While industrial birds laze near their roost, heritage chickens are curious, adventurous animals that energetically explore the huge pastures.
The chickens spend each day foraging for grass, seeds, bugs, and other nutritious pasture goodies.
Whether they’re taking dust baths, pecking, or climbing through the shrubs, heritage chickens are always interacting with each other and their environment.
When night falls, the chickens can return to their open-ended hoop house at will for a long, calm night of rest.
To get the best chickens, you have to start with the right birds and the right methods. Emmer & Co.® thinks deeply about how our birds are born and how they're raised. How they live and how they die. We structure all of our operations with their welfare in mind, because we respect the sustenance they provide.
Truly, we care for our chickens and the longevity of their species.
There are a lot of products out there claiming to be both good for you and good for the animal. "Antibiotic free." "Pasture raised." "Organic." "Humane." What these labels mean is often unclear, and they certainly don't always mean the bird has had the best quality of life.
But when you buy heritage, you can rest assured that you're getting chicken the way nature intended. And here's why:
A heritage bird must fit four specific requirements designated by The Livestock Conservancy. All of Emmer & Co.'s chickens are certified standard bred by the American Poultry Association (APA)—the oldest agriculture organization in the U.S. The APA defined its original standard breeds back in 1873. If you see a bird labeled as heritage without the APA seal, it doesn't meet the first requirement of heritage.
Emmer & Co. chickens are not full grown until they have lived no less than 112 days. Because our chickens have never been genetically manipulated for fast growth and unnaturally large breasts, they are smaller than conventional chickens with leaner breasts and well developed legs.
It's pretty simple. What's good for the birds is good for you. Heritage poultry—chickens that aren't bred for rapid growth —is more nutritious and better quality. You're eating the best-for-you chicken and the best-tasting chicken at the same time. Talk about two birds.
60% less fat, 50% less cholesterol, 35% less calories, more protein and less sodium than any factory birds. No hormones. No antibiotics. No filler fluid. These are the healthiest chickens you can eat.
Source: Organic Prairie
Source: Kansas State University
"Chickens have several serious welfare problems that come from bad genetics and can be fixed only with good genetics." Temple Grandin Animal-welfare science visionary and livestock expert
Today's factory birds have been genetically manipulated for fast growth and unnatural weight. Regardless of whether a chicken is organic, pasture raised, free range or treated like royalty, non-heritage genetics will still cause it to suffer from chronic pain and health problems.
Animal-welfare experts explain it this way: a balanced chicken has a normal growth rate, a healthy body with a strong immune system, and is able to reproduce. When breeders select genes that favor one of these factors, the other two must suffer. It's bad for the chickens, and it's bad for us. We're left with unnatural and unhealthy meat on our dinner table.
In each region, Emmer & Co.’s farming partners grow our heritage chickens with a focus on animal welfare, breed conservancy,
and environmental stewardship.
Neither would we. So when we get asked if we raise our chickens on pasture we say: of course. Unlike sluggish industrial birds, heritage chickens have the genetics of their wild ancestors. Their whole lives need to be spent entirely outdoors on lush, unrestricted pastures so that they can run, forage, build muscle, and live the active life their bodies require. Here’s how they spend their days:
Emmer & Co. chickens are processed by hand, in the most humane way possible. Birds are air-chilled, and no chlorine baths or other harmful methods are ever used. The USDA inspector clears all birds before they are vacuum-sealed.
If you’d like to know more specifics about our methods, we’re happy to answer any questions.Ask Us
99.9% of the chickens produced in America are of the same species: the Cornish Cross. Just 50 years ago, the most popular chicken in the country was the Plymouth Barred Rock. It's only taken half a century for our country to almost completely lose our chicken biodiversity.
When you purchase an Emmer & Co. bird, you're directly helping to create more financial incentive for farmers to raise these kinds of heritage species. It's simple supply and demand, and it's powerful. By only choosing heritage birds over factory birds, we can make a significant impact on the poultry industry together. We can show Big Chicken that consumers want these animals, and we can work together to forge better paths forward.