3.25 lbs ea, whole bird
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.
- Free shipping on orders over $99.
- Ships frozen with dry ice for 1-3 day Express Ground or Air delivery.
- Vital Choice Guarantee: We'll replace your product or refund your money if you're not satisfied.
- 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 https://www.wwf.org.uk/sites/default/files/2017-10/WWF_AppetiteForDestruction_Summary_Report_SignOff.pdf.
- Zuidhof MJ et al. Growth, efficiency, and yield of commercial broilers from 1957, 1978, and 2005. Poultry Science. September 26, 2014
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This recipe comes from the farm, and is tailored to lean heritage chicken.
- 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 DefrostingOne-day-ahead method
Thaw your bird in the refrigerator. A typical frozen bird will take a full day to thaw.
- 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.
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.