As we near the end of the warmer months, we are wrapping up our pastured meat bird production for the year. There is one batch of chickens left to head to the processor, a couple dozen turkeys, and some retiring laying hens. We frequently get asked if we will sell just chicken breasts, or just legs, or quartered or halved birds. The answer is almost always “No.” We have a few reasons for this, and I promise none of them are to be annoying!
The number one reason is that we just don’t raise enough birds to be able to get a substantial number done in any of those types of cuts. It’s also really difficult to predict how many of each type folks would want. The easiest option is to keep them all whole, and then our customers can break them down themselves.
Another reason we don’t get them broken down is that we don’t want to frustrate our processors! We bring in roughly 60 birds at a time, and to say we want five birds done this way, and 10 birds done like that, and 22 with this special treatment gets complicated and annoying for the people doing the work. We don’t have many options for processors in our area, so we do our best to keep them happy.
In addition to keeping things simple, we want to keep costs down. We have to pay an extra $1 or more per bird to get them quartered or cut into 8 pieces. We raise the prices on any birds we get cut up, which makes it more expensive for the customer. Getting the birds broken down also leaves some pieces behind. When they are turned into eight pieces, it leaves the “frame” which is essentially the cavity that you’d stuff if you were making a roasted bird. This has some weight to it, which the customer isn’t buying, so we lose money there. It costs us the same amount to raise a bird that will be left whole or cut up.
Finally, we want you to use the whole bird. These birds worked hard to gain weight and taste delicious. The best way to honor them is to use them to the fullest extent. A whole bird can make several meals for a family. Roast or grill it and eat what you want. Make sandwiches with the leftover meat. Put the rest of the yummy morsels of meat into soup. And finally make broth with what’s left of the carcass. If you don’t get the whole bird, you aren’t going to be able to make that many meals out of them!
Breaking down a whole chicken isn’t super complicated. Our friend Jamie from J. Waldron Butchers recently did a tutorial on how to part out a chicken. It’s very in-depth, and will help you turn your bird from us into any chicken cuts you need!
We hope this helps you understand more on why we do things the way we do. We appreciate each and every one of our customers, and we hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor. Thank you for supporting us this past year, and in previous years. It means the world to us