2013 - Volume #37, Issue #2, Page #44[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
"World's Biggest" Rooster Enjoyed A Good Life On Pasture
The Ritters raise pastured poultry on their Sugarloaf, Penn. farm. They purposely double some of their flock’s time on pasture to 16 weeks or more to raise 10 to 18-lb. (dressed) “holiday birds” for some of their customers.
“When Big Boy reached 18 to 19 lbs., we decided to keep him longer to see what would happen,” Sue Ritter explains. “We weren’t trying to break any records. He was just bigger than the others even though he was raised the same way.”
Big Boy is a cross between a Plymouth Rock and “Giant” Cornish, known for its large size. He lived on pasture – moved daily – with supplemental feed just like the other birds. Despite his large size he was healthy and got around just fine.
He was hatched April 3, 2012, at Moyer’s Chicks of Quakertown, Penn. In September he took an hour and a half ride back to Quakertown to be officially weighed on a certified scale made by the Precision Solutions, Inc. scale company of Quakertown.
“Everything was documented with all the required photographs and video,” Ritter says. It wasn’t accepted by Guinness, however, as they no longer monitor livestock weight records.
Big Boy achieved his potential adult size before he died when the nights became colder and the grass quit growing. The meat breed is not meant to be long-lived, Ritter notes.
Big Boy’s extreme weight may be unusual, but the Ritters have created a successful market raising larger size birds for the holidays. They personally prefer chicken instead of turkey.
One Thanksgiving when a daughter insisted they follow tradition with a turkey, the family had an informal taste-off comparing it to a 16-lb. (dressed) Cornish-Rock cross chicken the Ritters raised.
“The flavorful Thanksgiving chicken won,” Ritter says. “It’s more moist, has more yield and much more white meat in comparison.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Sue and Don Ritter, Absolute Pastured Poultry, 572 W. County Rd., Sugarloaf, Penn. 18249 (ph 570 788-1044; www.pasturepens.com/world-record).
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