April 2, 2012

Chickens to hit green pastures as temperatures rise

Young chicks are sheltered in a brooder box at McK Ranch.
 by Nate Rafn

Throughout the Willamette Valley, pasture-based farms are gearing up for chicken season.

Chickens that are raised for meat don't perform very well in wet, rainy conditions. When birds use energy to stay warm, they don't gain weight; and the fluctuation in temperature is harmful to their respiratory system. With that in mind, most growers only raise chickens on pasture in the warmer months of spring and summer.

 Large chicken farms, like Foster Farms or Draper Valley, build temperature-controlled barns for year 'round production.

Pasture-raised chickens are almost always healthier than those grown indoors. Because they are not stressed or diseased, they also produce more flavorful and tender meat. Pasture-raised chickens require no hormones or antibiotics to stay healthy and grow.

Most small scale producers sell whole chickens. Expect to pay around $3.50 per pound.

Chicks stay warm under red heat lamps before moving to pasture.

Grass-Fed and Free-Range Chicken in Oregon

The list below is a good starting point for purchasing pasture-raised meats. All of these farms raise chickens, while many of them also produce beef, lamb, pork, turkey, dairy products, etc. Please contact these farms individually to ask about growing practices, prices, and availability.

Central Oregon

Fresh Start Farms
(541) 317-5925
63530 Johnson Ranch Road, Bend OR 97701

Pine Mountain Ranch
(541) 312-0185
23585 E Hwy 20, Bend OR 97701

Eastern Oregon

Ken and Connie Pond
(541) 567-4470
302 SW 23rd Street, Hermiston OR 97838

Southern Oregon

Petal to the Metal Farm
(541) 459-3447
Oakland OR

Willamette Valley

Afton Field Farm
3385 SW 53rd St. Corvallis, OR

Deck Family Farm
(541) 998-8488
25362 High Pass Road, Junction City OR 97448

Deo Volente Farm
(503) 829-5744
15582 S Howards Mill Road, Mulino OR 97042

Full of Life Farm
(925) 876-6720
7358 Champoeg Road NE, St. Paul OR 97137

Harmony JACK Farms
41154 Ridge Dr. Scio, OR

McK Ranch
3415 Ballard Rd. Dallas, OR

Norton Creek Farm
(541) 453-5841
36475 Norton Creek Road, Blodgett OR 97326

Rain Shadow El Rancho & Scio Poultry Processing
(541) 259-5006
40556 Providence Dr. Scio, Oregon 97374

Sweet Home Farms
(541) 367-0687
40524 Highway 228, Sweet Home OR 97386

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