An Interview with Mary Pitman
We have three kinds of pasture-raised chickens:
- Mary’s Natural Large-Breasted, white feathered chicken
- Mary’s Organic Large-Breasted, white feathered chicken
- Mary’s California Bronze Natural, which is the Rhode Island Red chicken. The Rhode Island Red’s are raised in a pasture where they can run, jump, fly and roost. It takes longer to raise these chickens because of the stringent Step 5 requirements of the Global Animal Partnership.
We have three kinds of pasture-raised turkey:
- Heritage, is like the first Thanksgiving turkey. It’s pasture-raised and they still run, fly and breed naturally.
- Natural – broad-breasted
- Organic – broad-breasted
We also have pasture-raised:
- Pekin Ducks
- Cornish Game Hens
*Each variety of bird is raised on its own farm.
Can you talk about the organic feed given to your birds? I read about rice hulls being trucked in daily from the Sacramento Delta.
We grow some of our own organic corn and are actively converting as many local growers as possible to grow corn and soybeans that aren’t genetically modified. We do grow some of our own feed crops, but can’t grow enough for our needs. We use both organic and non-organic specially formulated non-GMO feed. Presently, we’re not able to purchase enough non-GMO feed.
Not all conventionally grown chicken on the market is fed non-GMO feed. All of Mary’s organic poultry is raised on non GMO feed. It’s important to read the labels. My son David Pitman is in Washington, DC this week with Whole Foods supporting the Non GMO Project.
Mary’s trucks in rice hulls (byproduct of rice milling) from Stockton’s rice fields for their poultry’s plush bedding. 6-8” of luxurious rice hulls are constantly mulched into the bedding areas for these pampered chicks. This bedding protects the bird’s feet, legs and breasts from infections.
Tell us about Mary’s poultry processing
In 2003, Pitman Family Farms converted an old fruit processing plant into their poultry processing plant, ending their dependence on outside processors and gaining complete control over their products from pasture to retailer. In 2012, Pitman Family Farms completed the installation of their state of the art CAS (controlled atmosphere stunning) processing system, which garnered them high regard from PETA and other animal rights groups.
Mary’s uses the humane CAS system to process their birds. The CAS system puts the chickens to sleep using carbon dioxide before they begin the slaughtering process. This is the most humane way to process poultry and prevent stress in the bird before kill. Only two chicken processing plants in the US have the CAS system, used for years in the finest poultry farms in Europe.
How does Mary’s chicken prevent contamination?
At Mary’s, we air-chill our chickens. There is a lot less chance for disease because there is no cross-contamination like there is in water-chilled chickens.
Are all your poultry products certified organic?
Some of our customers want non-organic birds, so we raise both types of chickens.
Talk about your distribution system and the distance your poultry travels to market.
We distribute our products in California via our fleet of Mary’s Poultry Trucks. Smaller stores may purchase our products through one of our distributors. Most of our customers are in California, but we also ship to Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii.
Can you provide a list of retailers in California where we can purchase Mary’s poultry products?
Have you considered Kosher and Halal certification?
We do Halal but not Kosher at this time.
Are any food processors currently using Mary’s poultry in their products?
How many families does Pitman Family Farms support and what is the average tenure of your employees?
Pitman Family Farms supports approximately 500 families in the Central Valley. Some families have been with us for 20-30 years and longer. We are a third generation family owned business and we’re raising the 4th generation.
Sustainability at Pitman Family Farms
Pitman Family Farms sells their manure to Earthbound Farm to fertilize their fields and grow their delicious organic products.
Pitman Family Farms saves 50,000 gallons of water per day by utilizing their air-cooled CAS process.