Facts about grocery store chicken:
-raised indoors with minimal room. Standards are around 3/4 square foot of floor space per bird but can be less. That's a square of 9"x9" at most.
-birds are fed medicated feed (including a coccidiostat) and medications (antibiotics) are also given in their water. This is designed to lessen illness and disease in such confined quarters.
-arsenic is added to the feed to boost bird growth. Being that it is a poison, it causes them to retain fluid, translating into a heavier carcass at processing time.
-formaldehyde is also added to the feed. This is supposedly to lengthen it's shelf life and to prevent an outbreak of bird flu.
-birds are regularly vaccinated
-birds never see the daylight. They spend their entire lives indoors under lights and in controlled temperatures.
-medications and drugs are only removed 48 hours before processing at which time apple cider vinegar is added to the drinking water to assist with 'flushing' the tissues of any residues. This is completely legal and allows that bird to be sold as 'antibiotic free'.
-birds are often crated for transportation for processing by a vacuum type machine which sucks them up through a hose and unloads them into crates on a trailer of a semi. They are loaded in advance to account for transportation time to the plant. Birds can go without water and food for an extensive period of time.
-birds are transported on open trailers stacked high with individual crates which are stocked densely, no matter the weather.
-carcasses go through a bleach water bath after harvesting at the plant. This is intended to help lessen the bacteria on the meat.
-meat is cut and packaged in an assembly line type of method being handled by numerous people before being frozen for transport. Yes, every package of meat sold a fresh in the stores was once frozen. It has to be to allow time for the extended transport to various store locations. It is then thawed at the store and advertised as fresh.
-before packaging, meats are regularly injected with solutions comprised of saline among other things. This liquid accounts for up to 15% of the package weight.
Our pastured chicken:
-raised indoors until 3-4 weeks old, depending on weather conditions. Once feathered, they live outdoors, in portable tractors, on the grass. Our stocking rate is 2 square feet of floor space per bird and houses are regularly moved to fresh ground.
-our feeds are free from all medications and drugs. They receive a custom herbal blend in their drinking water while in the brooder to boost immunity and give them a strong start. Once moved to pasture, they are given fresh water with apple cider vinegar twice a day.
-our feeds are free from arsenic. Our birds are healthy and do not carry loads of fluid in their bodies.
-our birds are never vaccinated
-our feeds are free from formaldehyde as there are no animal by-products in the mix.
-our tractors provide shade, protection from predators and the elements with unlimited access to sunshine. Each tractor has 32 square feet of rooftop covered in chicken wire allowing loads of sun to pour in. Birds can choose to be in the sun or in the shade as the remaining 64' of each tractor is covered with a tin roof. The sides are covered with wire but open to allow for optimal air flow. Wind blocks are added over a portion during the winter to help the birds retain heat in the colder weather.
-we have no withdrawal period for medications as we do not use any.
-birds are given fresh water the evening before processing to make sure they stay hydrated. They are then crated by hand the morning of processing, loaded into crates and moved to our processing area which is just a few hundred feet away.
-after being harvested by hand, the carcasses are rinsed with clean, cold water and put into an ice bath to allow the meat to relax and properly chill. There is no bleach or vinegar rinse as the processing area is kept clean and there is no need.
-after chilling 24 hours, our meat is then cut by hand and immediately packaged in either shrink bags or it is vacuum sealed. After labelling, it is refrigerated until it is placed in the cooler with ice for transport to the markets. Whatever does not sell is placed into our freezer upon our return home from the market.
-the meat we advertise as fresh was indeed harvested that particular week. Once our meat is frozen, it remains so until it is sold.
-our meats are never injected with any solution. Each package contains pure, unadulterated meat.
Compare the two pictures below. The first we took in a grocery store. Note that the package plainly states it "contains up to 15% chicken broth, sea salt and natural flavorings." The second picture is of our chicken thighs. List of ingredients "chicken thighs".