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Heritage-Breed Chicken 3.25 lbs ea, whole bird
Heritage-Breed Chicken

Heritage-Breed Chicken

3.25 lbs ea, whole bird

Product #FCHW101

Chicken is changing. And this time, it’s a good thing.

Fourth-generation poultry farmer Frank Reese raises his birds in an ethical, natural way that’s as close to wild as possible. In fact, Farm Forward calls his poultry ranch the "gold standard” of healthy animal husbandry.

Read more >
Number of Birds
Heritage-Breed Chicken 3.25 lbs ea, whole bird
$ 43.89 New out of stock
Heritage-Breed Chicken 3.25 lbs ea, whole bird
$ 79.00 New out of stock
Heritage-Breed Chicken 3.25 lbs ea, whole bird
$ 149.00 New out of stock
Heritage-Breed Chicken 3.25 lbs ea, whole bird
$ 199.00 New out of stock


  • Whole heritage chickens
  • Average 3.25 lbs per bird*
  • Each bird feeds 2 to 4 people
  • Humanely raised
  • No antibiotics for growth
  • Free access to pasture
  • Product of USA (Kansas)

*Average order weight: 2 birds - 6.5 lbs. • 4 birds - 13 lbs. • 6 birds - 19.5 lbs.

Top chefs like Mario Batali lavish praise on chicken from Frank's Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch. We're honored to provide you with his fabulous heritage birds ... classic old-school chicken you can enjoy with a clear conscience.

See the Serving/Care tab for a video on to disassemble a whole chicken ... and see the Recipes tab for directions on how to roast these lean birds without drying them out.

Please note: Although most folks find these heritage birds fully satisfying and flavorful, they aren't as uniform, nor as fatty and forgiving as standard commercial chicken.

Here's how one customer put it, in a review titled "Took me back to my childhood":
"Love these 'old fashioned' Vital Choice chickens, but warning ... they are much different than the commonly available big-breasted, fatty, industrial alternatives."

Natural heritage chicken
Frank Reese has returned to traditional chicken breeds and husbandry. His "heritage” breeds offer rich, true chicken flavor that our great-grandparents would recognize.

And he allows the birds to grow slowly, with plenty of space, feeding freely on pasture rich in wild grasses, greens, and bugs.This is why, compared with conventional chicken, Frank's heritage birds have more protein, 60% less fat, 35% fewer calories, and less sodium.

His birds come from the oldest heritage flocks in the country, and meet all Livestock Conservancy requirements for truly natural genetics and growing methods. Their rare heritage genetics give these chickens healthy, natural immune, muscle, skeletal, and reproductive systems.

Frank's birds and natural husbandry stand in stark contrast to the chickens and methods on factory poultry farms: see "Better than organic" and "How American chicken changed", below.

Better than organic
Frank Reese never uses GMO feed, pesticides, or antibiotic feed additives. These are the very same purity and safety standards applied to USDA-certified organic chicken.

But we think Frank's chicken is actually better than most certified-organic chicken. Why do we say this?

First, unlike commercial-scale organic chicken producers — which raise fast-growing, modern hybrids from factory-style hatcheries — Frank's slow-growing, robustly healthy heritage breeds offer rich, natural, chicken flavor.

And unlike Frank's Good Shepherd Ranch, very few commercial-scale organic chicken producers give their birds meaningful access to pasture rich in nutritious insects and plants.

Finally, USDA regulations allow organic chicken farmers to feed their birds ground-up seafood … a practice that puts unnecessary pressure on the world's wild fish populations.

For these reasons and more, we believe that Good Shepherd’s practices go above and beyond USDA standards for organic chicken.

In other words, we think Frank's Heritage Chicken is actually "better than organic".

How American chicken changed
From the 1930s through the 1960's, poultry producers set out to raise bigger, cheaper chickens.

They achieved their goal, but that success resulted in the huge, bland, low-cost birds found in supermarkets.

Poultry producers did it through crossbreeding and by feeding their birds growth-accelerating antibiotics: a practice that may create antibiotic-resistant "super-bugs".

Today's "super-chickens" grow incredibly fast, but have trouble walking and suffer ailments caused by their grotesquely abnormal bodies.

As the journal Poultry Science put it, if humans grew as fast as modern broilers, "a 6.6 lbs. newborn baby would weigh 660 lbs. after two months.”

And, according to a 2017 study by the World Wildlife Fund, it takes six modern, factory farmed chickens to provide the same amount of omega-3s as one chicken from the 1970s.

We will only sell chickens grown naturally, without antibiotic growth-promoters, to a size at or below what the ASPCA calls a chicken’s "skeletal capacity.”



  • The Livestock Conservancy. Definition of Heritage Chicken.
  • World Wildlife Fund. Appetite for Destruction. October 3, 2017. Accessed at
  • Zuidhof MJ et al. Growth, efficiency, and yield of commercial broilers from 1957, 1978, and 2005. Poultry Science. September 26, 2014

Average Ratings: 4

Write a Review
"Heritage chicken" Connie I on 11/29/2017 04:13 Review: Would not buy this product again. Extremely disappointing. This was our Thanksgiving dinner and meat was tough and birds had very little breast meat. I will buy locally for chicken from now on. All other fish and seafood products from Vital Choice have been excellent. I will continue to order those products in the future. - Thank you for ordering with Vital Choice. We are sorry to hear your disappointment in the Chickens. Our Customer Service Team will reach out to you today regarding this order. Thank you. The Vital Choice Team

"Heritage Chicken Whole Chickens" Katrina Ames on 07/07/2017 10:30 Review: These chickens were skinny and tough. I baked them at 325 basting and we did not like them. They were chewy and toug Thank you for sharing your comments. A customer service agent will contact you today.

"Took me back to my childhood" Jerry S. on 05/08/2017 14:20 Review: Love these "old fashioned" Vital Choice chickens, but WARNING...they are much different than the commonly available big-breasted, fatty, industrial organic alternatives.

Read more reviews >
This preparation keeps lean heritage chicken as moist and as tender as possible.
Pan Roasted Heritage Chicken
This recipe comes from the farm, and is tailored to lean heritage chicken.
Prep time 1 hour,  Cook time 25 minutes
Serves 4–6


  • 1 heritage chicken cut into 8 skin-on
    pieces (saving wings for stock)
  • ¾ tsp salt, divided
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 spring onions, root end trimmed & light part sliced into 2” pieces (green part saved for another use) or 10 whole pearl onions*
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 lb asparagus trimmed and halved
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tsp organic extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp red chili flakes
  • ¾ cup chicken bone broth or water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

*If using pearl onions, a small
amount of prep is needed to easily
remove the skin. Cut the ends off
both sides of the onion and place in
boiling water for 2 minutes. Strain &
cool the onions before removing the


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Season chicken with ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper on both sides. Let sit for an hour.
  3. Toss the spring onion (or pearl onions), garlic, asparagus & thyme with oil, ¼ tsp salt and chile flakes.
  4. Heat oven-safe skillet on stove over medium-high and allow to get hot. Add butter and swirl in the pan.
  5. Add chicken skin side down. Cook until skin crisps (5 mins). Turn chicken. If the skin sticks to the pan it is not ready to turn!
  6. Add vegetables to pan in a single layer. Put pan in oven and roast for 12 minutes or until chicken is cooked and registers 165°F.
  7. Remove pan from oven. Divide vegetables and chicken among plates, leaving the thyme in the pan.
  8. Return the skillet to stove top over medium heat. Stir in stock and lemon juice. Cook to heat the stock, about 3 – 5 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken and garnish with chopped thyme.

  • Keep frozen.
  • Keeps for up to one year when frozen.
  • Your birds will arrive frozen, vacuum-sealed, and ready to go straight into the freezer.
  • Do NOT cut open the vacuum-sealed bag until it's time to cook the bird.

Safe Defrosting

One-day-ahead method

Thaw your bird in the refrigerator. A typical frozen bird will take a full day to thaw.

Quick-thaw method

  • Submerge your vacuum-sealed heritage chicken in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes.
  • An average chicken (3.25 lbs) should thaw completely within 3-4 hours.
Do not allow a thawed bird to sit at room temperature for more than 30 minutes before cooking.

Cutting and Cooking

After it is completely thawed, you should cook your bird within 2 days to maintain its freshness and quality.

Follow standard instructions for cooking chicken, which vary by method. Our heritage-breed birds are substantially leaner than standard supermarket chicken, and will tend to cook faster.

For enhanced flavor, consider brining your chicken. First, thaw and rinse the bird well. Dissolve ½ cup kosher salt in one gallon of water, and immerse your bird in this solution for a minimum of 2 hours, or overnight.

Our chickens are shipped to you whole ... here's a great video showing some simple ways to disassemble them:

Frozen foods are packed with dry ice
and ship Monday through Wednesday (except holidays).

Frozen foods ship via 2nd Day Air service or 1-3 Day Express Ground service, depending on shipping date and destination.

Standard Shipping Fees

  • Up to $49.99 = $4.95 shipping
  • $50 - $98.99 = $9.95 shipping
  • $99 and over = FREE shipping

Overnight shipping and other premium services cost extra; for more information, see our Shipping page. (Live shellfish ship overnight at no extra cost.)

  • We cannot ship perishable goods to PO boxes.
  • Free standard shipping applies to all orders of $99 or more sent to any U.S. street address.
  • Perishable shipments to Alaska and Hawaii are subject to surcharges; please see our Shipping page.

When will my frozen foods arrive?

  • Orders placed Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or before 10 AM Tuesday will ship on Tuesday* to arrive 1-3 days later.
  • Orders placed between 10 AM Tuesday and 10 AM Wednesday will ship on Wednesday* to arrive 1-2 days later.
  • Orders placed after 10 AM on Wednesday through 12:00 midnight Friday will ship on Monday* to arrive 1-3 days later.

*Except when a holiday falls on the designated shipping day.

For more information, see our Shipping page.

Randy Hartnell