(If your interested in the American Bresse, go to our Store)
It has been a very busy month here at Sunbird Farms. We are controlling pests in the orchards, irrigating, hatching eggs, and bringing in new birds. Now that things are slowing a bit, we thought we’d catch up on our Bresse project.
If you remember back to the beginning, our “modified” approach to the cultural aspects of raising these birds included using a tractor in our orchard. Well, we had to modify the modified approach. Having 13 birds working in the tractor as we pulled it along the native pasture worked great, until it didn’t. At some point, the bird just got too big. Good problem to have. We became aware of this when we noticed some feather picking going on. We immediately removed the “picked-on” birds and put them in a safe place to recover. They weren’t injured, but we didn’t want to risk further pecking/picking and possible injury. After talking to family and friends, we realized they were just bored. So we began efforts to build a second tractor and split the flock. In the meantime though, we decided to leave one end of the tractor propped up every day. So the birds could sneak under and out, and then return and night when we would come along and close up the tractor. As you might have guessed, problem solved. There was no need for a second tractor. The 20 acres of property has turned out to be more than ample. They are now “unlimited” range as Label Rouge would say, and they are loving it. In fact, this is actually much closer to the French method: free range by day, housed at night. However, as we move closer to the processing age, we are considering how we might limit the range again, possibly with portable fencing and employing the second tractor, as a means of improving meat quality. We have been very pleased with their growth. In just over two weeks, some of our cockerels added nearly 1.5lbs. That’s no Cornish-X, but we are delighted. The final product remains to be seen, but we are thoroughly enjoying this process.
Coming soon, we will begin our Black Bresse project.
On a quick side note…we were asked by a friend recently about the California Poulet de Bleu and if that is what we were aiming for. The short answer is no. While the California Poulet de Bleu, or California Blue Foot, is touted as a “descendent” of the French Bresse, it is in fact NOT a French Bresse, but a bird bred to replicate the Bresse. That’s not to say that it’s not a delicious bird, we don’t know, we’ve never tried one. It’s just to say that our stock came directly from Greenfire Farms and are hatched from Greenfire’s own breeding stock. These birds were originally imported from Europe. You can read more about the creation of the California Poulet de Bleu, or California Blue Foot, here.