Deeply Rooted in Quality: Our New Processing Partnership

Deeply Rooted in Quality: Our New Processing Partnership

APRIL 2024 vol. 1

Last week I intended to tell you all about the new chicken processor we’re using, but on the way there, the brakes on my truck failed so I thought I’d spin a yarn.

Now that my blood pressure has returned to normal, we can set about our intended mission. Of course, it’s necessary to start from the very beginning.
One of the early books I read about farming was “Pastured Poultry Profits” by Joel Salatin. Joel not only discusses the benefits of raising chickens on pasture, but he lays out the economics of running a pastured poultry operation, discussing things like cashflow and profits. We’ve chosen to do a few things differently than Polyface Farms (Joel’s operation). The relevant one being that we do not process our own chickens here on the farm. I’ve processed a couple dozen chickens on my own, but there is no way Molly and I can process 300 chickens by ourselves, so we’ve chosen to outsource this by using a USDA inspected small batch processor.

When we first started, this was a no brainer as Dewberry Hills Farms was only 20 minutes away. However, in 2022, Dewberry Hills Farms closed down their operation and, after a frantic search, we were able to get some processing dates at Burgundy Pastured Poultry in Hillsboro Tx – 120 miles away. Obviously, this was less than ideal. It required me to leave super early and spend the entire day in Hillsboro awaiting my birds. We were never really happy with the quality of the product, and I certainly wasn’t happy with having to spend the day in Hillsboro. So, when I got an email in August 2023 from Matt Milliron at Deeply Rooted Ranch saying he was building a new facility, I was hopeful. Matt and I kept in touch (meaning I pestered him) over the next several months, and after a few delays imposed by the USDA, DRR Processing was open for business. Just in time for our first batch of chickens this year.

So, after the harrowing journey last week, I’m happy to report that I am completely satisfied with the change. Though I spend just as much time on the road (4 hrs.), I get to break it up into 2 separate days, dropping off our chickens one day and picking them up the following evening. Not only do I get to spend a few extra hours at home, but the chickens have time for air chilling as opposed to an ice bath. Air chilling enhances the flavor a bit, but most importantly, there is no additional moisture introduced – so you’re not paying for water. Another benefit of using DRR is that they use 5mil vacuum bags. This is super thick material – almost twice as thick as the 3mil bags we were using. This should result in a lot fewer packages losing their vacuum seal and a much better presentation.

Unfortunately, this quality and convenience comes at a cost, but after having seen and tasted the final product, I think it’s well worth it. It will take us a month or so to work through the remaining stock from Burgundy Pastured Poultry but keep your eyes open for our new product from DRR processing and let us know what you think. We hope you’re as pleased as we are.

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