I’m a romantic and a foodie so that pretty much sums up my current obsession with heritage breeds of farm animals. Heritage breeds are the farm animals that would have been on the farms of the first settlers in America. They are hardy animals with a long history and natural bred qualities that help them endure. Heritage breeds are more disease resistant and have a better taste but they do not thrive in the mass market production of todays modern livestock farming. But who would thrive in those conditions? They are a disgrace just so that we can eat meat with EVERY MEAL on the cheap.
We do not need, nor do we deserve meat with every meal. We no longer appreciate the gift our food it is. It simply is there. We cover it in steak sauce and ketchup or we process it and add deadly preservatives to it. To keep prices down the conditions and life quality of the animals also have to go down.
Most of the meat you eat from supermarkets comes from animals who had no quality of life. They lived in terrible crowded conditions and probably spent the majority of their life in a state of stress which affects the health of the whole animal. Then they were pumped full of antibiotics to cover up all the symptoms and illness of the terrible treatment and then we eat them, well kind of, a lot of the time we throw them in the garbage too.
You aren’t going to throw your heritage pork in the garbage because there won’t be any left to. Also you will pay so much for it that you won’t want to waste it. But isn’t that how it should be? I mean an animal sacrificed its life so that you can eat it. Maybe if we pay a little more for our food we would be less likely to throw it out. There are people starving all over the world and we can’t learn to eat what we cook? That’s one of the reasons I love the life cycle of the farm so much. We don’t waste any food. If we don’t eat it one of the animals can will.
Heritage animals have to be raised on a much smaller scale then factory farming. They require space and the ability to forage and do the things that come naturally to them. They are bred naturally and raise their own young if possible. There is a real relationship between farmer and animal. To me this is the sacred part of farming. You are in trusted to take care of these animals while they are on this earth. We must have the integrity to treat them right. Just because they are going to die eventually doesn’t mean I do not engage with the animal or give it the best life possible it is all the more reason for me to.
Heritage breeds are also beautiful and most are endangered species. So why should we eat them? Well if they are being raised right, the strongest animals will be kept for breeding to continue a strong bloodline and the weaker animals are the ones you harvest. This is the balance of life. Eating them causes a demand for them which causes more people to raise them, causing more people to keep the strongest animals and continue on the species. Isn’t that beautiful?
Why are these animals endangered? Because there is no longer demand for them and so no one is raising them anymore. When you eat a turkey for Thanksgiving what you are most likely eating is called a Broad Breasted White. It has been bred so that you get maximum white breast meat on the cheap. The cost of this breeding? A weird looking fat chested bird that can’t fly due to its weight and cannot reproduce naturally. What are we doing to animals to supply our demand? We have removed ourselves so much from the farm so that we do not have to think about where our food comes from or how it was raised anymore.We do not hold ourselves responsible because we choose not to see it. We care about Cecil the lion but we do not care about the animals being inhumanely treated right here in America every day. We are a nation of hypocrites.
This has really become a passion of my heart. I am invested in making animals lives better and helping to educate people so that they can make better choices in how and what they eat. The only way to end the factory farming of animals is for the demand to go away. The only way that happens is when people like you and me to decide to support local farmers (or become local farmers!) providing alternatives instead. We have the power of demand let’s use it wisely.
So turkeys are going to be my next farm endeavor. Narragansett Turkeys to be exact. They are a beautiful heritage bird and I am excited to add another animal to the farm. My first heritage breed but hopefully not my last. I think I am going to start with 15 poults in May and they will be ready just in time for Thanksgiving. You can reserve your bird for $50.00, they will be 11-15lbs.
The dark meat on a Narragansett is darker and this turkey has a stronger turkey flavor then your average store bought bird. The breast is also smaller due to the fact that it is the natural size and the birds are able to bred naturally and raise their poults. My birds will roam the land eating all kinds of yummy things they find. This should be almost 90% of their diet but I will also give them an organic feed. Since I have read that store bought feed has low levels of arsenic.
Factory birds are fed arsenic in low levels because it makes them grow faster. The USDA will allow meat to be sold even if it contains arsenic with levels up to 0.5 ppm…yeah. Even though it is a carcinogen and know to cause health problems. Say what?!?!? Again I ask where is the integrity as we raise our food?
So who wants a delicious heritage bird this year? Let’s be choose animals that have lead a wonderful pasteurized life here on The Happy Chicken Farm and say no to factory birds together! Email me at TheHappyChickenFarm@gmail.com for more information…