Do you remember in 2006 when the world was going to end, carried to it's death on the wings of bird flu- the worldwide pandemic that was going to kill up to 50%
of the population? Do you remember the ABC movie that year, Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America, a really bad movie capitalizing on (and helping generate)
unreasonable fears about the 2005 outbreak of avian influenza in Southeast Asia and parts of Europe? The movie exploited headline exaggerated fears. The
background issue was the food we eat. Shouldn't we be frightened? After all, the thing that was going to end civilization was chicken; chicken raised and
processed for food. Obviously what was happening in other parts of the world would explode in the United States because of the quantity of chickens raised right
in your backyard!
Okay, maybe folks were more gullible in 2005 and 2006. Today we are sharp. No cheesy made for TV dramas for us; no, today we savor documentaries, like Food, Inc. A movie that says things like, "Our food supply has never been more unsafe". Or, "anyone who processes large numbers of food animals abuse the animals and their employees". Or, if you raise more than a backyard flock of organic chickens you will "abuse your chickens, abuse your employees and abuse the people of other cultures".
Sigh. Sometimes this is so very wearying; the use of food disease or food business or food processes to manipulate, badger or frighten folks to believe a specific point of view. The entertainment & news media does it, politicians do it and people seeking to make a quick buck do it: latch onto the current hot thing, shake it up and make a splash.
We at Gerber invite you to do something different: take a deep breath and think about your food. Don't give into the current hype (whatever it may be today). Consider what you want, consider what you need and then find it. Ask questions. Compare. Require honesty; and if you don't sense that you get it, walk away.
The Food Think ™ portion of our website answers questions often raised by customers. We will endeavor to keep it updated and relevant. Please contact us with your question if we have not addressed it here or elsewhere on our website.
Thank you for thinking about your food; and for thinking about Gerber's Amish Farm chicken.
Better Feed. Better Taste.
That's Gerber's position. It's what differentiates us from every other brand. Gerber's Amish Farm Chicken tastes better because our family has taken
the time to perfect our feeding formula and the way we raise our chickens. We've worked with our feed suppliers, nutritionist's, animal welfare consultants,
farmers, and caretakers for nearly six decades to develop a nutritious diet and a safe, healthy living environment for our chickens. We are proving that a
well-nourished, contented chicken means a better-tasting chicken.
There's nothing unnatural about the way we raise or feed our chickens. We raise our chickens on an all-vegetable diet with no additives or antibiotics. Farm-fresh goodness is all you taste; the taste that will keep you coming back for more.
Better feed, better taste. It really is that simple. And of course, behind the that simple is a lot of hard work on our part; hard work that we are willing to do in the care and feeding of our chickens. Try Gerber's Amish Farm Chicken. You will want to join the hundreds of others who have written us declaring that the quality and taste of our chicken is clearly unmatched by any other.
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Gerber's Amish Farm Chickens
Are Strict Vegetarians.
This is no accident. In our 60 years of experience we have learned a thing or two about feeding chickens. We know what it takes to give our
chickens a diet that gives you a great taste. Our unique feed formula of cereal grain and vegetable oil with added vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, aids
in digestion and provides proper balance for chicken's dietary needs and overall well being.
Gerber's nutritionist's constantly monitor our chickens' diets, but one thing has never changed - and it never will : everything our chickens consume is 100 percent natural. From the time they're hatched to the day they're processed, our farmers and caretakers closely manage everything the chickens eat and drink, and watch their daily intake of vitamin and mineral-enhanced feeds. A healthy, balanced, vegetable based all natural diet allows us to raise our chickens without any artifical ingredients or antibiotics. Safe and healthy, a better diet really does mean better taste!
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No Additives, No Antibiotics... Nothing But Great Taste.
Some producers want their chickens as big as possible as soon as possible. They often use unnatural practices to gain a perceived advantage. They believe
additives, antibiotics, and byproducts will help in their endeavors. Their chickens may get to weight quicker, but they don't have the advantage of living the
all-natural, healthy lifestyle of Gerber's Amish Farm chickens.
Our chickens never consume feed with antibiotics or unnatural additives. Never! At Gerber's it's all about raising and feeding our chickens the right way, the healthy way. You'll never find meat or bone meal, fish meal, bakery by-products, medicinal growth stimulants, antibiotics, hormones, or additives containing arsenic or arsenic compounds in Gerber's feed and water program.
Our feed is manufactured to our specifications by a feed mill with whom we have had a trustworthy business relationship for over 20 years. We have on file a letter of guarantee from our feed manufacturer stating that no antibiotics are added to the feed or water. We also have letters on file from each farmer stating the same for any flock packaged under the Gerber's Amish Farm Chicken label.
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Gerber's vs. Organic and
Today, there's a lot of talk about organically raised and free-range chickens. There can be advantages to both raising, but Gerber's all-natural chicken
has the leading characteristics of both. What can be said about organic and free-range methods of raising chickens is that neither practice assures a more-healthy
or better-tasting chicken. Only Gerber's all-natural method of raising chickens can give you a taste guaranteed to please.
Organically fed chickens are chemical- and pesticide-free. However, that alone does not guarantee a stress free environment or better taste. Gerber's Amish Farm Chickens are raised in a protected stress free environment and we promise you great taste.
There is much said about "free-range" chicken. The regulatory definition for free-range is that the chickens must have access to the outside. Under that definition a company could raise their chickens in a windowless house, have a small door in the end of the chicken house that allowed chickens to go outside into an enclosure and label their product free range chicken even though there is no guarantee that any of the chickens ever saw the light of day. That is because chicken houses have water and feed available throughout the length of the house. Chickens will stay where there is food and water, so they do not wander very much. Only a tiny percentage of chickens (or possibly none at all) raised with this type of access to the outside would venture away from food and water through the door. Chickens are, well, chicken; they are easily spooked and are curious only if it involves finding food. Therefore, free range claims on some packaging are rightly suspect. Unless one knows the producer of free range chickens free range claims should be viewed with some skepticism.
Even legitimately outside roaming chickens present no safety or health advantage to the consumer. Chickens left to their own devices are simply scavengers. They will eat anything they can peck at: seed, insects and what one would consider healthy things; but also dead rodents, dead or injured chickens, animal feces, garbage, etc. Neither are free range practices particularly beneficial to the chicken. Chickens are easily infected by wild bird diseases (hence the concerns over a domestic avian flu outbreak) and susceptible to prey and infection from wild animals and rodents. When the chickens are given, as we give, plenty of fresh air; plenty of fresh clean water and wholesome feed, the nastiest of the chicken's natural habits are mitigated and some natural threats removed. While "Free-Range" can be a clever marketing tag, again, it does nothing to guarantee a more healthy or wholesome chicken.
House Density typical among Gerber Poultry growers supply a minimum of .85 square foot per chicken raised to processing age. Prior to reaching the target process size they have much more than 1 square foot per chicken. Now, about or less than 1 sq ft sounds crowded. However, keep in mind that chickens are communal animals; they are flock birds, not solitary birds & are naturally oriented toward clustering in flocks. If they are too crowded they become agitated & must fight for food, water & maneuverability. On the opposite end, if there is too much room (too few chickens for the space) they likewise become panicky, possibly due to a sense of no protection. Chickens are content with constant light contact with other chickens at all times; a crowded shopping mall density. Three chickens placed in a 1 cubic foot box to go to market would travel comfortably. In our houses, the density is such that they are in contact with each other as needed but can move freely. When a farm manager or technician walks through the house the chickens move out of the way easily and open up a circle of about 4 to 6 feet in diameter; and this without having to rush or climb over each other.
What makes Gerber's Amish Farm Country Chicken better is the best of both worlds - our chickens are fed an entirely all-natural diet and are raised cage-free with plenty of room to roam, which promotes great taste. Chickens that are treated right and fed right definitely taste the best, guaranteed.
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Factory Farms vs.
Ever wonder what a "factory farm" is? Is it a farm that grows factories in little rows like lettuce's; or a factory that makes farms? Whatever
it is, a factory farm is big and scary and managed by those who want to do harm to you, your children and poison your dog. Right? Some would have you think so.
"Factory farm" is a phrase created to short circuit your ability to think by eliciting a specific negative emotional reaction to a vague meaningless set of
words. In other words, the goal of the phrase "factory farm" is to manipulate, rather than express truth.
For example, the recent film Food Inc. alleges to showcase the operation of a "factory farm." This film insinuates that the chickens are raised in tiny cages, pumped with growth stimulants, growing so fast that their bodies cannot adjust and they're not able to walk or move normally. This is not the way Gerber's raises and cares for our chickens. Putting aside emotional manipulation, let's look at Gerber Amish Farm Chicken.
We do process about 65,000 chickens a day. This seems huge; and honestly, it is a lot of chicken. However, for perspective, consider that one of the poultry giants produces in less than one hour what Gerber produces in one week. Still, some would consider both of us "factory farms"; so what makes Gerber different?
From the day Gerber's eggs hatch until the day of processing, our chickens are cared for on family owned Amish farms. The personal touch our farmers offer and the all-natural, antibiotic free diet they feed our chickens are the most impactful elements in the taste you discover in our products. We proudly continue the Gerber's tradition of raising our chickens on family farms. Each of the chickens we process daily has experienced the personal touch of our farmers and has eaten the best-available diet in a wholesome small farm environment.
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Though we are a 60-year old company, and one still owned and managed by the children of the founder, we are not set in our ways: everyone here regards Gerber as a
continual work in progress. We all seek to develop, grow and improve in supplying great tasting, quality, safe chicken in a market flooded by cheap commodity chicken
Consider the following examples proving our intention to grow and become better at what we do and what we supply:
- Before there was much of a band wagon for antibiotic free chicken Gerber dropped all antibiotics from our chicken's feed, from our newly hatched chicks, from our eggs and even from the layer flocks supplying our eggs.
- Years ago the chicken industry began using arsenic as a feed additive; while this direction was being embraced by most of the chicken industry, and before arsenic or arsenic derivatives ever became a concern to consumers, Gerber made the decision that arsenic would never be part of our feed mix. It never has.
- Not many people are concerned today about animal by-products in chicken feed (spent restaurant cooking oils, pet food by-products, slaughter by-products, animal fat, etc.), but we eliminated such cheap protein sources years ago.
- The feed we use is tested regularly for pesticide residue. On a non-scheduled basis the USDA tests our chicken products for pesticide residue. In our long history all test results have been negative for pesticide residue. Our feed is as safe as any organic or gmo-free feed; and, as noted above, has the added benefit of containing no animal by-products.
- At the request of specific customers, in the winter of 2010 Gerber began developing a live chicken welfare program under the auspices of a nationally recognized humane certification group.
Gerber's handling of live chickens met approximately 95% of the standards prior to program changes. Program changes necessary to meet the remaining 5% of the standards mostly involved the
development of a written program to document every aspect of Gerber's handling of live chickens. The written program is complete and operational. Training audits conducted by the certifying
group have been completed. All Gerber Farm Division techs and growers have been trained in live bird handling. Care is monitored regularly by Gerber farm techs.
Partly in response to media reports, throughout 2012 Gerber weighed the risks of being too closely intertwined with the humane industry; the vast money making industry whose income is generated often by misrepresentation and outright deceit. Gerber chose to sidestep the humane industry and not to complete official certification by the group it had worked with since 2010. Nevertheless, Gerber continues to manage its live bird care program using the guidelines and criteria established for certification purposes. Gerber is reviewing 3rd party verification options of its program through live animal certifying bodies not associated with the humane industry.
In recent years the topic of gmo's has risen. There are many who have asked us about it in our feed, and some who have decided not to buy our chicken because, yes,
we do use gmo feed. To be able to switch to guaranteed gmo-free feed may be another step in our development. However, we are a small company and we cannot afford
guaranteed gmo-free feed. Anyone with an awareness of the corn market will understand that to afford our current feed is a struggle today. Guaranteed gmo-free
feed is triple the cost of our current feed. Such feed expenditures would double the retail price of our chicken and most people simply will not pay that price.
There are some who have read our information regarding gmo's and have decided not to buy our chicken. They disagree that we can use market corn to make our specialized feed recipe and still call it natural. But for every one who disagrees and will not buy our chicken there are 100 who are also informed about gmo's who want Gerber Amish Farm Chicken & are willing to pay it's slightly higher price. But they will not pay twice the current price for guaranteed gmo-free chicken because, like us, they cannot afford it. And, like us, they see no additional health benefit to be derived from chicken raised on gmo-free feed.
One day we may switch to guaranteed gmo-free feed. If it happens that we can find a way to afford gmo-free feed, we would probably switch to it, because in seeking to be as natural as possible we endeavor to eliminate process steps wherever possible.
We understand that for some people natural means non-commercial and that only a tiny backyard flock is natural. Then, there are those who say natural means feral; and that any domestication is unnatural. To some, natural means vegan and for them any meat eating is unnatural. And for some, natural means vegan and raw; they believe that any cooked food is unnatural. We understand and accept that different people hold and often cherish different positions. Gerber's respects anyone who can fully live their convictions. One must draw their line at some specific point and continue to develop from that point. We have drawn our line as noted above and, also as noted, are continuing to develop.
We at Gerber wrestle to live & act our convictions in our commercial setting every day. We understand that sometimes we may be wrong and need to change and we understand that at all times we can grow and develop into even better people and a better company. And we understand that there will be people who simply disagree with us, some who misunderstand us, some who don't know us and may be critical of us based on false or incomplete information. In any case, we fully respect individual's positions, and will work to clearly express ours, even while we do not intend to argue someone into a position to which they are opposed.
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