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April 26, 2017

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Introducing Pasture Raised Heritage Chicken

A couple of years ago after one of Dan’s talks at a Patagonia store in California, a young gentleman walked up and introduced himself. His name was Jesse Solomon and much like us, he was trying to change the environment through our food system. He was just getting the final pieces in place for his sustainably raised chicken business, Emmer & Co. Jesse mentioned that he used our philosophy and business model in his approach. Intrigued, we exchanged business cards and said we would keep in touch.

Jesse Solomon Emmer & CoFor a few years now, we’ve wanted to offer another protein for our customers to make their shopping for sustainable food sources a little easier. But if we were ever going to do that, the production of that product would have to embrace the same environmental and humane animal husbandry values as Wild Idea Buffalo Co.

Free Range ChickensOur daughter Jilian dabbled with raising chickens and although successful, her experiment was on a very small scale (100 chickens). Our drastic seasonal changes on the Great Plains and harsh weather conditions conspired to limit production. But, her test gave us an inside look at how chickens could and should be raised for food.

Roasted Heritage Chicken
Months later, I reached out to Jesse and ordered a dozen chickens. We passed them out to friends so they could give them a try and did our own in-house testing. To quote Dan, “This is the best chicken I’ve ever had.” Still, we needed to know more. As consumers ourselves, it is easy to be swept up in the marketing hype and packages covered with certifications. We’ve seen firsthand that what’s stamped on a package doesn’t often line up what the consumer imagines or has been led to imagine. We needed to see for ourselves. We needed to meet with Jesse and meet the farmers.

California Country SideOne year later (all good things take time) our resident chicken expert, daughter Jilian and I headed to California to do just that. We met Jesse in a parking lot in Red Bluff and wound our way through the California countryside to the Big Bluff Ranch, a 2,776-acre, off-the-grid ranch owned by the Dawley family.

Dawley Family Big Bluff RanchThe Dawley’s (Frank, Vicky, Tyler, Holly, Evelyn and George) greeted us warmly along with their ranch security—comprised of many large dogs, which made us feel right at home. Tyler was our guide and as we walked among the happy outdoor chickens. He spoke with passion about the holistic management approach of the ranch, including; the grass, soil and the restoration projects they are working on.

Tyler DawleyHe talked about how they came to chickens, their learning curves, pasture rotation, composting for redistribution on degraded soil areas—all in the name of creating a “happy” chicken farm business model that could be duplicated.

When Jesse met Tyler and the Dawley family, the stars started to align and they knew that together they would be able to improve the environment as well as give the consumer a sustainably raised, healthy protein. It didn’t take long for us to realize that not only was this a love story of people, but a love story of the land.

Baby ChickensEmmer & Co.’s mission, product and people met our expectations, allowing us to confidently and proudly offer their product to our customers. Here are a few “bullet points” on their product:

  • 100% heritage birds, certified by the American Poultry Association
  • 100% pasture raised
  • No antibiotics, hormones or filler fluid
  • Supplement feeds are non-gmo blend of wheat, peas & soy
  • 112 days to maturity vs. 42 days on factory farms
  • Humane, respectful processing & air chilled finish
  • 60% less fat, 50% less cholesterol, 35% fewer calories with lower sodium, and more protein than factory-farmed chickens
Chickens Foraging
In addition, it really is a GREAT tasting chicken! Each order will come with recipes from Emmer & Co. and me (Jill) to ensure a successful cooking experience.

Roast heritage Chicken with StuffingWe hope you join us in supporting another truly sustainable business and the producers who are helping improve our environment and food system!


Comments

Edward

April 27, 2017

We used to live in Northern California and have passed through Red Bluff many times. I’m very interested in trying this new product you will be offering. You’ll be hearing from us soon !!

mike demasco

April 27, 2017

sounds great can’t wait to order

Marie Gruber

April 27, 2017

Very informative … glad you are adding chickens. Jill’s recipe looks yummy!

Maren Trader

April 27, 2017

I am thrilled to read about this chicken farm! In our area, although rural it seems impossible to find truly pasture raised chicken. We can get eggs, but no chicken, and we love to eat chicken…so, I am going to place my order right away!!! Thank you for providing us with food the way it was intended to be by nature! We love all your bison meats!!! Chris and Maren

Eirik Heikes

April 27, 2017

Cant wait to try one.

Kari Hendra

April 27, 2017

are the supplement feeds grain? corn?
what percentage?
why supplement?

Tammy Mitchell

April 27, 2017

I am curious as to what the supplemental feed consists of.

john Ziskowski

April 27, 2017

How do they protect their flock from hawks? seems to me that their free-roaming chickens are “easy pickins” for raptors.

Lisa Dickman

April 27, 2017

I am also curious as to the supplemental feed- IF it IS “certified organic” or not-
also, im not sure where these bluffs are, but if there are Fukishima contaminated waters, or
land where they are free roaming- or neighbors spraying their crops with GMO’S…

ANYWAY I will say I am THRILLED that your protein of choice is chicken! I have been scouting a good
source for years but the price was a bit cost prohibitive here in the Northeast.

LOVE your buffalo meat offerings and your company! Keep up the great work!

Dan

April 27, 2017

I like the idea. Does the supplement feed contain any soy?

Michael

April 27, 2017

I understand Wild Idea’s harvesting methods, as I have read all of Dan’s books, and those methods are absolutely crucial to my supporting and eating Wild Idea buffalo as I have for the last few years.
Are the “humane, respectful processing” methods you refer to for this chicken as considerate of the animal as those used by Wild Idea buffalo processing?

Nancy Barker

April 27, 2017

Well this is very exciting!

Alicia Brewster

April 27, 2017

I would like specific details about the humane, respectful processing, from birth to death. When and how are they culled.. as eggs or chicks? Would love to eat chicken again, but I need to be able to feel good about it.

Jill

April 28, 2017

On food supplement questions: Emmer’s supplement feeds contain the following; A vegetarian, non-GMO blend of wheat, peas and soy. Emmer & Co. is also working toward an integrated cover cropping and feed program where over time, they will reduce their reliance on the outside feed industry and move towards a 100% organic feed grown holistically alongside the heritage chickens.

On processing chickens questions: Emmer & Co. chickens are gathered and transported at night and to keep stress low. They are processed by hand, in the most humane way possible. Birds are air-chilled, instead of chlorine baths or other harmful methods that are often used. A USDA inspector is on site and clears all birds before they are vacuum-sealed.

Answers to where chicks come from: Emmer & Co. works with family hatcheries that have been maintaining their flocks for generations. Their heritage breed birds are drawn from the oldest continuous flocks in the U.S., are certified 100% Heritage by the American Poultry Association.

For more information, you may want to visit the Emmer & Co. website: https://www.emmerandco.com/pages/our-birds

Cathy

April 28, 2017

You read my mind. I have been looking for pasture raised chicken for months. I am so happy to hear this good news. Thank you for all the information you posted. I too am concerned about contaminated water and neighbors spraying crops. We love your buffalo and cannot wait to try this new addition.

carolyn

April 28, 2017

I was all set to order one of the chickens when concerned about the supplemental feed I found out it contained soy which I don’t eat. But I am wondering how long are the chickens fed soy and how much?

Jill O"Brien / Wild Idea Buffalo Co.

April 28, 2017

Additional information on supplemental feeds. Emmer & Co. chickens are free to forage as soon as they can get around. Supplemental feeds (a mix of non-gmo wheat, peas, & soy) are available for them when they would like. But, as far as how much they consume is difficult to measure. Heritage breeds are natural foragers and what we witnessed was chickens mostly running around in a variety of different pasture habitat. There was not a line at any feeding trough. Even the young chickens that were still little puffs were sprinkled across the pastures.

In addition, Emmer & Co. rotates their pastures with no-till crops and other animals to improve soil health and encourage perennial growth. The crop mix that is planted varies and evolves over time depending on which nutrients need to be added to the soil. In each planting, they aim to have as broad of a species mix as possible, and the crop often contains a combination of small grains, tubers, grasses, and legumes. With time they will be converting to using only these food plots and moving away from supplemental feeds.

Pete

April 28, 2017

Emmer & Co birds are amazing. What a collaboration!

Amy Wendling

April 28, 2017

I’m so excited by this offering. I too would like more information on the ‘humane harvesting’. What does that mean? I have chosen Wild Idea specific because of your harvesting practices. I can get pasture raised chicken in Colorado, but the harvesting is still not in line with what I consider humane. Are details available? Thank you.

Robin

April 28, 2017

Two of my favorite proteins together in one place – what a cool collaboration!

carolyn

April 29, 2017

Jill,
Thanks for responding to my post about the supplemental feed and my concerns about the use of soy. Do you the chickens would be eating less of the supp feed in the spring and summer months? I understand the chickens need a supply of protein could a subsitute of say lentils be added instead of soy. I am really intrigued and would like to order one I need a little more reassurance about the soy. Thanks again we love the buffalo meat and you whole operation. We have been recommending it to friends some of whom have become your customers. The quality of the meat and the taste is wonderful. Carolyn

Judith Jones

July 01, 2017

Sounds great. You guys now have another HUGE fan. I’m ready to order!

Leslie

December 31, 2017

It appears that you no longer carry this product. What happened?

Alicia

March 26, 2018

On a whim I added an Emmer & Co. chicken to our most recent buffalo order and I’m so glad I did. It arrived with Jill’s recipe for Roast Heritage Chicken. I followed the recipe to a T and hands down, this is the most delicious chicken I’ve ever had. Every morsel was moist, rich, and tender. We got four meals out of it which makes the per-meal cost of this chicken more than reasonable. I’m hooked! Thank you for introducing us to what chicken should taste like.

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