50 Italian red broiler cockerel chicks just arrived!
They’re settling in nicely in our homemade brooder. We have 2 infrared lights hanging for warmth, some nice warm molasses water to perk them up after their trip to our farm, and they’re starting to peck at the grower feed already!
They’re fluffy and adorable — but they’re going to grow fast and go through an awkward teenage stage before you know it!
The kids are loving them — the dog is VERY interested in them, and can’t be trusted! And lets hope the cat never gets near them!
This breed has an interesting history as to how it arrived in the U.S. I found this story a few days ago in an issue of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association newsletter from 2007.
Italian Pastured Broiler Available in US
By Jean Nick
Early in 2007 Moyer’s Chicks quietly added a new type of broiler to their price list.
The first I heard of it was at the PASA (Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Farming) conference in February. I stopped at the Moyer’s booth to chat with Leon Moyer and he gave me a flier about the K-22 broiler.
He told me it had been developed in Italy for raising on pasture. My eyes bulged slightly at the lack of fanfare for this momentous addition, and we promptly added some K-22 chicks to each of our first few Cornish-cross orders.
I was curious to know more about the K-22 so Leon put me in touch with Gary Proctor, a long-time poultry producer, and president of Avicola America, the company that has introduced the K-22 the U.S. market. Avicola America is owned by Pure-line Genetics LLC (http://purelinegenetics.com), a company that produces a range of standard Cornish cross hybrids.
Gary explained that a few years ago Rob Saglio, CEO of Pureline, attended a trade show in Italy. His booth was next to the Avicola Olandia (http://www.olandia.it/public/ inglese/home_en.htm), an Italian company that has been breeding pastured chickens for almost half a century. It currently ships many thousands of chicks to pastured poultry operations across Europe and the Middle East.
Rob was invited to their house in Rome for a chicken supper, declared theirs to be by far the best chicken he had ever eaten, and Avicola America was formed to distribute Avicola chickens in the U.S.
The K-22 (or Kosmos 22) has red or red and black plumage, is a vigorous, healthy bird that forages well, and has a docile nature. It has the body conformation of a heritage bird (long single breast, rather than the short double breast of a Cornish-cross type broiler). The skin is yellow, and the meat is flavorful with a good texture.
In the spring of 2006 Avicola America was allowed to import the eggs that would hatch into the first U.S. breeding flocks of K-22s. Avicola America chose Moyer’s as their only hatchery, both to produce chicks for a handful of large growers as well as to hatch additional K- 22 chicks for sale to the general poultry-raising public.
Later in 2006 Avicola America raised 2,000 of the K-22s and asked the Culinary Institute of America to try them. The Institute proclaimed them the most delicious chickens they had ever tasted and placed an order for 1,000 birds a week, starting as soon as they could be supplied.
Avicola America is developing a brand logo for the K-22, which will be available for use by anyone raising them. They are also establishing a second egg-production flock to increase production. Leon says Moyer’s expects to have a good supply of the K-22s all year.
Our first batch of K-22s is six weeks old as I write this. They are somewhat more active than the same- age CXs they are in with and are definitely growing a little slower than the CXs. We are impatiently watching them grow and looking forward inviting the first of them to dinner soon!
Board member Jean Nick runs Happy Farm in Kintersville, PA with her part- ner Tom Colbaugh. She has a day job with Rodale as a writer and re- searcher.