Pasture-raised Ontario poultry will be available at Olliffe starting in June!

Pasture-raised Ontario poultry will be available at Olliffe starting in June!

The first long weekend of the season has come and gone and June is nearly here. That can only mean one thing—it’s almost time for pasture-raised chicken at Olliffe! If you’re familiar with this specialty product, you already understand why we’re eager to get it to our customers. And if you’re new to pastured poultry, read on—we’ll tell you all about it.

How our pastured chickens are raised

Our pasture-raised chickens are supplied by our friends at VG Meats in Norfolk County (another part of the Harvest to Gather family of companies that includes Olliffe and Rowe Farms). These chickens are cared for using the recommendations of animal welfare expert Temple Grandin. The chickens have plenty of space to roam and feed at will (much more space than the minimum recommendation, actually). They’re given fresh water and GMO-free grains every day, and have access to plenty of green grass and clover as well as that fresh country air and sunlight. The chickens also have access to shade throughout the day and their portable shelters (inspired by the work of Joel Salatin) provide protection from local predators. Here’s a closer look at how it’s done—this video features Cory Van Groningen, a farmer and the oldest VG brother.

As Cory notes, they raise these chickens on pasture for several reasons. For starters, all Harvest to Gather brands believe in farming with integrity and treating our animals well. This doesn’t mean meeting minimum standards for care – it means exceeding them, and coming up with new and innovative ways to improve our processes. Secondly, it all ties back into our holistic approach. Our farming partners use methods like this to work toward regenerative outcomes on the farm—meaning, outcomes that contribute to stronger ecosystems, local economies and communities. It’s a step above sustainability with a much greater impact—here’s a free e-book to check out if you’d like to know more.

We’ll give you a quick example. Chickens peck at the ground while eating clover, grasses and insects, and this natural irrigation is good for the soil. They also leave compost behind, as animals tend to do. The portable shelters are moved throughout the week so they always have access to fresh, lush grasses and are pecking away at new areas on the pasture. Cattle use the same fields at different times throughout the season, leaving plenty of compost and adding their own irrigation, and the animals benefit from each other while also contributing to the health of the land and local ecosystems. It’s a relationship that is good for both species, the farm and the ecosystems throughout the area. (Here’s another video from Cory VG about that relationship.) It also makes for a tender, delicious product with incredible flavour—if you haven’t tried it in previous years, we hope you will this summer!

Shop in stores and online soon

We expect this year’s pasture-raised chicken to be available by the second week of June, if not slightly earlier than that. It will be available as long as supplies last—we recommend shopping early or buying in bulk if it’s something you look forward to each summer. Olliffe will be carrying this product in store and online, so please keep an eye on our website and social media pages to stay informed. You can also speak to our butchers or contact us if you have questions. Thanks for reading—we hope to see you in store soon!