Chicken may be America’s favorite source of protein, but not all poultry is created equal. Fortunately for Loudoun families, local farms not only adhere to the best responsible and sustainable practices, but are also leading the way on innovation. Most chickens raised on family farms in Loudoun County are raised in free-range or pasture environments, which is very different from the industrial standards of large scale operations.
Instead of being limited in their diet, free-range chickens eat a mix of bugs, vegetation, grain and anything else that catches their attention. Instead of being limited in their exercise to increase their weight, free-range chickens are encouraged to move about freely and protect each other from predators. Instead of finding a dominant breed of chickens in Loudoun County, the biodiversity is a major strength.
Tastes Like Chicken
Chicken is considered one of the healthiest and most affordable sources of lean protein, especially from the chicken breast. This is one reason why chicken is an easy main course, when roasted, baked, grilled or broiled; but it can also be added to a salad, pasta or sandwich.
An added benefit of chicken meat is that it has natural levels of tryptophan, a feel-good chemical commonly associated with turkey dinner. While tryptophan can make you a bit sleepy, it has also been known to boost serotonin levels for a naturally happy vibe. When combined with the high levels of B5 vitamins also found in chicken, the result can be a meal that naturally reduces your stress levels.
Find Local Poultry
Factory farms tend to cull chicken flocks after only six weeks. Free-range breeds grow and mature more slowly, typically taking 16 weeks.
Not Just Chickens
Chickens get all the attention, but there are many other forms of domesticated poultry found on farms in Loudoun County. Ducks are also popular in poultry dishes, providing high levels of protein, iron and selenium, providing a richer flavor and higher levels of fat. Geese are known for having higher levels of iron than most barnyard animals, and also provide natural sources of riboflavin and vitamin B-6 for healthy skin, hair and nerves. Turkeys have a storied tradition in Loudoun County, where both wild and domesticated breeds call home. Through the 1950s, Loudoun was home to two of the largest turkey farms in the U.S., providing the lunch counter meat for People Drug Store and Thanksgiving dinners everywhere.
Three times in the last 10 years, the turkeys officially pardoned by the White House on Thanksgiving have gone on to live out their years at Morven Park, which was former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis’ turkey farm until 1942.
DID YOU KNOW?
Chickens are rather omnivorous, happily eating plants, grains, insects, amphibians, rodents and reptiles.