Chicken Confidential- part 3- A Qualitative Difference


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One of the 2009 class of broilers

Mike and the kids caught the 75 free-range broiler chickens we've been raising this summer, put them in the chicken crates he made, and took them to Ashby Minnesota to be butchered. The one in the picture skipped the trip to Ashby.

We've learned a lot about raising chickens and it shows! I hope you can see how yellow this bird is- a striking difference from last year's chicken.

This year we didn't use the portable chicken coop- moving it daily around the farmyard. We just let the chickens run wild. They were smarter, more interesting, less concentrated manure, and ate more diverse food. They showed instincts- like diving under a car or propane tank when a hawk flew over. We even lost fewer birds this year. And I think they are tastier... They were "finished off" on crab apples. The chickens just hung out eating apples all day long the last couple weeks.

We made old-fashioned fried chicken (dipped in eggs- then into our hand ground Big Stone County wheat) and it tasted divine as part of a traditional August farmhouse dinner- slice tomatoes and cucumbers, sweet corn, fried chicken, and cilantro tossed rice (okay- not traditional). Everything but the salt, pepper and rice was grown on our farm. Topped the meal off with some Black Current Wine (for me and Leona) and a Summit Pale Ale for Mike.

Enjoying the fruits of summer's labor...


Indeed. Enjoying the fruits of the summer labor.

Sounds good. We have eaten most meals from the garden. I never thought I would hear myself say that I was a total vegan last week. As I looked at the chickens eating my tomatos agian I decided to eat meat today. No, No, I didn't kill my chicken but we did have chicken on the grill with fresh sweetcorn potatoes and onions with garlic cooked on the grill. Yum.


Your meal sounds great! I haven't put garlic on the grill- will have to try that. I have a crate full of garlic.

I'm getting to be obsessive/fanatic about eating meals from our farm. They boys had their shots today and it was traumatic for all 5 of us. When we got home about 5 pm I just wanted easy/simple dinner.

I made pasta with fresh basil from the garden. Sauted a chicken breast (save one from the yesterda) cut in cubes, tomatoes, salad from our second planting of gourmet blend lettuce, and some homemade mozzarella with basil leaves on sourdough bread. Yah--- keep it simple. Actually it was pretty easy.

Boys have sore arms but are better.

Oh, one of your employees made us fridg. cheese Mexican style ever had it? Looks gross. Tell the boys that jasons arm hurts too.
Jason says hey girls.

hi Yall! Hade a chance to talk to your Mom the other day -Told her a couple things about what I'm doing here. She'll clue you in sometime. I can almost taste the chicken in the picture; Were buying open range birds from a private party. People out there. There "Ain't nothin better"


Why don't you and Linda come out to our farm and tell us first hand about what you are up to. I was going to temp you with a fishing trip but Mike just informs me the fishing is "miserable" in Big Stone County this year.

We could set you up with a year's worth of chickens too. Seriously Evan - I hope to be able to learn from you first hand.


I remember my youngin days of raising chicken. They almost felt like pets, but it was an odd relationship though since I had no qualms about eating them either lol. I do miss my hometown of Minnesota though.

Good idea to make the chickens to move freely within the coop and thus provide them some sort of exercise. Even i have moved my hens from portable chicken coop to backyard chicken coop where in i have left enough free space for the chickens to wander around.

I agree with the free range idea, if you can keep them off of the door step an perching on the handrails :).

Free Range is the best way to have chickens if you are going to raise them. Anything seems to do better when it is no caged up or confined all the time.

Those free range chickens are good to the palate for sure.

That menu also sounded pretty tasty as well.

My grandmother use to say that you always wanted to keep them in a pen and not let them run around because it would make the meat tougher.

Reading what you said I guess their is not really a difference.

Maybe it was just an old wives tale.

wow that sounds wonderful. chickens can be quite fun to raise

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My parents have been raising chickens my entire life and I've got to say that both the eggs and chickens are way better home grown! Nothing better than a true home-grown meal.

Nice pictures. You can actually see that the free range chicken is of much higher quality. No store bought chicken I've purchased has looked as lean as that one. I try to eat as much chicken and fish as possible, and cutting down on my red meat. It's much easier for me to eat fish since I'm out fishing all the time, but I haven't found a free range farm around me for my chicken meat yet.

Some time ago I was still confused about what you discuss this, but after you finish reading this article, a little more enlightening for me. greetings.

Some time ago I was still confused about what you discuss this, but after you finish reading this article, a little more enlightening for me. greetings.

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Wow, that looks amazing - good job! I love raising my own chickens, and this is the reward I look forward to myself, too :-)

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I remember the first time I ever plucked a chicken as a kid, and a couple of years ago my mother introduced my son to chicken plucking, his reaction was about the same as mine!

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I enjoyed reading through this post!

First, congratulations! I`m happy You have learned so much about raising chicken!

Keep up the good work. I`ll look forward to read more so keep posting!


The chicken looks very tasty.

Did the chickens come back to roost at night, or did they roost in trees? How free range were they, was there any fencing at all? What kind of predators are around?

We have egg laying chickens in our backyard but have not taken the next step to raise broilers/ roaster yet. We have foxes and raccoons that stalk our secured chicken coop at night, so I think we would have to ensure the meat birds were locked up at night, too, to keep them alive.

Thanks for sharing the changes you have made to how you raise your chickens. We recently took care of about 40 free range chickens while our friends were out of town. There is a lot to learn by taking care of farm animals and I agree with you that it's better to just let them run wild. We learned quickly that you can not make a ckicken go to roost before it wants to. Our main job was to feed and water the chickens twice per day and lock them back up safely in the coop. We tried to put them to roost about two hours before sundown one day and it was a no go. After waiting and coming back at sundown you can not keep them out of the coop. Everything has it's own timing.


We raise our chickens in an urban environment, not in a large city but in a small village. Would be difficult for us to let our chickens run wild as I suspect we couldn't give away enough eggs to keep our neighbors from complaining.

Haha, I absolutely love the fact that you also noted changes in their behavior and intelligence, psychology greatly interests me, and I can just see myself doing exactly that as well, congratulation on the great chickens and meals, and extra points for the extra analysis =)

I found this funny. My mother raises chickens and she also just lets them run all over the farm. She says the produce the best eggs she has ever had. I can't confirm that due to me being %100 Vegan but I will let her know that what your outcomes were. Again thanks for the information.

We've been managing a 'back yard flock' for a couple of years now, and it sure is a great hobby.

We started getting fed up with the quality of shop bought eggs; free range eggs are priced at a premium, so after being given some eggs from a friend's garden chickens, decided to take the plunge and started keeping chickens ourselves.

We now have seven laying hens. Two isa browns, one maran and four cream legbars. I can only dream about having the space to keep the number of chickens that you do, but for us it's a start and means we have our own fresh eggs in the morning.

I don't know how the kids would feel if we kept some for the pot, but it's the natural progression I suppose!

My parents have been raising chickens my entire life and I've got to say that both the eggs and chickens are way better home grown!

My folks raise there own chickens and there is nothing like having fresh home grown chicken on your plate.

Raising chickens can a satisfying experience in so many ways.

@Vegan Guy: Can't beat the fresh eggs in the morning, that's the ultimate treat!

Interesting...looks real tasty. Do the chickens taste any different after free ranging and eating more diverse types of food? Just interested to know...

I like this post! It must be absolutely lovely to have a meal where everything was grown/reared in your own farm.. I hope to enjoy that kind of fruits of labor real soon!! :)


Great post. I'm in a similar situation where I currently use backyard chicken coop that I move around quite often. However, I like you're idea of having them run free, especially if they'll be more tastier! Thanks for the tip. :)

Sounds like a great meal :-) A lot of people keep chickens for the eggs but there is a lot to be said for the taste of backyard chickens.

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That really sounds good. I do agree that home-grown or home-raised food really does taste better. They're fresher, sometimes more nutrient (less chemicals) and more satisfying especially if you worked hard on it. My dad used to have a garden & some chickens in our backyard & they always used to have more flavor than when we had to buy at the grocery store.

That really sounds good. I do agree that home-grown or home-raised food really does taste better. They're fresher, sometimes more nutrient (less chemicals) and more satisfying especially if you worked hard on it. My dad used to have a garden & some chickens in our backyard & they always used to have more flavor than when we had to buy at the grocery store.

It appears so. Great blog by the way!

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That's great, nothing tastes better than food raised by yourself. Not only chicken but I really enjoy home grown vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers. Keep up the good work.

I raise a steer each year. I get them at three or four days old and raise them for eighteen months. I can tell you that the difference between that meat and what you buy in the store is the difference between night and day.
Great blog keep up the good work.

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I like the home made smoked meat with a lot of spices on it, what do you say fisherman jeff let's make a barbeque.

I have to agree - ever since I started raising my own chickens I won't eat a store-bought bird again. They are tastier and far healthier than even the "organic" store bought.

Thanks for the tip on letting them run free range as well as the apple trick - I'll have to try that next.

My mother-in-law keeps chickens and other then them being on top of just about everything, free-range is the way to go.

The fruits of your labor will definitely taste great. Do you some turkeys for thanksgiving?

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This page contains a single entry by Kathryn Draeger published on August 30, 2009 6:01 AM.

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