1 What’s Special About Our Chicken?

It is much heavier breasted. Its flavor is distinct and noticeably better. In general, it produces less fat when cooked. It contains less absorbed water than commodity chickens chilled in giant continuous chillers and pre-chillers. You can see the difference, both raw and cooked, by way of a side-by-side comparison. Its texture is firmer due to the breed of the bird, the room that the birds are given to move around in and the absence of antibiotics in the feed.

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2 What do you feed your chickens and what don’t you feed your chickens?

Wellington Farms free roaming chickens are fed a diet of pesticide-free corn, soybean meal and soybean oil as an added energy source. The feed ingredients are milled into a powder and pelletized. Included in the feed formula mix is an all natural vitamin and mineral blend.

Our feeds contain no animal by-products (used fryer fat from fast food restaurants, rendered poultry or animal fat, feather meal, or fishmeal), no bakery by-products, and no antibiotics EVER.

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3 What’s the difference between FREE RANGE and FREE ROAMING?

Chickens raised FREE RANGE are provided with access to the outdoors whereas FREE ROAMING chickens are not provided with outdoor access. Wellington Farms FREE ROAMING CHICKENS are given plenty of space to roam freely indoors. They eat and drink in spacious screened natural daylight housing protected against wild predator animals and potential disease-carrying wild birds.

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4 What Qualities Differentiate One Brand of Chicken from Another?

There may be many. There is a big difference among the various breeds of chickens offered in the marketplace. Numerous companies compete in order to produce the fastest growing, best feed converting, lowest fat, biggest breasted, disease resistant, egg producing strain. Geneticists cross breed constantly in order to produce the perfect chicken. The winner reaps huge rewards, and the latest test flock results are guarded as if they are classified as a national security top priority matter. However, the best feed converter is not necessarily the best chicken from the consumer’s point of view. Most consumers want big-breasted birds. Consumers don’t want to see bruises or imperfections. Most have a color preference but don’t know why.

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5 Why do they cost more?

Because they cost the grower and processor more to grow, more to process, more to package. They eat more feed; they take longer to grow, require more space within which to grow and require more labor to oversee their growth. The elimination of by-products greatly increases the feed cost of the chicken, too. We pay our family farmers more than the average broiler producers pay their farmers so that our growers can remain sustainable family farms. It’s a practice we strongly believe in and follow.

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6 What does “All Natural” Mean?

The USDA’s definition pertains only to how the chicken is processed, whether or not any substance such as a basting additive is injected into the bird at the processing plant. If nothing is added at the processing level, the “All Natural” claim can be made provided it is qualified with the “Minimally Processed” statement that must accompany it. It has nothing to do with how the bird is raised, what it is fed or what it is medicated with, as long as no “artificial ingredient” is administered.

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7 What is AIR CHILLED and what makes AIR CHILLED chicken better?

With few exceptions , all chickens are presently water-chilled. Federal law allows water absorption up to 12% of carcass weight, and chicken companies want to sell water. It's cheaper than chicken!  Water chilled birds are immersed in ambient temperature water-filled chillers where absorption takes place. The chickens then travel to the main chiller where they are again immersed into circulating water intended to bring carcass temperatures down to less than 40 degrees. These chillers are community style baths into which each day's birds go in and out. What's on or inside of one bird may also end up on another.

With air chilling, each bird makes no contact with another and absorbs no water because it never is immersed or sprayed with water. It loses around 1% of its weight during the air-chilling process. What this means is that bacteria counts are 80% lower than those of water-chilled chickens and extends useful shelf life significantly. It provides for a distinctly different flavor and texture because the natural juices, proteins and enzymes remain in the meat during cooking whereas they are lost with water-chilled birds.

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8 Vaccinations & Antibiotics

All chickens are vaccinated at the hatchery for Marek’s and Newcastle disease. They are subsequently vaccinated for coccidiosis when placed in growout buildings or brooder houses. Vaccines are not antibiotics. The difference is totally in the use (or non use) of antibiotics as growth enhancers, stress reducers and disease preventers. Antibiotics are used by the large commodity broiler chicken companies for primarily 3 reasons. They enable chickens to survive in crowded growing conditions, promote accelerated weight gain resulting in better feed conversion ratios and reduce stress within the flock which in turn lowers flock mortality rates. All of the above are intended to enhance profits. However, chicken quality is sacrificed in the process.

Wellington Farms uses no fish, bakery or animal by-products in its feeds. We use 100% soybean oil in our feeds as an energy ingredient.

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9 What about Growth Hormones? Does Wellington Farms use them on their chickens?

It is against federal law to administer growth hormones to ANY POULTRY and has been against the law for more than 50 years. Chicken companies making label claims stating that their chickens contain no growth hormones must also state on the label that it is against federal law to do so. Those companies choosing to make such claims are doing so in an attempt to mislead consumers into believing that companies not making the “no growth hormone” claims administer growth hormones which they don’t.

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10 What about exposure to Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)?

The reason Wellington Farms chickens switched from being raised FREE RANGE to FREE ROAMING is due to the potential risk of exposure to Bird Flu. Allowing chickens access to outdoors invites the risk of coming in contact with wild birds which have been identified as likely carriers of Bird Flu.

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11 What is the Difference Between a Yellow Chicken and a White One?

The answer is simple; only the color. It has nothing to do with the quality of the meat, its fat content or how it was raised. It is a marketing tool only. Depending upon the contents of the feed, including the use of corn versus wheat in the feed formula, the resulting color will vary accordingly from pale white to bright yellow and all shades in between.

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