Their chickens are generally smaller than those bought at mainstream grocery stores.
They also take longer to reach slaughter weight.
For Joel and Loralei Hallet, as well as the growing customer base of their Hallet Family Farm enterprise in Enumclaw, that's OK because for them, the chickens taste better.
They're also better for you, said Joel. The Hallets follow a day range process, inspired by practices such as those at Polyface Farms in Virginia, for raising the chickens which allows them to move about and forage for natural foods like plants, insects and worms. The immediate effect, said Joel, is a higher nutrient profile.
The Hallets raise non-Cornish cross chickens and make a best effort to keep them free of genetically modified feed. However, because the feed is often not labeled thoroughly and the possibility of cross-contamination isn't always indicated, they cannot provide a clearly guarantee of being GMO-free, Joel said.
Meanwhile, the Hallets say they are one of just a few area farms that can guarantee their chickens are soy-free. It wouldn't seem to be that big of a deal, said Loralei, but she estimates at least half of their customers are subject to some level of of soy-sensitivity. One customer who orders chickens in bulk from Marysville told them she hadn't eaten chicken in three to four years because of her soy allergy.
Being Part of the Solution
The Hallets, who moved to Enumclaw from Burien last February, said they spent a year researching sustainable farming practices and working with Seattle Tilth Farm Works to raise their own crops because of "our concern for our own health," said Joel.
Editor's Note: They are also helping to launch a community gardening project at Hope Lutheran Church. Read more.
The commercial food production system in the U.S. is "very broken," he said. The couple decided they needed to do something, in part as an example for their four young children at home that hard work and dedication does make a difference. "We needed to be a part of the solution, not by choosing alternative food but by producing the alternative food," he said
Western Washington is blessed with a bounty of good organic farms that produce good produce, he said, but what is lacking in this area is sustainable livestock farming.
That observation spurred the family to launch a Kickstarter campaign last April to raise enough start-up money to get its broiler operation going. By month's end, they rounded up 56 backers and raised $3,910, which exceeded their original goal of $3,350. They bought their first chicks in May.
In 2013, the Hallets aim to produce four batches of 100 chickens, said Joel. They are sold at a rate of $6 per pound with most birds hovering at about four pounds.
The chickens are slaughtered on site so customers do indeed receive them fresh that day. "It is sad in that respect," said Loralei. "But I know where my animals come from and how they're treated by me. ... That means the world to me."
The Hallets reserve first dibs on each batch of chickens for their Founders Club of backers on Kickstarter, but they maintain communications with returning customers and encourage new customers to follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HalletFamilyFarm for the latest news on ordering opportunities. You can also write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Hallet Family Farm is also a part of the Enumclaw Sustainable Farmers Network which currently includes about 15 local homesteads and/or farmsteads, said Joel.