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BIG free range chickens


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I went to three stores on Wednesday -- Safeway, Save On, and Windsor Meats (Caulfield branch) looking for a good-sized free range chicken. By good sized I mean 5 or, even better 6 lbs. All anyone had were scrawny little 3 lb birds. I can't feed a family of four (two of whom are teenage boys) with those things. Sure I could, and have, buy two birds, or buy a bird and a couple of extra legs, but I like the presentation of the whole bird especially when it's stuffed.

So, does anyone know a butcher who regularly stocks nice big chickens? Extra points if he's located on the North Shore or on Hastings between the PNE and Simon Fraser.

Thanks.

Paul B

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So, does anyone know a butcher who regularly stocks nice big chickens?  Extra points if he's located on the North Shore or on Hastings between the PNE and Simon Fraser.

I know what you mean. Most chickens are too small for our family of four, and my girls are only 4 and 7!

Have you tried asking at 3P Natural & Exotic Meats? Maybe they could bring them in for you on special order.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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i'm not an expert nor a farmer, so i may be wrong...but i don't think you can get free range chickens BIG because they're free range. the reason conventional (factory farm) chickens are so large is because they're plumped up on purpose (and hence really fatty) with a combination of drugs, injections, special feed, etc. Free range birds get a lot of exercise and get fed better food so they turn out smaller and leaner -- but tastier!

that's my non-expert opinion, informed by eating both kinds of birds and watching a few disturbing documentaries on chicken farming.

btw, my family likes buying whole free range birds from this place near Bridgeport and Sweden Way in Richmond, it's behind the Home Depot/Futureshop area... I've seen them at Chinese markets as well, they come whole with the feet and head still attached, wrapped in a dodgy plastic bag...and they do look a bit scrawny... we cook it "bak jam guy" style: dunk into boiling water, turn off the heat and cover. let cook until the blood's all gone. serve with a dipping sauce made with chopped ginger, salt and oil.

album of the moment: Kelley Polar - I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling - 2008
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i'm not an expert nor a farmer, so i may be wrong...but i don't think you can get free range chickens BIG because they're free range. the reason conventional (factory farm) chickens are so large is because they're plumped up on purpose (and hence really fatty) with a combination of drugs, injections, special feed, etc. Free range birds get a lot of exercise and get fed better food so they turn out smaller and leaner -- but tastier!

That's spot on. Those super size chickens that you see in supermarkets are quite literally mutant hybrids on steroids injected with brine.

Cook two birds - it'll always taste better, or make an interesting stuffing to pad it out.

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It's way out of your way (on the WA side of the Columbia River) but I believe that stockhouse farms has some breeds that grow rather large naturally. I don't recall details but I had a conversation whith Dan a while back and he was talking about chickens that were huge by your usual standards. Maybe if you're taking a road trip you can arrange to stock up...? Time it right and there might be fish being caught then too.

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It's way out of your way (on the WA side of the Columbia River) but I believe that stockhouse farms has some breeds that grow rather large naturally. I don't recall details but I had a conversation whith Dan a while back and he was talking about chickens that were huge by your usual standards. Maybe if you're taking a road trip you can arrange to stock up...? Time it right and there might be fish being caught then too.

Wow what a great place. I think I'm going down there to roast a big clucker over the fire. They offer marshmallows and a fire but i'll bring my own grill and get busy. Thanks for the link

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I was talking about this problem to the butcher at Windsor meats the other day, and he said it's not so much a matter of the artificially fed chickens being bloated with chemicals, etc. as the free-range birds growing very slowly. Makes sense.

I finally went to Whole Foods (or, as we call it, Whole Paycheque), and got a fresh 5lb free range bird. It cost $27.

Paul B

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I was talking about this problem to the butcher at Windsor meats the other day, and he said it's not so much a matter of the artificially fed chickens being bloated with chemicals, etc. as the free-range birds growing very slowly.  Makes sense.

I finally went to Whole Foods (or, as we call it, Whole Paycheque), and got a fresh 5lb free range bird.  It cost $27.

:shock:

Augh! WTF?

I buy chicken from Lyle @ Cow Bay Farms, and he charges about $3lb, retail. Fortunately, he delivers them to my place of work. I think he'd deliver to anyone in town, with a small minimum order. These birds aren't free range, but pasture run, which I think is better.

I see why you call it Whole Paycheque. Maybe it's time you move to Vancouver Island.

-- Matt.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Good advice all.

Went back to Whole Foods yesterday for another chicken. They had some on special (something like $3.99 a lb.). I got a five pounder for $20. It was, I have to say, one of the best chickens I've had in a long time. May go back and buy several to store.

Paul B

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Side question:

What is the dish called when you stuff different birds into each other?

turducken

In the Victorian era a similar dish was called:

'Pandora's cushion' also known as a 'Victorian stuffed Goose'. This consists of a boned out fresh goose stuffed with a boned out fresh chicken stuffed with a boned out fresh pheasant stuffed with a boned out quail at its center all hand stitched back into the original shape of the goose.

Still available in London: Coppin Bros

In the Middle Ages there was a dish called Trojan Hog - a pig stuffed with various fowl and seafood.

Cheers,

Anne

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What I really want is a chicken the size of a Turkey.

It is called a Capon.

Kidd Brothers has free range chicken and wing tat chicken producers does most of the processing for specialty chicken in the lower main land. Call them and find out whom they are processing for.

steve

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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What I really want is a chicken the size of a Turkey.

It is called a Capon.

Kidd Brothers has free range chicken and wing tat chicken producers does most of the processing for specialty chicken in the lower main land. Call them and find out whom they are processing for.

steve

Isn't a capon just a chicken castrato? Do they grow bigger for some reason?

The sea was angry that day my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

George Costanza

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Isn't a capon just a chicken castrato? Do they grow bigger for some reason?

Yep... or 'unsexed'. Theory has it that once the young male has been castrated, he has no sex-drive so he just lies around and eats. The lack of exercise and focus on eating means you get a larger, tender bird.

eta: Are capons easily available in Vancouver?

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I certainly haven't noticed them around, but they may be available through specialty shops.

The sea was angry that day my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

George Costanza

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  • 2 months later...
i'm not an expert nor a farmer, so i may be wrong...but i don't think you can get free range chickens BIG because they're free range. the reason conventional (factory farm) chickens are so large is because they're plumped up on purpose (and hence really fatty) with a combination of drugs, injections, special feed, etc. Free range birds get a lot of exercise and get fed better food so they turn out smaller and leaner -- but tastier!

That's spot on. Those super size chickens that you see in supermarkets are quite literally mutant hybrids on steroids injected with brine.

Cook two birds - it'll always taste better, or make an interesting stuffing to pad it out.

I read something involving this in the book The Way We Eat : Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason.

"Chickens have been bred over many generations to produce the maximum amount of meat in the least amount of time. They now grow three times as fast as chickens raised in the 1950s while comsuming one-third as much feed. But this relentless pursuit of efficiency has come at a cost: their bone growth is outpaced by the growth of their muscles and fat. One study found that 90 percent of broilers had detectable leg problems, while 26 percent suffered chronic pain as a result of bone disease. Professor John Webster of the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Science has said: 'Broilers are the only livestock that are in chronic pain for the last 20 percent of their lives. They don't move around, not because they are overstocked, but because it hurts their joints so much.' Sometimes vertebrae snap, causing paralysis. Paralyzed birds or birds whose legs have collapsed cannot get to food or water, and--because the growers don't bother to, or don't have time to, check on individual birds--die of thirst or starvation."

edit: typo

Edited by barritz (log)
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