Our commitment to regenerating the land and the ethical care of our animals means we adapt to the seasons that Mother Nature gives us.
That's why our chickens live outside in mobile coops that rotate daily to fresh, lush pastures during the warm seasons.
When the cold northern winter sets in, all birds are raised inside warm barns, protecting them from the harsh elements while maintaining access to pasture as weather permits.
Our chicken is always free of GMO feeds, antibiotics, drugs, and hormones.
From early May through late October, our birds rotate to fresh pasture daily, providing a diverse diet of grass, legumes, wildflowers, and all the worms and bugs they can find.
Our birds' daily rotation across the pasture naturally fertilizes the land, allowing pastures time to rest and establish new growth.
Throughout time, this process of foraging, fertilizing and resting the land allows the plant's roots to feed the soil biology, thus building and regenerating the soil year after year.
When it becomes too cold for birds to live outside, our chickens primarily live in warm, indoor barns with continued outdoor access when the weather allows.
Like our summer chickens, our winter birds also adhere to strict non-GMO feed protocols and never receive antibiotics, drugs, or hormones.
The indoor space is kept warm, and the birds are given 10-20% more space beyond what organic standards require. The winter barns also have windows that let in plenty of natural light, allowing our birds to wake up with the natural sunrise.
To keep our customers supplied with ethically raised chicken during the cold season, we partner with Corwin Heatwole and the farmers at Shenandoah Valley Organics.
Corwin Heatwole is a fellow farmer who practices regenerative agriculture on his farm in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and he's also the founder of Shenandoah Valley Organics.
We appreciate partnering with Corwin and his producers for their commitment to ethically raising birds in protective houses with pasture access—an approach we share in caring for our laying hens during winter.
We love our customers who desire to consume food seasonally. If you are willing and able to stock your freezers with a seasonal supply of summer-raised chicken to last your household all year - you can do so in the following ways:
We raise Cornish Cross broilers in both summer and winter.
Our chickens always maintain access to a non-GMO blend of corn and soybean feed regardless of summer or winter. Due to winter weather, the birds will naturally consume less forage compared to summer months.
Our birds are primarily water-chilled, and chlorine is NOT used in this process. This method brings the birds to a safe temperature faster than air-chilled methods. Air-chilling is also very expensive, requiring significant investments and energy costs for refrigeration space.
Ensuring our birds' ethical and compassionate handling and harvesting is of utmost importance to us. The process begins at the farm, where each bird is hand-gathered into baskets instead of a mechanical collection. On cold days, the birds are covered to keep warm during transport. On warm days, the birds are kept cool with fans and mist when they arrive at the harvest facility.
Once the birds arrive at the harvest facility, each bird is hand-unloaded from each basket as opposed to the industry practice of dumping. Low lighting is utilized where possible in the harvest areas to keep the birds calm. Each bird is instantaneously rendered unconscious via an electrical stun before the process of harvest.
At Seven Sons, we trust our partners for humane harvesting, but we also personally visit and verify their processes, going the extra mile to ensure our standards are met.
We maintain no more than 5 to 6 pounds of chicken per square foot of shelter or housing space during the summer and winter. However, when the birds are young, they have roughly double to triple this space.
At a minimum, during summer or winter, each bird has the same amount of space outside as they do inside their shelter or housing. During the summer, this space can be double to triple.