Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE99-248.
Barb Groski raises pastured poultry. She believes the meat and eggs from pastured poultry are healthier than those of chickens raised in confinement, but she had no proof. This project involved running chemical and microbial analyses on samples of pasture-raised chickens and eggs, in hope of obtaining objective validation for her belief.
Barb and two other farmers collected samples of the eggs and meat of their pastured chickens and sent those for laboratory testing. Composite samples were made and these were tested for their nutritional value and content of fat, cholesterol and conjugated linoleic acids. Unprocessed chicken carcasses from one farm, Ms. Gorski’s were washed with sterile phosphate buffer solution and the rinsate analyzed for microbial activity.
Meat of the pastured chickens was found to display 21% less fat, 30% less saturated fat and 50% more vitamin A than the USDA standard for chicken meat. Skinless meat displayed no significant differences from the standard; it consequently appears that these healthy attributes of pasture-raised chickens are wholly to be found in the skin.
Eggs of the pastured chickens contained 34% less cholesterol, 10% less fat, 40% more vitamin A, twice as much omega-6 fatty acid and four times as much omega-3 fatty acid as the USDA standard.
No samples were found to contain any conjugated linoleic acids. These acids, desirable for their anti-carcinogenic properties, do occur in turkey meat; however, according to Dr. Michael Pariza of the University of Wisconsin, they are not generally found in chicken products.
Microbial examination revealed no salmonella, campylobacter or listeria monocytogens in samples of surface rinstate. Escherichia coli was however present at unacceptable levels in two samples and at marginal levels in the remaining three. These high levels may however have resulted from the delay of some 48 hours that elapsed between slaughter and sampling.
Ms. Gorski has made use of this data by putting them on nutrient labels, which she now attaches to her pastured poultry products.