The Perils of the Big Box
A standard chicken raised in one of the big production houses is confined to an area the size of an oven – for its entire life. These birds may never see the light of day, never feel grass beneath their feet, never taste a bug or a worm, and never roam free in a pasture. That is just plain WRONG.
Most chickens are pumped full of grains that make them so fat that their legs are often unable to support their weight and eventually give out, breaking under the strain of this extreme load. To mitigate this, they are often injected with antibiotics that sturdy up the legs and allow them to survive to six weeks. At this point, they are processed for production, wrapped in plastic, sold to you at the grocery store, and fed to your families.
Unfortunately, organic and free range birds may not be much better off. Organic simply means that the chickens' feed has been certified by a government agency to contain no unnatural fertilizers or pesticides. However, the chickens may still be living their lives stacked two-high in a feed house, defecating on one another in a life of chicken misery.
Most of these big-box chickens are de-beaked, a process that involves half of the beak of each chicken being chopped off. This prevents the chickens from resorting to the cannibalism and suicide that occurs as a result of living under such cruel conditions. These behaviors aren't difficult to imagine. Chickens are designed to peck and scratch for their entire lives. We firmly disagree with the inhumanity involved in the de-beaking process and are committed to providing healthy alternatives to this all too common practice.
What about free range? This certification has been widely abused throughout the poultry community. One might think the term should mean that the birds have room to explore, play, and forage. But this has come to mean something entirely different. Take that same feed house from the previous few paragraphs, cut a little hole in the wall, and it's suddenly considered "free range." Even if the feed house is surrounded by dirt and the chickens literally never go outside to act like chickens, this is considered free range because they have the "option" to explore. You may want to rethink paying the extra $5 for this "upgrade" the next time you're at the supermarket.
So why the rant and what are we going to do about this modern day food catastrophe? Consumers are becoming more educated every single day. Many people are no longer putting up with big box chicken practice and are learning that there is an alternative. As described above, the labels and stamps such as organic and free range simply cannot be relied upon. The only way to guarantee healthy food is to know your farmers, understand their inclinations and motivations, and get out to the ranch to see your food in action.
Regrettably, there simply aren't many options here in So-Cal. Premium, real food, primal chickens are almost solely imported from Northern California and beyond. We have strategically started our ranch in Temecula, CA, within one hour of Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego. This serves to ensure the freshest poultry possible and puts you within a short drive of your local farm. We are committed to raising the best chickens in the world. At Primal Pastures, we raise our families on these meats and encourage you to do the same. Join our mailing list and we will be sure to notify you as products become available. Thank you for your interest in Primal Pastures and the world's best chickens!
Without the sheep, we couldn’t be a regenerative farm. The sheep graze in a rotational model, eating down the grasses ahead of the chickens. They fertilize the land and manage the native and seasonal grasses, ensuring that they grow back stronger each year.
Most of our sheep have never been touched by human hands, and that’s the way we want to keep it. The Dorper breed only grow wool on their backs, and naturally shed it once a year. They give birth out in the field, on their own, unassisted. Lambs are never removed from the flock, they naturally wean just as they would in the wild. We don’t dock tails or perform any alterations of any kind.
The Dorper breed produces a much more mild and sweet flavor than traditional lamb or mutton. These sheep have been raised on 100% native, California grasses, which also contributes to a much more palatable flavor than their grain-fed counterparts.
While most people can taste a big difference between a young lamb and older sheep (mutton) these sheep maintain a consistent flavor profile throughout their entire lives.
Primal Lamb is:
- Grass Fed
- Grass Finished
- Pasture Raised
- Rotationally Grazed
- Grain Free
- Antibiotic Free
- Hormone Free
- Beyond Organic
- Naturally Weaned
- Sustainably Raised
- Humanely Treated
To accommodate the growing demand for true pasture raised pork, our Farm Shop includes meat from both Berkshire pigs from Hollister, Ca, and Kune Kune pigs from our farm in Murrieta, Ca.
The pigs freely roam 30 acres of pasture and woodland, foraging for plants and grubs and feasting on seasonal organic vegetables and spent grain from local breweries. Jack and Sarah are passionate about keeping their pigs happy, and have even adjusted their off-grid farm to fit the needs of their pigs. In addition to raising our own pigs, we partner with Jack and Sarah Kimmich at California Kurobuta, who raise purebred Berkshire pigs the right way.
“We used to have our big compost piles fenced off from the pigs, and they used to endure the zap of the electric fence to break through and root in the mounds,” Jack recounts. Now he trucks in wood chip bedding each summer to make compost piles around the farm, and the pigs will spend the next year furrowing and grazing until the piles have been spread and Jack can plant a cover crop that will then become more feed. He believes that the beneficial bacteria in the compost are the biggest aid to keeping his pigs disease free.” (source)
This way of listening to the animals, stepping back and letting nature lead is why we’re so proud to partner with Jack and Sarah. If you’d like to learn more about their farm, check out this awesome interview.
Allowing the pigs to express their “pigness” (as Joel Salatin would say) makes a huge difference in the flavor and nutrition of the pork that ultimately ends up on your plate. You can expect a darker, well marbled meat, with a flavor that’s bold and hearty. This is not like the pork you’ll find in the supermarket, and it’s definitely not “the other white meat.”
California Kurobuta Pork:
- Pasture/woodland raised
- Diet includes organic non-GMO grains
- Diet includes local organic vegetables
- No corn or soy commercial feeds
- No growth supplements
- No hormones
- No antibiotics
Kune Kune Pigs
These pigs often steal the show on our farm tours and Instagram, and they definitely surprised Justin Rhodes when he visited our farm on the Great American Farm Tour. Check out this video: Rare Pigs made me think Ewoks were real!
Aside from their friendly nature, this rare breed is the perfect fit for our farm in Southern California. Kune Kunes have a short, upturned nose that makes them natural grazers. They’re not prone to rooting, which means they eat down the grasses without tearing up the pastures. Their diet is roughly 90% native and seasonal grasses along with anything they forage for in the pastures.
Although the pigs freely roam the pastures, you can always find them crowded around the mobile chicken coops in the mornings, going after any spilled chicken feed once the birds are moved to a fresh patch of grass. This supplemental feed is organic, gmo-free and soy-free (full list of ingredients here).
Primal Pastures Pork:
- 100% pasture raised
- Diet includes organic non-GMO grains
- No vaccines, hormones, antibiotics or drugs ever
Kune Kunes produce a full-flavored red meat, but are best known for their lard. Just as we’re rewinding the clock on our farm by producing meat the way is was 100 years ago, we want to see high quality fats like lard from pasture raised pigs, make it back into the American kitchen.
Want to know what the pigs are up to these days? Check out our Instagram.