If you’re familiar with the VG Meats team and our family farm in Simcoe, Ontario, you know that we’re huge proponents of doing things right. Not just doing things fast, or cheaply – doing them with care and integrity. We make sure that operations here on the farm are a reflection of our values, and that our products are raised ethically. We’ve spoken before about our cattle, and how they are raised using a careful, environmentally-friendly process. They’re treated well and it shows in the quality of our beef. The same thing can be said of all VG Meat products – including our chicken.
We didn’t always raise chickens, but in 2014, we introduced them to the farm. This was for several reasons. For starters, we wanted to offer our customers a wider range of products (beef, pork and poultry). Secondly, it was another way to make use of the natural environment on our farm. Raising chickens is actually beneficial to the environment in a lot of ways – here’s a quick read on why. We started with a heritage breed that was ugly and tough – not ideal! – and then found our match in the White Rock chicken breed. These birds are fantastic, and are what we’ll continue to raise and sell.
We decided to give our chickens GMO-free feed. It costs more, but we know that this is something that our customers value (and the VG team is happy to support). We raise them outdoors under a portable shelter that protects them from predators like coyotes. The shelter is moved onto new grass every day – something that aids the farm environment while keeping the chickens happy. This was inspired by the research and work of Joel Salatin, similarly to our cattle-raising methods. Our chickens aren’t confined to one coop or patch of dirt – they’re on healthy fields that they actually help nurture and grow. You’d be amazed how much compost a group of 60 birds can produce! This takes a bit of extra work, of course, but we believe it’s worth it.
In designing our chicken’s living space, we considered the recommendations of animal welfare expert Temple Grandin. Our chickens have room to move around and are able to move away from other birds at will. They are not tightly confined and are consistently given fresh feed and water while moving freely on fresh, green grass.
Though we may be biased, we feel that our methods raise a better tasting chicken. Our customers seem to agree – it’s a wildly popular product that gets rave reviews. We’re proud of our chicken, and just like our beef and pork, we know that we’re creating a quality product that’s been ethically produced. It’s not the easiest way to farm, but more importantly, it’s the right way.