Our home-grown chickens and ducks are raised on whole, non-GMO grains, vegetable scraps and foraged goodies that they find for themselves in the grass and leaves around their home. We do not treat our birds with hormones or antibiotics. Our birds are ready for your freezer by mid-September and they range in size from 3 1/2 pounds to just over 5 pounds.
Our chickens are a commercial dual-purpose breed.
As chicks, they are fed a non-GMO starter mix and then as they age, they are put on whole grains to finish: wheat, blackoil sunflower seeds and millet. Their diet is also supplemented with vegetable scraps and they often forage for other natural goodies.
They begin their lives in a special room in our straw bale chicken coop. At about 3 weeks old, we move them into their new home which is a mobile "chicken tractor". We move their home around the gardens and paths every two to four days to make sure they have fresh grass and to not allow their waste to accummulate. Once they are large enough, they are allowed to wander the gardens and pastures to forage, scratch and play.
After living with us for 15 to 20 weeks, we bring our birds to a government inspected abattoir for processing.
Stewing hens are mature (older) female hens that are prized for their robust flavour in stews and soups. In commercial operations, hens are considered old when they are 10 to 18 months old. Keep in mind that most commercially-raised chickens are younger than 15 weeks of age when they are brought to market!
Our stewing hens are our older egg-laying ladies that we can no longer keep due to limited space in the yard and coop. These ladies are one to three years old. We have had (and continue to have) chickens that live out their days with us as retirees who are the matriarchs of our flock – elders of the Thistlecroft Yardbirds! Currently, our oldest hen is seven years old!
As mature birds, stewing hens no longer exhibit soft, flexible bones and cartilage, and they tend to be more fatty. Therefore, their meat performs best in slow and moist cooking methods such as stews, soups and braised dishes. These dishes produce very flavourful rich broths and sauces.
Stewing Hens: Call or email us for availability.
As farmers and as consumers of meat, we try to utilize all the parts of the animals that we raise. In addition to the whole birds, our abattoir provides us with other tasty parts of our chickens such as:
+ Chicken Feet – Traditional meal in Chinese and other cultures. Makes fantastic soup base (aspic).
+ Chicken Necks – Makes a delicious soup base.
+ Chicken Giblets – Hearts and Liver. Used as-is; in stuffing and in gravies and sauces. Can also be fed to dogs.
Call or email for prices and availability.
Muscovie ducks are large ducks that originated from Central and South America. The drakes (males) are very large - some are 30+ inches in length and over 15lbs, whereas the females are half the size. Unlike other ducks, Muscovies do not 'quack' but instead, 'hiss' similar to a snake!
Our ducks are a mix of colours - pure white, white with dark green and black and some are brown. As they age, all our ducks develop the Muscovie characteristic canucles around their face. Carnucles are the red, featherless areas around their eyes and sometimes around their necks or beaks.
Although they were originally a jungle bird, we find them to be a hardy breed in our northern climate and it is a joy to watch them fly around the property!
In the spring, they can be found bathing in the snow-melt ephermeral pools. During the summer, we provide duck baths under rain spouts to allow them to bathe and frolic in the water. Our whole ducks range in size from 5 to 9 lbs.
Our colourful eggs are laid by our hardworking hens that we have raised and cultivated over the years. These mix-breed of chickens and Muscovie ducks lay regularly from the spring and into the winter. Their eggs feature a dark yellow to orange yolk that reflects the diverse diet that they consume.
Our laying hens are a diverse and colourful flock of different breeds of chickens: Chantecler, Wyandottes, Bantam and Standard Cochins, Ameraucanas, Welsummers, Ohio Buckeyes, as well as beautiful barnyard birds from friends and neighbours. The mixed breed heritage of our flock can be seen in the variety of eggs they produce. The eggs we sell are various sizes and colours: small, medium, and large, in a rainbow of colours that range from pale beige to various hues of pink and chocolate brown, to differing shades of green and blue.
Our flock of Muscovie ducks lay large eggs which can be the equivalent in size to two large chicken eggs. The colour ranges from beige to pale olive green colour. Duck eggs keep longer than chicken eggs as their shells are much thicker. The flavour of duck eggs is similar to chicken eggs, but due to their size contain more protein, fat, calories, colesterol. Duck eggs are especially prized by bakers for the additional albumen (egg white) which makes for light and airy cakes.
All our chickens and ducks are fed a mix of whole grains and legumes (wheat,sunflower seeds, millet, legumes and peas), supplemented with fresh vegetable bits and naturally sourced calcium. We do not treat our birds with anitbiotics or pharmaceuticals. When a bird is sick we treat her with apple cider vinegar, oilve oil, garlic and herbs, and bring her into the house where we can nurse her back to health.
The chickens and ducks spend the day foraging in the yards, gardens, and pastures, socialising with the other farm animals. At night, we protect our flocks from preditors in spacious buildings where they have access to grains and fresh water.