On the Road to Plow Point Farms in Monroe, GA & a recipe for Armagnac Chicken
This bird is heartier and bred to survive by foraging for grasses and bugs. Chickens like the Cornish Cross (the most commonly raised hybrid) could not survive a rain storm like these birds can. You would find many Cornish Cross dead after a storm. The Cornish Cross are also plagued with all types of defects after being so overbred in commercial hatcheries. The Freedom Rangers are born and bred to be raised outdoors, roaming free. The chicks that they purchase weekly are born in Pennsylvania Dutch Country and shipped to them. They will either raise them to a poisson (1 1/2 pounds) or a fryer size (3 to 3/12 pounds).
The poissons (or baby chickens), will take 4-5 weeks to grow to their desired weight and the fryers will take between 8-10 weeks. It is generally quicker in the summer when the grasses and bugs are plentiful.
Compare this to the chickens that we purchase in our stores that weigh between four and five pounds. Many of these birds are raised in over-crowded spaces. Some are confined to individual small cages and harvested in under 40 days, while they are being force fed to grow quickly, often with antibiotics. Even companies that claim they use no antibiotics in the feed inject the eggs with antibiotics (before they are hatched), yet claim they are naturally raised. If you read the label on many of these birds, you will also see that they have been injected with a saline solution to pump up the meat even more.
Plow Point Farms has 175 hens that lay about 70 dozen eggs a week. We were happy to take a couple dozen of those off their hands while we were there. 😉 The laying hens are Golden Comets which are a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Delaware hen. We noticed that the eggs had a milder flavor than the ones I normally buy. The yolks were perfect and these were beautiful eggs to serve atop a special dish.
Many of the chefs that purchase chickens from Plow Point Farms are using the whole chicken, much in way that Chef Craig Diehl (of Cypress in Charleston, SC) is using everything but the squeal of the pig. These chefs are using everything but the cluck! Chef Linton Hopkins serves chicken heads at Holeman & Finch and other chefs are serving the feet and necks. They are also able to sell the organs for use in making stocks. There is very little waste from these birds.