15713 Highway 47, Yamhill, Oregon 97148 ... email kookoolan@gmail.com ... phone Farmer Chrissie at (503) 730-7535
organic farming practices ... pasture-raised poultry, meats, and eggs ... mead and kombucha

Pasture-Raised Poultry
KOOKOOLAN FARMS - 15713 HWY 47 - YAMHILL, OR  97148 - (503)730.7535 - kookoolan@gmail.com

Our famous pasture-raised poultry!  Available fresh weekly May through October.  

Kookoolan Farms will be at the Hillsdale Farmer's Market EVERY OTHER SUNDAY, May through October.  Here are our dates for 2013:  May 5 and 19;
June 2, 16, 30; July 14 and 28; August 11 and 25; September 8 and 22; and October 6 and 20, 2013.
In 2013 our pasture-raised poultry season will run from the beginning of May through the end of October.  Note that in order to have chickens for the winter, you’ll want your freezer to be fully stocked up before the end of October (September recommended as October chickens sell out quickly with people stocking up for winter.)  All of our poultry is pasture-raised.

Available fresh weekly at our farmstore in Yamhill, at all Oregon New Seasons Markets meat cases, and at Barbur World Foods, fresh May through October.  Available fresh and frozen every OTHER week directly from Kookoolan Farms at the Hillsdale Farmers Market on Sunday, November 4, and then EVERY OTHER SUNDAY, 10am to 2pm May through October, 2013.

Next fresh chickens will be available approximately May 1, 2013 -- in order to have chickens available for winter, you will need to have your freezer stocked before the end of October (September is recommended).

To sign up for our newsletters and to get additional information about our pasture-raised poultry, please click here.

Whole chickens are $4.59/pound (same price everywhere)

Feet $2.50/lb in 5-lb bags, there is a waitlist

Necks $3/lb in 5-lb bags, there is a waitlist

Livers OR hearts $3.50/lb in one-pound deli containers

Gizzards, $5/lb, by special order only

Also pasture-raised Pekin Ducks available weekly, and hand-raised 4H rabbits available periodically.

2013 is our eighth year of farming, and our sixth year as a licensed and inspected poultry processor.   We believe that we have done an excellent job of bringing pastured poultry to Portland, and we appreciate very much that so many of you think so too.

Another aspect of what we've accomplished is a large amount of research on the status and history of American poultry production over the last hundred years.  We have learned that "ethical and sustainable" farming, especially as applied to livestock farming, is not "black or white," but rather a continuum.  And not just one continuum, but several:  housing, genetics, chick procurement, feeding, handling, slaughtering, and processing, are each a continuum, as are the human and financial sustainability aspects of “sustainable farming.”  More than once, we have completely reinvented our farm, its practices, and its offerings.

Where do you Buy Your Chickens?

In times past, pasture-raised poultry would have been the norm. Until the 1960s, the intensive factory farming methods we know today simply hadn’t been heard of. Then, some farmers started to raise their animals intensively in order to increase output. To compete, others followed and the rest is history. Have we now reached a point where intensive farming is an inevitability or is it possible to turn the clock back and find another way? Some farmers have already done so. The difference in their pasture-reared poultry and the birds churned out by intensive, industrial farms is huge. Pasture raised poultry is tastier, more nutritious and of course, much more ethical.

Setting up outdoor portable shelters at the beginning of the season.

Industrial Poultry

Industrial poultry is raised in huge-scale industrial facilities. They truly are factories, rather than barns or anything we might associate with traditional farming. They are concentrated in just 15 states, and there are only 27,000 producers of poultry in the whole country. That is a 98% drop from the number there were 50 years ago, when there were 1.6 million producers nationwide. The average broiler chicken sold in US supermarkets today will have come from a farm which raises around 600,000 chickens each year. Our appetite for cheap chicken is huge, with 9 billion being eaten a year, compared to 580 million 50 years ago.

What problems does farming on this scale and at these kinds of densities create? It harms both the birds and the environment around them. In order to meet our huge demand for chicken, industrial farmers have used breeding and growth drugs to help reduce the time it takes to raise a bird by almost half (naturally, it takes 84 days on average, now it is down to just 45 in confinement – 63 days at Kookoolan Farms). These drugs are harmful, giving the birds some nasty health problems, as their bodies grow faster than their hearts can support. They suffer chronic pain, leg defects and heart failure. The conditions they are kept in add to their problems. With only around 130 square inches each, they cannot move around properly and are subject to stress and disease; in confinement most poultry is treated with antibiotics, usually hidden from consumers by injecting a long-acting antibiotic into the egg the day before the chick hatches.

All those chickens in one place creates an awful lot of mess. That mess has to go somewhere. The manure and waste products from the industrial farms end up in the fields in higher concentrations than the land can absorb, and from there is washed into streams and rivers, polluting them.

Pasture-Raised Poultry

Pasture-raised poultry is kept very differently. It is a natural, seasonal, ethical product. Chickens are raised on natural grass pastures, perhaps with barns or shelters that they are free to wander in and out of as they choose. They can peck, dig, scratch and generally do what chickens do. They are not forced to grow faster than their bodies can handle. They do not produce mountains of waste products: their waste is a natural part of the life cycle and is easily absorbed by the earth they live in due to lower stocking densities and periods of rest for the pasture between batches of birds. They will generally be fed on higher-quality grain rations, rather than on poor quality commercial feed mixes. They live as close to the way that wild chickens will live as possible.

Farmer Koorosh enjoys a conversation with our neighbor Ken -- raising poultry outdoors is easy on the chickens, the farmer, and the neighbors.

Chickens raised like this cost more than those raised intensively, as do the eggs from chickens raised this way. These products are also not available all year-round. Chickens raised indoors in barns are not seasonal because their living conditions are removed completely from the seasons. Pasture-raised chickens are born over the spring and summer, although of course, they can (and should!) be frozen for use over winter. In the past, most food was seasonal. Just as certain fruits are only around during the summer months, so various meats are only naturally grown at certain times of year.

As well as being much more ethical, pasture raised poultry is healthier and tastier than industrial poultry. Both meat and eggs from industrial birds are lower in certain nutrients than those raised in pasture. They are often bruised and damaged from being kept in confinement, and can be prone to parasitic infection.

The industrial farming industry has removed most of us from the natural life cycles of our own foods. We can produce anything we want, whenever we want it. The question we should ask is whether the low cost of cheap chicken is worth the high cost in suffering, taste and sustainability.


Imogen Reed is a freelance writer from England who writes mostly about drug addiction facilities and resources. She also believes strongly in other good causes such as organic produce and has everything from an organic mattress to organic carrots at home.  She wrote this piece particularly for Kookoolan Farms.  Thanks Imogen!

Free-Range Poultry Housing

We start our young chicks indoors for about the first 4 to 6 weeks of their lives, depending on the weather:  longer early and late in the season, shorter in the warmest months of the summer.  For the last 2 to 5 weeks of their lives, our chickens live outdoors on fresh grass pastures.  

The outdoors birds are a joy to watch. They require protection from predators (especially at night) and continuous access to fresh water and food, but these chores are completed twice a day, with more frequent checks on the very hottest days of summer or during periods of rainstorms or other harsher weather.

On hot sunny days, chickens need shade.  We have used portable tarps, portable hoophouses covered with shade cloth, and wooden portable houses covered with roofing.  Each of these structures is lightweight and portable, and can quickly and easily be moved from a “used up” section of pasture to fresh clean grass.  In this way, the manure load is spread over the entire pasture, resulting in lush, deeply fertilized pasture grass.  Each section of the pasture has a substantial rest period before chickens are returned to that section – this interrupts disease cycles and keeps our soil and poultry flocks disease-free. 

Numerous studies have shown that birds raised outdoors on pasture have higher levels of Omega-3 compared to Omega-6 fatty acids; higher levels of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA, a cancer-fighting agent) and vitamins including Vitamin D which the chickens produce themselves when they are exposed to sunlight, just like we do.

Feeding -- Organic vs. conventional

All of our housing and raising practices qualify as certified organic; all of our slaughtering and packing plant practices are completely chemical-free and could be certified organic.  Our pastures have never been treated with any synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.  Here the term "organic" really just refers to the absence of chemicals.

We have raised a few batches of chickens on certified organic feed, and a few batches even on soy-free, corn-free certified organic feed.  While these projects supplied food to a niche market who was willing to pay a premium, the size of that niche is too small to provide our family with an income.  And the more we dig into sourcing certified organic animal feeds, the more we became convinced that in general this is actually NOT an ethical choice for us, even if more folks were willing to pay for it.

Most commercial chicken feed is conventionally raised corn and soy, which means most of it comes from monoculture corporate-owned factory farms in the Midwest, using chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.  At best these are high-producing hybrids which require large amount of fertilizers for their high yields; virtually all of them now are GMO varieties.  The Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri Rivers drain the bulk of America's bread basket, pouring millions of pounds of chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico.  The unnaturally high levels of phosphorus cause algae to flourish, sucking oxygen away from native plants and animals and causing "hypoxia".  

"Organic" commodity grains are mostly imported into the U.S. rather than grown domestically; most come from China and Brazil.  These grains come to Oregon through the commodity market, using large amounts of fossil fuels for shipment by barge, train, and truck.  Chinese organic grains are of questionable certification and prone to containing unauthorized ingredients; Brazilian grains may be grown without chemicals, but the soil fertility comes from unsustainable slash-and-burn agriculture of the Amazon basin.  Also, "certified organic" just means the absence of chemicals; lower-quality certified organic grain by-products rather than higher-quality whole grains are often used in certified organic animal feeds.  Organic feeds can be as much as twice as expensive as conventional feeds, and not necessarily of better or even equal nutritional quality for the birds.  But even if there were a large enough market, we’re not happy with the non-transparency of origin, questionable labor and environmental practices, and high fossil fuel requirements associated with commodity grains grown on a different continent. There exist the beginnings of locally grown, organic grains and poultry feeds which we are happy to see, and we use these on a limited basis as a portion of our poultry flock’s overall ration.  Our feed is milled locally with ingredients that are preferentially sourced locally whenever available.

Handling, Slaughtering, and Processing

This part we do exceptionally well.  At Kookoolan Farms, "trucking to slaughter" involves a 200-yard-long, two-minute tractor ride.  Our birds undergo minimal handling stress, are killed humanely and with respect, and are processed cleanly, chilled rapidly, and delivered fresh to our customers.  We handle our birds so gently that 95% of the chickens we process are sold as fancy-quality (absolutely blemish-free with no bruises, dislocations, or broken bones) whole broiler/fryers:  the evidence of their gentle handling is right there in the perfect carcass in front of you.  However, and this probably is not a surprise to any of you, killing chickens, burying their offals for compost, and cleaning the slaughterhouse are not our favorite farm chores.  So we only process 300 chickens a week, only one day a week, only five months of the year.  Other days we’re busy with milking cows, making mead and kombucha, growing and harvesting vegetables, offering cheesemaking classes, and going to the Hillsdale Farmer’s Market.  This balance of work is important for keeping our farm humanly sustainable for our family and our workers.

TURKEY.  Not available in 2013.  We're happy to refer you to other sources.

Red Bourbon and Naragansett heirloom-breed turkeys, outdoors on pasture and free to nest in the trees like wild turkeys do.

            HEIRLOOM CHICKEN.  Our premium, signature, specialty product is heirloom-breed Le Poulet chickens, the same breeds grown under the French “Label Rouge” program.  These are grown on pasture in our own orchard, where they eat pasture grass, bugs, dropped fruits, vegetable garden scraps, and custom-milled, no-corn, no-soy, no GMO feed produced locally in Dayton, Oregon, from crops grown within 20 miles.  These chickens are allowed to grow to full sexual maturity, processed at 16 weeks old, whole carcass only, $6/lb.  These birds have more size variability; finished birds weigh between 3 and 9 pounds.  We are striving to get our chick production, both for our heirloom meat and heirloom egg breeds, off the factory farm grid and onto our own farm.  In 2010 we plan to hatch about half our own chicks, and buy only half.  We use “straight-run” or “unsexed” chicks, meaning that no chicks of the “wrong gender” are sent to the gas chamber.  Not available in 2011 due to our increased pasture-raised chickens available through New Seasons Markets, but we do plan to offer these again in 2013.

            REGULAR CHICKEN.  We also produce humanely raised, chemical- and medication-free, “regular” Cornish Cross breed chickens, pasture-raised, for $4.59 per pound as butchered whole roaster/fryers.  Chickens are the same price whether you buy them at our farmstore in Yamhill, at the Hillsdale Farmer's Market, at all Portland Metropolitan Area New Seasons Markets (same price everywhere).  Outdoor-raised poultry is in season in Oregon during the warm, dry months:  we offer chicken only May through October each year.  Frozen chickens typically sell out before the end of October and you must stock up to have chickens in your kitchen over the winter until the following April! 

            OTHER POULTRY.  We have several tiny, sustainable, grass-based partner farms which raise ducks, guinea hens, rabbits, geese, and pheasants, in small batches, offered just a few times a year.  These birds are all processed here on our own farm. 

Pasture-raised Pekin ducks, available for sale to the general public and also on the menu all summer at Papa Haydn Restaurants (East and West side locations) and at the new Paulee Restaurant in Dundee.

Thank you for reading about our pasture-raised poultry.  If you have additional questions, and/or to be added to our email distribution list for newsletters and availability notices, please email kookoolan@gmail.com or phone Farmer Chrissie at (503) 730-7535.

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