Last week I had the opportunity to check out a great local farm called Country Lane Farms. I wanted to visit them out after a good friend of mine had sent me an email about the Christmas turkeys they were selling last month. I always like to know what local farmers are doing and his website (www.countrylanefarms.com) listed some foods I’m looking a supplier for so I thought why not give the farmer in charge – Jerry Kamphuis, a call to meet him and see his farm in person.
When I emailed Jerry he got in touch quickly and we spoke on the phone prior to my visit. He let me know a bit as to why he didn’t go for the full “certified organic” labeling but shared his poultry pedigree and forward thinking ways of farming. It sounded good! I went and checked out the farm in January 2014, it’s a short drive east of Calgary and fortunately was a warm and sunny day when I went. Jerry does all of his own poultry farming on site and it really was quite impressive. I learned a lot about chicken farming. Jerry has 3 separate areas as his farming has a constant rotation of chicks in various ages as they mature. Some of the areas may have chicks as young as 1 week, then in the next area you have some chicks that are 4 weeks old, etc. Each area had 1700 chickens and they had plenty of space. The last stage where they are the oldest is the largest space and they can still roam. In the summer there are doors that open for light and fresh air, not so much in the winter! The chicks are fed a wholesome mixture of vege protein and whole wheat, plus some special extras such as probiotics, prebiotics and selenium. Jerry stopped using antibiotics 23yrs ago and has a great non-toxic system in place for cleaning the farm. Not something that you always think about but commercial farms use harsh cleaners such as iodine, phosphoric acid and more. The other thing that I found really interesting was the lighting in each space for the chicks. Jerry educated me as to the process of how they start with a lot of light the first few days and then decrease it and gradually over time add hours back until it’s a normal days light or close to. He said a lot of commercial farms leave the lights very dim for roughly 23hrs a day (see the picture for a comparison). What an odd way to live, never really day and never really night. Can’t be good for them. Again, not something you always think about. Well at least not me always.
Because Jerry has been in the farming business so long he has created a lot of great relationships with other suppliers of beef, salmon, turkey and even more seafood! His salmon supplier is pretty cool as it’s Canada’s first certified organic fresh Chinook salmon suppliers.
I love chicken and eat a lot of it. It’s really a favorite protein of mine and I feel a lot better knowing that I am eliminating a lot of unnecessary antibiotics and other potential toxins by knowing the producers of the food that I eat. These people are incredibly passionate about food and because of that we get along great!
Thanks for reading this blog post and I hope you learned something new.
Yours in good health,
Cordelia McFadyen, RHN