What Do We Do With The Processing Waste?
A while back we gave you a closer look at our broiler processing methods, which we believe are an important element in setting our poultry apart from that which is generally available. There's another side of it, another piece that provides a positive impact for our ranch and our environment, and we'd like to share that with you too.
Processing chickens, with any method, results in a considerable amount of waste - and by waste, we mean the parts that are not eaten, not that we let them go to waste. At Rafter W Ranch, this waste is not incinerated; neither is it rendered into cattle feed. Yikes! It stays here on the ranch and, in fact, helps the ranch.
How does that work? Well, put simply, we compost it. It's true it's not as quick or simple as your typical vegetable-scrap compost pile, but it can be done, and offers rich nutrients back into the soil. The trick is to add plenty of wood chips. Why wood chips? Composting is a process by which microbes break materials down into their component parts. Protein (which most of the processing waste consists of) is very high in nitrogen, which is easily lost through the air - if you've ever driven by a feedlot or poultry barn, you'll smell it in the form of ammonia. The way to preserve this valuable fertility (and be a good neighbor) is to add plenty of carbon-rich material, like wood chips. It's why home gardeners mix dry leaves (carbon) with their kitchen scraps or chicken manure (nitrogen) in their compost pile.
Given plenty of time and microbial action, all this waste breaks down into a nutrient rich soil amendment. Composting processing waste is an honorable use of every last bit of our broilers. It won't stink up the neighborhood, and all that wonderful nitrogen will be bound up until it's ready for use by plants and pasture.
So not only do we raise an exceptionally nutritious bird, we process humanely, and we manage the waste in a way that improves our land and stewards the environment. Enjoy a delicious, healthy chicken dinner and know that truly, every aspect of that meal is beneficial and of value.