky smelling flesh.

            1. re: earthygoat
              EWSflash Oct 3, 2010 09:55 AM

              I used to have a little backyard laying flock (not for meat, they were pets- they had names), and the little brats used to pillage my garden and help themselves to all the herbs in addition to bugs (in fact I'm pretty sure they preferred the herbs to the bugs). I would shake my finger at them and tell them they'd better be laying herb-flavored eggs, but they never did- does that ever happen? The omega-3 fish meal idea was what got me thinking about whether that happened with eggs as well as meat.

              1. re: earthygoat
                k
                katiew Oct 4, 2010 04:17 PM

                I definitely notice the difference and think it's worth paying more for a pastured-raised free-range chicken. So, earthygoat, as I'm often in your area I would love to stop by your farm to purchase a chicken and/or eggs. Would you mind telling me where you are located or let me know how I can get into contact with you off the board. Thanks!

                1. re: katiew
                  earthygoat Oct 5, 2010 11:56 AM

                  I've updated my profile. I get in trouble from the Chowhound Team if I mention selling products from my farm.

              2. The Expulsive Oct 3, 2010 09:01 AM

                The best turkey I have had was from Carson Bay Farms in Prince Edward County, they raise them from the egg and keep them in samll groups - great eggs and beef as well
                http://www.carsonbayfarms.com/

                1. j
                  jack_sprat_ca Oct 3, 2010 09:07 AM

                  We raise our own chickens and they are free range pastured birds. No problem with predators as we have 2 llamas with our horses and they keep anything from the area. We don't go the omega 3 route with the feed as the additives are fish meal hence the fishy taste you can sometimes get.. We raise both egg layers and meat birds. Our meat birds get up to 10 ibs. Don't raise turkeys as we have a friend who does and we swap. He gets eggs and meat birds we get a fresh turkey. Works out well. We have 75 layers and 25 meat birds. Even have 15 blue egg laying Araucana chickens. We supply the local bank and post office with eggs and birds and with farm gate sales its steady and we even make some $$, however our eggs are $2.50 a doz and our birds average $1. a lb. Works well for us.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jack_sprat_ca
                    l
                    link_930 Dec 8, 2010 08:02 AM

                    Oh wow. I'm paying $5.50/dozen and close to $6/lb for the birds... Wish I lived closer!

                  2. c
                    Cathy Oct 3, 2010 09:13 AM

                    If you want good tasting birds, buy Kosher.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Cathy
                      EWSflash Oct 3, 2010 09:51 AM

                      Out of curiosity, are chickens raised for kosher meat raised any differently?

                      1. re: EWSflash
                        c
                        Cathy Oct 3, 2010 11:57 AM

                        Kosher does just mean the method of slaughter and preparation.

                        Every Kosher bird I have purchased has "free range" on the label. I know that Empire Kosher owns their own farms (to ensure quality and care of their birds) as well as to feed it with their own food.

                        http://www.empirekosher.com/zip.php?c...

                      2. re: Cathy
                        Googs Oct 3, 2010 03:01 PM

                        If you want good tasting meat of (almost) any kind, buy kosher.

                      3. w
                        wayne keyser Oct 3, 2010 01:19 PM

                        My understanding is that producers can put "free range" or "cage free" or a number of other titles on chickens that are raised little different than caged-for-life factory birds. The terms are almost meaningless (except to extract more of your money).

                        Wikipedia comments: "In the United States, USDA regulations ... indicate that the animal has been allowed access to the outside. The USDA regulations do not specify the quality or size of the outside range nor the duration of time an animal must have access to the outside."

                        On the other hand, if you buy them from farmers who actually raise them as you picture "free range chickens" being raised, you will indeed taste a difference.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: wayne keyser
                          MGZ Oct 5, 2010 05:30 AM

                          Sadly, the semantic shifts obscure the truth of what is being sold. Fowl that is permitted to roam and eat what it chooses will develop muscularly different than those who are permitted limited movement or territory. Both the varied diet and natural musculature will result in a flavor difference when eaten. Personally, I prefer it. I am sure others might not (I mean some people willingly order Domino's - right?).

                          At this moment in time, the term(s) pastured/pasture-raised seems to come closest to connoting what's preferable. I'm sure that money interests will lead to co-opting those in time. Ultimately, the only way to truly know what your getting is to know who raised it.

                          1. re: MGZ
                            PoppiYYZ Oct 5, 2010 06:07 AM

                            The worst chicken I've ever eaten was from a local farmer that I visited. The birds had a large fenced in area (to protect them from predators) and a shelter to settle for the night. They roamed around, scratched in the dirt, and ate bugs. Looked like a nice set up and definitely humane and free range.

                            The problem is the birds tasted terrible and had a rank fishy taste (and cost $5/lb!). I can only guess this is due to the feed since the birds breed was the same as the chickens produced commercially.

                            1. re: PoppiYYZ
                              MGZ Oct 5, 2010 07:59 AM

                              You've just exemplified my point. Know who raised it and you'll know what you're getting - good or bad.

                            2. re: MGZ
                              c
                              cleobeach Oct 5, 2010 08:14 AM

                              Before I started purchasing chickens from a local farm, I could have cared less about chicken in any form. Now, I actually look forward to cooking and eating chicken, I think the taste difference is incredible.

                            3. re: wayne keyser
                              scubadoo97 Oct 5, 2010 09:07 AM

                              They only need a open door to say the birds are free range.

                              1. re: wayne keyser
                                n
                                nextguy Oct 5, 2010 12:10 PM

                                I believe Canadian regulations are significantly different from American ones. The details for chickens not raised specifically free range are detailed here:

                                http://www.chicken.ca/DefaultSite/ind...

                                As far as I know, in Canada chickens of any type are not allowed to be raised in tiny cages. As far as free range or cage free goes, the problem as with anywhere else is that the term is not legally defined. If you are willing to pay the premium for these chickens it is best to purchase from a farm that you are familiar with or have researched.

                                Regarding taste, I think it comes down to what you are used to. I am almost embarrassed to say that when I first started eating fresh eggs from organic, free range chickens I thought they had a funny taste as I grew up and spent most of my adult life eating eggs of questionable age and origin from the grocery store. But the textural difference and the appearance was remarkable. Now I have trouble eating regular eggs.

                              2. 9
                                9lives Oct 4, 2010 04:46 PM

                                Have you tried Giannone? They're grown in Quebec and imported to high end markets in Boston. I magine you could find them locally. Free ranging, hormone free, natural diets. Not priced a whole lot more than a supermarket chicken..but far more flavorful.

                                1. dave_c Oct 5, 2010 08:35 AM

                                  I read this article about USDA organic chickens and how some producers will game the intent of free range/cage free by doing the minimum required for "access to the outside", while an honest producer will take the intent and do more.

                                  http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html...

                                  Moral of the story... Try to know how the poultry is raised.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: dave_c
                                    c
                                    cgarner Oct 6, 2010 07:58 AM

                                    Ok, so I know I’m going to sound like a hippie tree-hugger, but I’m a hippie tree hugger that likes to eat good food

                                    FIND and BEFRIEND your local farmers. Get to KNOW them and learn what they feed their livestock. ASK QUESTIONS!

                                    I visit a farm where I get my milk, eggs and meat, I know that the milk producing cows they have are different than what they have on the mass produced farm and their milk is of a lower butter fat content… which is why I couldn’t make butter from the cream that floats to the top

                                    I can SEE their birds they’re generally scratching around the parking lot on any given Saturday and I know that they’re supplemented with organic, vegetarian feed that they blend themselves. It’s got corn, wheat, barley oats, flax, peas… all really good and healthy things

                                    The pigs forage in the woods behind the pasture and they’re supplemented as well with healthy food stuff.

                                    They have a garden where they grow a lot of the vegetables that they use to supplement the pigs and the goats.
                                    The cows are grass fed only.

                                    I don’t care what you say, I can taste the difference in the food I eat compared to what we USED to eat. I’ve done side by side with my husband with whole roast chickens because he thought the same way and thought I was crazy that I’d pay a few dollars more for one chicken over the other.
                                    Once he tasted the difference he understood. He further understood when I took him to the farm and then even MORE SO when I showed him what conditions “super market” chickens are raised in.

                                    This may not be very “chow” of me, but I couldn’t in good conscience buy any more animal products or by-products from the super market, even IF I thought that they tasted better. Its inhumane and I can’t contribute to it.

                                    1. re: cgarner
                                      MandalayVA Oct 7, 2010 10:09 AM

                                      This. My husband, who can be a frustratingly picky eater at times, has been happily consuming the free-range chickens I've been purchasing through our local co-op. I can definitely taste the difference between these chickens and supermarket chickens, though I'll admit in a pinch I'll use Bell & Evans chicken parts since the chickens are treated better than in a Tyson plant.

                                  2. Will Owen Oct 6, 2010 05:27 PM

                                    I grew up in the 1940s and '50s, in a small Illinois town, and just about every chicken we ever ate came live from the poultry house - pullets for frying, hens for baking, of whatever breed (and there were many) happened to be in stock, usually Rhode Island Red or Plymouth Rock. Nobody in our family had learned the neck-snapping trick (or heard of it), but Dad's hatchet did the job just fine. These were not "organic" or any other thing special, just (then) ordinary farm fowl. The feathers and guts were a bit of a mess, but the birds tasted like chicken, especially the baked hens. The trimmings of those made a rich yellow broth for superlative gravy, made even more wonderful by the addition of chopped giblets plus whatever unborn eggs she'd been harboring. This last was so ordinary to me that I was astonished to read a long and wildly speculative discussion as to why Southerners like to put chopped boiled egg in their gravy!

                                    I'm still waiting for any commercially-available chicken to give me anywhere near that flavor. Empire Kosher game hens come close to the right meat flavor; a good (if hideously expensive) capon, when I can find or afford one, will give a broth that stirs the memory a bit. What I have not done yet is get my lazy butt down to one of the Asian live-poultry markets here in the L.A. area, where one can pick one's bird and have it handed over cleaned and plucked.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Will Owen
                                      PoppiYYZ Oct 7, 2010 06:06 AM

                                      Thanks Cathy and Will.

                                      That's two votes for Empire Kosher ! There is an Empire distributor listed in Canada and I'll try their birds next.

                                      1. re: PoppiYYZ
                                        Will Owen Oct 7, 2010 02:48 PM

                                        I was under the impression that Empire Kosher was based in Canada. I know their cute triangular latkes are made there (so inauthentic, but SO good!).

                                        1. re: Will Owen
                                          t
                                          Tonality666 Oct 8, 2010 09:37 AM

                                          Kosher birds are brined, which definitely ups the flavor quotient!

                                    2. s
                                      Sal Vanilla Oct 7, 2010 05:26 PM

                                      Hmm. I love a good mystery and this is one. If you are buying your birds from a local place, you should tell then about the fishy taste. That HAS to be what they are being fed. They may be feeding it fish meal. Maybe too much. It is a source of protein for chickens. You should tell them it was inedible to see if there might be some recompense.

                                      I have eaten more than my share of Caribbean birds. They are actually out roaming and foraging and tend IMO to be more lean and varied in taste depending on what they ate. Some of those flavors cannot be duplicated because they are not eating the same things (perhaps). Yours may be relying more on feed than the range. And, if you are like me, I ate a lot of those birds on a boat, out in the fresh air in a different state of mind and enjoyed having Kuna Indians deliver them neck and feet attached. I wonder if your chickens were enjoyed in the San Blas as well...?

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Sal Vanilla
                                        PoppiYYZ Oct 8, 2010 04:09 AM

                                        Thanks for the comments SV.

                                        On the first point, I did speak to two of the farmers where we bought free range chickens. The first was indignant with my comment and gave me the standard "you don't know what chicken tastes like" comment and dismissed me (the issue of attitude of some farmers is a whole other topic). The second farmer, whose birds were some of the better tasting, raised the theory of overfeeding omega 3 / fish meal bird feed.

                                        I've enjoyed real free range chicken a variety of was on my travels (although not yet in San Blas). Whether stewed or char grilled, the meat was leaner and slightly tougher, but more importantly, it had a stronger pleasant chicken flavor.

                                        1. re: PoppiYYZ
                                          s
                                          Sal Vanilla Oct 23, 2010 01:04 PM

                                          I asked around to other folks who raise their own chickies - universally the response was fishmeal. Sometimes they may do it inadvertantly. Like give them the omega 3 supp feed and then maybe it also has it in something else like a calcium supp feed.

                                          I went slack jawed reading your first farmer inquiry. Any person raising anything (radishes to sheep) worth a thing would not be in the least put off by that question. Oh the rude responses I still have going thru my mind. Most people raise food because they are passionate about it. They most assuredly would want to know their chickens taste off. I would. I might be slightly off kilter when you told me (from worry about what was up), but never ever snotty. Ask Chicken Person 2 for a stewing chicken. They are older birds. More lean, more flavorful.

                                          1. re: Sal Vanilla
                                            PoppiYYZ Oct 24, 2010 06:13 AM

                                            Thank you very much SV,

                                            I appreciate you taking the time to look into this and posting your findings. I've decided to keep trying free range (in an ongoing investigation as to whether we'll raise our own next year or not), but I'll be much more inquiring about practices, feed, and prices before buying.

                                      2. j
                                        jackie57 Oct 15, 2010 09:17 PM

                                        "free-range" is not a defined term. you might want to look it up. what you probably want is "pastured " chicken. i have bought that and yes it is different. much better, for my taste.
                                        it can be difficult to find, and i doubt you will see it in a supermarket. "free-range" can mean just that they have access to a tiny pen for a few hours a day. does not mean they are running around a field, like the pasture raised chickens are. big scam. the pastured chickens do cost more because of the real time and effort a small farmer puts into them. and they are worth it, in my opinion.

                                        1. ski_gpsy Dec 7, 2010 08:32 AM

                                          *I originally posted this on another thread that discussed organic and free range chicken vs. conventionally produced poultry, but I think it's more appropriate on this thread. Appologies for double posting but it was too late to delete from the other thread.

                                          THE TASTE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORGANIC VS. CONVENTIONALLY RAISED CHICKEN can be detected in a blind test because it comes NOT from chickens running around cage-free eating organic feed, but rather as a result of flavor enhancers used to mask the smell and taste changes caused by the growth hormones and antibiotics used in conventionally produced chicken.

                                          It used to take 9 months and 9 pounds of feed to raise a fryer. Now with the use of growth hormones a chicken can be ready for market in 6 months on 6 pounds of feed. But chickens carry leukosis (tumor causing viral infection) and the growth hormones cause the turmors to develop rapidly, so the birds are dosed with antibiotics to combat the leukosis. When heated, as in cooking, the antibiotics have a distinct smell, so the birds are then injected with a garlic based "flavor enhancer" to mask the chemical odor of the drugs. Therefore in a blind taste test the organic or "natural/no added hormones or antibiotics" chicken does taste very different than a bird containing hormones and antibiotics and therefore "flavor enhancers".

                                          BTW, the growth hormones used to rapidly mature poultry and animals can also accelerate tumor growth in humans. It is also believed to be the primary reason for the current increase of early onset puberty in American girls and boys (average age of beginning menstruation has dropped from 13 to 11 years old), and for the rise of sterility in American males.

                                          If you wish to avoid ingesting growth hormones in your poultry, meats, milk and dairy products (dairy cows given the growth hormones can have udder infection called mastitis) you don't need to buy only organic, you can buy "natural - no added hormones or antibiotics".

                                          Also, if you do buy conventionally produced chickens, buy WHOLE chickens and cook them yourself. When the birds are processed at slaughter, those without detectable tumors are left whole while birds with manifested tumors must be cut up in order to remove the tumors (which are used in pet foods - "chicken by products") and those birds are sold as pieces i.e. breasts, thighs etc. Restaurants typically buy low grade chicken pieces because in the preparation, any taste or smell from the drugs or flavor enhancers is usually masked by seasonings, sauces, coatings, etc.

                                          16 Replies
                                          1. re: ski_gpsy
                                            JuniorBalloon Dec 7, 2010 08:53 AM

                                            Could you cite a source for this?

                                            I have never done a taste test, but would like to. I may run my own at home. Not sure if I could taste the difference having had both, but I could certainly pick out the free range bird before they're cooked. They are always pinker with less bruising. The skin of the conventional birds is yellower, more bruising and they look like they've been through a battle.

                                            Thanks,
                                            jb

                                            1. re: ski_gpsy
                                              c
                                              cgarner Dec 7, 2010 09:03 AM

                                              ski_gpsy, I buy chicken, pork and beef locally from farmers who I've talked to and developed a rapport with.

                                              "no added hormones" is a redundant statement for chicken, as far as I know as of today, there are no FDA approved growth hormones for chickens.

                                              that's not to say that they're not pumped up full of antibiotics, however antibiotics are powerless to leukosis.

                                              The antibiotics are fed because of the cramped, dirty conditions in which the chickens are raised

                                              the ingredients in the feed that commercially produced chicken are fed, along with being caged and unable to move (thus expend energy, ie calories) are what causes the more rapid weight gain than a chicken raised on a farm, which is fed naturally and permitted to roam.

                                              1. re: cgarner
                                                ski_gpsy Dec 7, 2010 10:50 AM

                                                The June 2010 conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology addressing findings on the effects of dietary estrogens in chicken, beef and pork on individuals with hormone dependent cancers noted that;
                                                "Some may find the study results surprising with respect to chicken since currently there are no hormones approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for poultry. However, estrogen may be introduced in the form of soy protein and animal protein meal in chicken feed and possibly other sources. Based on the available evidence, breast cancer patients, survivors and those at high risk should consider avoiding beef and pork and limit their poultry consumption to organically grown birds..."

                                                While you are correct that there are no FDA "approved" hormones for chicken, poultry feed containing "animal protein meal" or by-products made from animals that WERE given growth hormone can be used in poultry production. The practice is in the opinion of many, a sneaky way around for the segment of the industry that wants to use steroids to pump up their birds, and their profits. So therefore the labeling on organic and natural/no hormones or antibiotics added poultry is NOT redundant when it states; "No added hormones".

                                                1. re: ski_gpsy
                                                  c
                                                  cgarner Dec 7, 2010 12:08 PM

                                                  soy protiens are not added hormones
                                                  by products of animal protein is not an added hormone either

                                                  here's some info for the gen pop from University of MN collective regarding animal by products and poultry feed
                                                  http://www.ansci.umn.edu/poultry/reso...

                                                  "no added hormones" on chicken IS redundant because the FDA says
                                                  NOTHING about the animal by products that are used to make feed
                                                  Directly from the FDA website:

                                                  NO HORMONES (pork or poultry):
                                                  Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. Therefore, the claim "no hormones added" cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says "Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones."

                                                  So I don't disagree with the the general idea of what you're trying to say, but when people perpetuate myths I think it dulls the real arguments.

                                                  1. re: cgarner
                                                    PoppiYYZ Dec 7, 2010 12:30 PM

                                                    With all due respect to ski_gypsy and cgarner, I think this thread is drifting off subject.

                                                    Clearly your points regarding food health are important, but the topic I raised was with respect to the flavor differences between commercial and free range produced birds. My continued experience has been that the free range birds available from my local producers are far too expensive (up to 10 times the cost of supermarket birds!), and some even have an offensive taste, likely from the omega 3 feed they use.

                                                    In any event, I've decided to try raising dual purpose hens for eggs (and ultimately soup) starting next spring. The chicken restored coop is ready and waiting.

                                                     
                                                    1. re: PoppiYYZ
                                                      s
                                                      Sal Vanilla Dec 7, 2010 12:48 PM

                                                      My gosh you could have quite a flock! You could do several different breeds to suit your purposes with that space. Here is a good round up on breeds: http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/AS/AS-518.pdf

                                                      But there are also some great sites for folks dabbling with a backyard flock.
                                                      http://www.backyardchickens.com/

                                                      Also from your library or additions to your library: There is a book by Storey on chicken raising and another and another called "City Flock". Also it looks like you are rural. You might be interested in a book called "Back to Basics". Such a good book to have on hand, but it will put ideas into your head.

                                                      Good luck with your flock. Post pics of you chickies if you think of it. I would love to chat about your experiences!

                                                      1. re: PoppiYYZ
                                                        c
                                                        cgarner Dec 8, 2010 04:57 AM

                                                        hi Poppi, You're right and I apologize for jacking your thread. How exciting to raise your own.
                                                        I wish I could do the same.

                                                        I spent a mint on a turkey this year, and had the same experience as you... it was an excellent bird, but I can also buy a fresh bird local bird from another location at a much cheaper price.

                                                    2. re: ski_gpsy
                                                      g
                                                      GrammyM Dec 7, 2010 02:26 PM

                                                      ski-gpsy, Two years ago my oncologist told me the same thing, hormone free chicken and beef only (we love Slanker's Grass Fed Beef). When I called my daughter in law in Arizona to tell her that we'd bring the turkey for Thanksgiving because I have to eat it organic she said their new pediatrician says hormone free meat and chicken only for growing children.

                                                      I know this thread is off track but I've learned much from this discussion. I'm going to call my daughter in law and ask her if she knows about growth hormone in dairy cow's milk! Obviously there's a lot of conflicting information on this issue but I'm going with the doctors, no chicken mc nuggets for the grandkids! Anyone got a good recipe for baked nuggets?

                                                      1. re: ski_gpsy
                                                        earthygoat Dec 7, 2010 04:53 PM

                                                        There are two things I think need to be clarified in chicken raising. I raise both heritage and new meat breeds. Your timing is wrong, you should be talking weeks not months. Most fryers are killed at 6-7 weeks and move up to roasters by 10 weeks. Today's meat chickens are ready in less than 2 months. My heritage chickens are butchered at 12-14 weeks, before reaching adult maturity. If I waited until they were 9 months old, they'd be tough stewing hens. The new meat breeds would probably be dead by 6 months because their hearts would have given out.

                                                        Second, meat birds are not raised in cages, ever. They are free run, but usually in crowded barns with less than a couple square feet of floor space each. Egg laying hens are raised in cages.

                                                        1. re: earthygoat
                                                          ski_gpsy Dec 7, 2010 05:06 PM

                                                          Earthygoat, so sorry - I meant WEEKS. My bad.

                                                          With regard to the how the meat birds are raised, it was another poster who said that commercially produced chickens are "caged and unable to move", which as you pointed out is incorrect.

                                                          1. re: earthygoat
                                                            s
                                                            Sal Vanilla Dec 8, 2010 10:19 AM

                                                            I love stewing hens. That is what we do with our old, non producing layers that I have not decided to place on the "no kill" list ( a considerable list my better half finds highly annoying). They are more flavorful than a meat chicky and are perfect for soups and stews. I make my husband kill them.

                                                            Sincerely,
                                                            Big Baby Who Names and Cuddles Her Chickens

                                                            1. re: Sal Vanilla
                                                              c
                                                              cgarner Dec 8, 2010 10:50 AM

                                                              Sal I have a story for you:

                                                              Once upon a time there was an Old Italian Immigrant man who liked to play cards at the Social Club with his Old Italian Immigrant friends.

                                                              This man was a very good card player and mainly he and his friends would play for drinks or a few dollars, but he was also a man of “principals” and if someone was unwise enough to bet over their heads, this Old Man would accept all kinds of goods and deeds to relieve the unfortunate card player of their debt… better to do that than to allow him to walk around ‘shamed’ because he owed you!

                                                              The Old Italian Immigrant man wound up taking a chicken as payment for a bet in a card game… not like the ones you find in the grocery store, all naked and wrapped in plastic… this was a real, living, breathing, pooping chicken!

                                                              The youngest grand daughter (who the old man gave the nick name “Queen of the Salamone’s”) Loved playing with the chicken, and she even learned how to “hypnotize” the chicken by tucking it’s head under it’s wing and the chicken would doze off to sleep.
                                                              The Chicken became quite attached to the Old Italian Immigrant Man too! He followed the old man around like a dog would follow around his owner. The chicken also helped to keep the bugs out of the garden. The old man set up a little ‘nest’ inside of a box in the shed and there the chicken stayed comfortably at night.

                                                              One Sunday afternoon, the youngest granddaughter came to the home of the Old Italian Immigrant man for Sunday Macaroni.

                                                              The Old Italian Immigrants wife was a spectacular cook and her red sauce would cook on low all day on the stove. It had all manner of meats simmering in the pot: pork country ribs, meat balls, sausage, veal, and chicken pieces.

                                                              After a dinner of macaroni, then meat and salad, then ricotta with a little cinnamon sugar on top, the Queen of the Salamone’s asked her Grandfather the Old Italian Immigrant if he would let the chicken out of the shed so that she could play with her friend the chicken.

                                                              The Old Italian Man’s eyes dimmed a bit as he had to break the sad news to his youngest grand daughter that the chicken was gone.
                                                              Immediately seizing upon an opportunity to hurt the most loved grand daughter, her two OLD evil sisters whipped up a horrible lie about the Old Italian Man killing the chicken and giving it to his wife to cook for that night’s dinner! The Queen of the Salamone’s BURST into tears, and could hardly believe that she had been fed her friend the chicken!

                                                              Alas, while it was a cruel joke (Queen’s Grandmother produced the grocery-store wrappers for the chicken used in the sauce) the chicken was gone. The Old Italian Man woke one morning that week to find the door to his shed open and the chicken missing.

                                                              It has been over thirty years since she learned how to hypnotize a chicken, but the Queen of the Salamone’s will never forget what a great pet that Chicken was… and therefore could probably never own her own chicken farm for anything other than just eggs.
                                                              (I, er I mean SHE has a hard time seeing the birds wandering around outside at the farm which she buys her chickens to this day)

                                                              (sorry I jacked again)

                                                              1. re: cgarner
                                                                s
                                                                Sal Vanilla Dec 9, 2010 12:11 PM

                                                                : )

                                                      2. re: ski_gpsy
                                                        pikawicca Dec 7, 2010 12:41 PM

                                                        Don't know where you are getting your misinformation, but the USDA does not allow the use of hormones in poultry production.

                                                        1. re: ski_gpsy
                                                          s
                                                          stilavictor Mar 10, 2011 01:15 PM

                                                          I do not buy commercially processed chicken for the same reason I don't eat foods processed with chemicals or allow my kids to drink diet soda.

                                                          Long ago I quit trusting the FDA and other government agencies that repeatedly tell me things like "No hormones ADDED, or NO side effects, or my favorite "'aspartame is safe for human consumption" etc

                                                          My feeling; Why risk it when healthier/organic is available?. If you doubt, just place an organic fryer next to a pale bloated, anemic looking commercially processed bird and you too will say "OMG what the hell do they do to these birds?" Just MHO.

                                                          1. re: stilavictor
                                                            PoppiYYZ Mar 11, 2011 05:59 AM

                                                            I attend many many organic farmer seminars and workshops. Not all "organic" products are created equal, but there are many fantastic dedicated organic farmers out there. Get to know your local producers and ask lots of questions. Read between the lines of the answers too.

                                                        2. d
                                                          DukeOfSuffolk Dec 7, 2010 12:10 PM

                                                          The best quality chicken I've ever cooked with is a Bell & Evans air-chilled bird @ $2-3/lb in terms of taste. I like them under 3.5lb and roasted under high heat, usually butterflied and sauted then put in the oven. Zuni cafe recipe is a great option (but certainly not the only one). I recommend looking for an air-chilled bird, free-range or not.

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