Raising Healthy Chickens with Tyler Dawley: Rational Wellness Podcast 289

Tyler Dawley discusses How to Raise Healthy Chickens with Dr. Ben Weitz.

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Podcast Highlights

3:54  Sustainable or regenerative agriculture does not have an exact definition, but Tyler understands it to be paying attention to the entire chain of our ecosystem.  If you are a conventional row cropper you might just grow corn, pour fertilizer on it, and expect a good harvest.  But as a sustainable rancher, you have to think about the mycorrhizal fungi, which are all the little fun things that grow in the soil.  You should worry about how much leaf cover there is and how much solar energy is being captured.  If you are a sustainable animal raiser, then you have to think about how to use these animals to graze the grass and brush without destroying it. If animal graze too long in the same area, they will degrade the land. In nature, the wildebeest get chased around by lions or coyotes, so they never graze too long in one area.  It is up to us to make sure they move around to different areas so the grass and brush can regrow. We want to pump more life into our soil, which is the foundation of all life on earth.

8:57  It is a benefit to have multiple animals on the farm and it would be more regenerative to have multiple animals and it is not in keeping with our climate for the meat case in California to look like the meat case in New York state or Florida.  All these meat cases have a lot of beef, a lot of chicken, a medium amount of pork, and no lamb or goat. In California, we have a Mediterranean climate, which means cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers. One of the reasons for some of the fires in California are that we don’t have goats and sheep that graze down the chaparral zone, so it becomes a bigger fire hazard.  Some are now bringing in goats to graze down brush and the blackberry bushes in the creeks.  People have not had good goat and lamb to eat and that’s the only reason why they don’t eat it because it’s delicious.

12:55  The way they raise chickens on Big Bluff Ranch is different from commercially raised chickens, where the chickens live in barns in controlled environments and never see the light of day. These regenerative chickens are out on the pasture from day one and they have no walls. They have complete access to the outside and they can go in and out as they please.  They are fed certified organic, locally grown, no corn, no soy ration.  The chicken manure helps to fertilize the grass. Such animals don’t need antibiotics because they are not crowded together and they are not stressed out.

18:56  Other chicken farmers also use antibiotics because they make the chickens grow faster.  The birds at Big Bluff grown slower but they are healthier.  Conventional chicken farmers often have birds that are called flippers because they grow so fast that their muscles grow faster than their organs and their heart can’t pump enough blood around and they die of a heart attack and flip onto their backs.  In Big Bluff they have no flipper deaths.

21:35  Some chickens are referred to as free range and this means that they live in a conventional, huge, crowded barn but they have pop out doors leading to a small patio area.  But chickens are very much creatures of habit, so once their habits are set and then you open those doors, they just don’t really go outside. However, pasture raised chickens are living on grass moving outside and inside as they wish from the beginning of their lives.



Tyler Dawley is an organic chicken farmer who also cares deeply about regenerative agriculture, animal welfare and sustainability. He lives at and runs Big Bluff Ranch, specializing in organic, pasture raised chicken.  The website is BigBluffRanch.com.  The phone is (530) 529-2291 and you can order the chicken directly from the ranch.

Dr. Ben Weitz is available for Functional Nutrition consultations specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also specializing in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure and also weight loss and also athletic performance, as well as sports chiropractic work by calling his Santa Monica office 310-395-3111. Dr. Weitz is also available for video or phone consultations.



Podcast Transcript

Dr. Weitz:            Hey, this is Dr. Ben Weitz host of the Rational Wellness Podcast. I talk to the leading health and nutrition experts and researchers in the field to bring you the latest in cutting edge health information. Subscribe to the Rational Wellness Podcast for weekly updates. And to learn more, check out my website, drweitz.com. Thanks for joining me, and let’s jump into the podcast. Hello, Rational Wellness podcasters. Today, we have an interview with Tyler Dolly on sustainable regenerative agriculture and farming practices and how to raise healthy chickens. Most of us have seen some of these horrible vegan documentaries that show factory farm chickens being raised in horrible conditions in cramped cages, all crowded together, given antibiotics, given feed with arsenic and other chemicals, and then eventually slaughtered in some horrific manner. It’s also claimed in a lot of these documentaries that the poultry industry has a negative impact on the environment. But we’ll be speaking with Tyler Dolly who is not only an organic chicken farmer, but he also cares deeply about regenerative agriculture, animal welfare and sustainability. Tyler, thank you so much for joining us.

Tyler:                   Thank you. I appreciate the intro. I feel pretty special and smart now.

Dr. Weitz:            So, how do you become interested in sustainable agriculture and farming practices?

Tyler:                   I won the genetic lottery, what it came down to… This is the family ranch, I was born and raised out here.

Dr. Weitz:            Okay.

Tyler:                   And in the early ’80s when I was still very short, my dad had to change the course of the ranch that we were not big enough to succeed in the conventional manner. So, he just started exploring stuff and he ran across a guy named Alan Savory, who is a… Depending on what world you live in, he is either a big celebrity or a minor celebrity, but he is a Rhodesian philosopher, wildlife biologist, who figured out… He’s a cool guy. Look him up, he has a TED Talk, had multiple millions of views, and his essential thesis is that animals should be moved just like the will to beast in the Serengeti would move. They would be chased by wolf or lions or whatever. And so, my dad started doing this, but we don’t have wolf. Well, we do have wolves now, but we used electric fences.  That’s how we control our animal’s grazing. So, we move our cattle at the time around on different pastures and be very aware of the regrowth of the plants and long fun story. But then that led us into taking care of our cows, changing the genetics of our cattle, that grass animal, very type animal. And for us, that meant a short, wide cow, which so happens to finish well on grass, which means that we had good genetics for grass-fed beef right around when I graduated college in 2000. So, we started going to farmer’s markets with our grass-fed beef and that led us to some lamb that led us to goat. And eventually threw a long series of unfortunate events, we ended up growing a lot of chicken. And now, we are one of the probably top one, two, three producers of pasture poultry here in California.

Dr. Weitz:            Cool. So, what does sustainable agriculture mean?

Tyler:                   Right. So, this is a new trend and people are, to some degree, defining it individually and they’re coming up with their own answers for it. So, I’ll share you with you my answers, but just understand that there’s no set definition. So, what I say is regenerative or sustainable, womeone else might say, “Oh, that’s complete BS. He’s wrong.”  But ultimately, producers who are in this space of regenerative or sustainable, what they’re really paying attention to is the entire chain of our ecosystem, that you can’t just pull out one aspect of it and only care about that.  So, if I were a row cropper, I can’t just grow corn, pour fertilizer on it and expect a good harvest.  No.  If I’m a sustainable rancher, I’m thinking about my mycorrhizal fungi, which are all the little fun things that grow in the soil. I’m worried about how much leaf cover I have, how much solar energy am I capturing?   And then if I’m an animal guy, I’m starting to worry… Not worry. I’m starting to think about, “Well, how am I going to use these animals to graze these plants?” Plants were evolved to be grazed by animals.  Animals were evolved to graze plants, but Mother Nature has her own process for doing this, and it’s a great process, but it’s a very hands-off process.  And when we get in there with our conventional thinking, we muck it all up and we have degradation of our range lands. So, regeneration or sustainability is really to understand Mother Nature’s process, which is what I talked about, the Serengeti and the wildebeest being chased around by lions that we want to take that sort of passive management that Mother Nature would use and then add our active management to it.

So, we don’t want to rely on just wolves chasing away or coyotes or whatever.   We have to actively move the cows and we’re moving them for a very specific reason. We’re paying attention to the grass and how it’s re-growing. The time of year, we’re looking at our rain forecast and we’re playing with all these factors that Mother Nature can passively do, and she does it really well. But because it’s passive, it’s slow. So, when we’re doing it actively, we’re getting in there and we’re being, “Okay. This grass, this pasture is recovered pretty well. Time to put cows in. Okay, we’re done with our growing season. How much grass do we have until our next rainfall? Oh, we have too many cows,” or, “We have not enough cows. Let’s change our animal herd size to fit what we actually grew.”  And so, my definition of regeneration is to pump as much life into our soil, the very foundation of all life on earth. If you ignore the oceans, of course.  All life on earth, and then draw forth what life you can and then just keep it growing and getting bigger and more synergistic that the fertility that used to exist in our landscape before European management processes came in is just it’s hard to imagine how fertile our landscape used to be.  And we can get back to it in decades, not thousands of years.  And we just need more and more people to be thinking about how to put life back into the soil.

Dr. Weitz:            And is that because-

Tyler:                   It’s not like-

Dr. Weitz:            … is that because when we farm, we grow the same crops over and over again until all the minerals and other nutrients are sucked out at that soil?

Tyler:                     Yeah, yeah. I mean, to some degree, think of your soil as a bank of fertility of life, and that in over thousands of years that Mother Nature’s put a lot of fertility in there and it grows with a compounding interest. So, if you come with your plow and you plow up 5,000, 10,000 years of fertility, you’re going to have an amazing crop of corn and you’ll probably have a pretty good crop of corn the next year and the next year. But what you’re doing is you’re basically drawing money out of your stock portfolio. You’re losing all of your compound interest and eventually you got nothing left. So, to some degree, it’s a tortured metaphor right now, but to some degree it’s the, the fertility in your soil is a stock market. You want to be living on the interest of your principle, not living off the principle itself. So, in our case, the principle that a farmer is trying to put into his landscape is vitality. And you do that through green leaves and all sorts of stuff like that.

Dr. Weitz:            Right. And, I guess, it could even be a benefit to have multiple animals on the farm at one time.

Tyler:                   Oh yeah.

Dr. Weitz:            I remember reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma and Michael Pollan talks about how one animal would do one thing and another animal would do another thing and-

Tyler:                   Oh, it’s a hundred percent true. So, one of the things that I am leaning into here on the ranch is, I don’t have a great term for it yet, but like a California meat case that when you go into your grocery store, you look at the meat case and it’s going to look exactly like the meat case in New York state or Florida, you’re going to have a lot of beef, a lot of chicken, a medium amount of pork, and no lamb or goat, and it’s the same everywhere. But then you step out of this mythical grocery store and you’re like, “Wait a second, it snows in New York City. In our part of California, it doesn’t snow.” I mean, just right there alone, why are we eating the exact same meat? So, getting back to Mother Nature and different species that here in our particular part of California, we’re in a Mediterranean climate, which means we have cool wet winters and hot dry summers.

Dr. Weitz:            Where are you guys located?

Tyler:                   We’re in Red Bluff. So, we’re in the Sacramento Valley, a couple hours north of Sacramento. Four hours-ish north of the Bay Area. And so, we have hot dry summers and there’s a lot of really fascinating stuff about it that I won’t bore you with, but if you want to know, just ask me because I will tell you. But what it comes down to is that we have hills and we have brush out on our ranch. Hills and brush are not what cows want to eat, but they’re exactly what goats and sheep want to eat. So, this is where it gets really exciting. You know what? California, we’ve been burning five of the biggest fires ever been in the last five year. Well, what are they burning? They’re burning brush. It’s brush.  Short shrubby stuff that’s burning. Well, ecosystem has been growing because through management we have removed fire. I mean, that’s a whole separate story, fire controlled burns. But also we’ve removed animals from that environment. There are no elk out there anymore grazing this stuff down. There’s not big huge herds of deer grazing this sort of forage down anymore. So, it just grows up. And the bigger and older it gets, the more flammable it comes and then, poof, it burns. So, what we’re doing, so in California, because we’re a Mediterranean climate that grows really good goat and sheep, we should be eating goat and sheep because those goat and sheep are going to graze down our chaparral zone. That’s a huge higher fire hazard. Even you’re seeing this now, there’s brushing crews, you see them all the time. It’s really fun.

                                People are bringing in 500 groats goats to graze down the fuel load around their housing community or blackberries in the creeks. I mean, there’s a booming industry. And so, all I’m saying is what we’re trying to do is take that idea of grazing with multiple species, because different species eat different things. There’s a specific set of species that we should have here on Big Bluff Ranch. So, with the right species, we’re taking care of our landscape, we’re making it better, we’re soaking in more rainfall. And then we’re also creating really delicious, nutritious, wholesome food at the end of the day that takes care of us so we can take care of them. And people just haven’t had good goat and lamb, that’s the only reason they don’t eat it because it’s delicious.

Dr. Weitz:            Oh, okay. So, tell us how the way you raise your chickens is different from the commercially raised chickens. And I’m sure most people have seen these videos where the chickens are crowded into these little tiny cages in horrible conditions.

Tyler:                     Right. Right. So, I’ve definitely talked a lot about ruminants, and grazing, and haven’t really talked about our chickens at all, but that’s what we specialize in right now. So, you’re exactly right that the conventional chickens live in barns. There’s a very extremely controlled environment and those birds really never see the light of day. Their airflow is regulated, their feet is regulated, their water is regulated, the square footage that they live in gets regulated, and it’s really designed to create cheap food, and it does a really good job at that. But there’s a lot more out there that should be done than just having sheep chicken. So, I’ve talked a lot about taking care of the soil and taking care of the animals. And one aspect of taking care of animals is to allow those animals to be their natural selves. So, for instance, we don’t feed our cows any sort of grain cows aren’t really meant to eat grain.  It actually messes up their gut. Chickens are not meant to be inside. It messes up all of their hormone system. They need the sun, they need vitamin D, they need to see the sun go down, they just need to see the sun come up, they need to eat grass, they need to eat bugs. So, that’s what we do.

So, our chickens are out on pasture from day one. So, they have no wall… Well, they have walls, but they have complete access to outside. They can run outside if they want to, they run inside if they want to. We feed them certified organic, locally grown, no corn, no soy ration, because that is a ration that California can grow well. And then they’re fertilizing the soil, the soil’s growing grass, the cow, chickens are eating it.  And then we harvest them from that spot, move them on to the next spot. And a new set of birds are on a new set of pasture. All that fertility that we left behind with the chicken manure, we let the plants and the soil microbes absorb it and lock it in and just keep that. It’s so fun when you get into it because if you really just start, it just… One thing gets better here, that means that thing gets better. If this is getting better than that’s getting better. It’s this huge ball of synergism. It’s fun. It’s really fun when it works.

Dr. Weitz:            So, chickens can pretty much be raised on grass?

Tyler:                   Well-

Dr. Weitz:            Is that what they eat or they [inaudible 00:15:43]?

Tyler:                   … they get a lot of nutrition from grass.

Dr. Weitz:            Okay.

Tyler:                   But chickens are not vegetarians. So, when you see vegetarian fed labels in the grocery store, that’s really not a diet. A chicken is meant to eat. They are omnivores and they are very happy to eat meat and high protein and you don’t really get that out of your pasture. It’s a salad. So, they need the protein portion of their big ass salads.

Dr. Weitz:            Which is wet bugs and-

Tyler:                   Bugs and stuff and like that. But, ultimately, we end up supplementing them with a no corn, no soy ration, just to make sure that they never hit any deficiencies from what our pasture would provide them. So, I can’t really give percentages, but they’re definitely out there on the pasture and they’re definitely eating some supplementation and it works out just fine. They’re very happy, very healthy birds.

Dr. Weitz:            Right. And then how do you avoid giving antibiotics and some of the other chemicals that are given commercially raised chickens?

Tyler:                   Right. Well, see, this is another part of that synergism that I got outside and then [inaudible 00:16:53].

Dr. Weitz:            Yeah. And/or any antibiotics given partially because they make them fatter?

Tyler:                   They’re phasing that out pretty aggressively now in the conventional industry, but until probably the last five to 10 years, that’s what they would do. Sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics to grow the chickens faster, which is where people… You’re starting to hear about superbugs that there are some salmon-

Dr. Weitz:            Antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Tyler:                   Yep. Yep. And then a lot of people are pointing out the problems with this sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics for animal production. So, the thing is that they need those antibiotics because they are stressed out, a stressed animal, not living… Imagine yourself. If you are stressed, you’re inside too much or whatever, you can tell when you’re worn out, you tend to get sick, right? You’ve depressed your immune system because you’re not taking care of yourself. Well, just imagine yourself stuck in a football stadium with all those other people, but that’s what you do for your entire life, you’re going to have pretty high stress levels. You’re probably going to need some antibiotics to keep yourself going.  So, to take that metaphor, get out of that football stadium, and once you have space around, you have the sun, you have fresh air, you can engage with your friends on at the right level.  You’re back to a normal, happy, healthy thirst person and you’re not going to get sick. That’s the same thing with what we do with our chickens is that we provide the environment that they’re not going to get sicken. They get shade when they want it. They get shelter when they want it. They get the grass, they get the sun, they get all their friends. They have no pressure from predators because we have guard dogs out there with them. And if you’re a happy, well taken care of person, you don’t get sick. It’s the same thing for chickens. You give them the right environment and they’re good to go. You don’t need the antibiotics. It’s only when you stress them that you have to go to the pharmacy to make your living.

Dr. Weitz:            Right. And how do you get around the fact that they use the antibiotics to make them grow faster? You just take longer for the chicken to mature?

Tyler:                   Yeah, exactly. And then so, that is, yes. Our birds grow a little bit, grow out a little bit longer than conventional birds, which is really a good thing because not only does that mean we can avoid antibiotics and any other stuff like that. We raise a breed called Cornish Cross, which is the same genetics you’re going to buy from the grocery store and it’s really, actually, an amazing breeding. There’s no genetic modification, it’s just really strict controlled breeding for decades. And they’ve gotten these birds to grow so fast that it’s actually, they’ve been bred where their muscles can grow faster than their organs in an ideal situation.  So, the industry has a term they’re called flippers that basically the heart can’t pump enough blood around and they die of a heart attack and they flip right on their back. And what we do, we raise the exact same genetics, but we don’t have any flipper deaths, just doesn’t happen. And that’s because our birds grow a little bit slower. So, the organs develop in relation to the muscle and so, they’re just healthy, happy birds. So, some people have some issues with the Cornish cross and it’s not unguided, but that you give them the right environment and they don’t have issues. So, that’s-

Dr. Weitz:            Now, aren’t there commercially grown chickens where they say they’re grass fed, but really all that means is they let them out of the cages for a short period of time and they go back in,

Tyler:                   Right. Yep. Yep. So, the term for that, at least in the chicken world would be free range, free range chicken, free range eggs. And that is a-

Dr. Weitz:            Okay. So, if we see that term free range chicken, free range eggs, what does that mean?

Tyler:                   I’m just going to… Hey, George, I’m on the phone. I’ll be right back. Okay? Sorry about that. The kids just got back from school. Yeah. You ready?

Dr. Weitz:            Yeah, yeah. That’s fine.

Tyler:                   Okay. So, free range is a legally defined term. It’s like organic. There are a set of guidelines that you have to meet to qualify for free range. And depending on if you’re looking at meat birds or layers, they’re a little bit different. But, ultimately, it comes down to outdoor access is the term. And so, what that means is you have just the same exact conventional barn, it’s like a football field sized barn. But instead of being completely enclosed, like most conventional barns, they will have these little pop-out doors leading out to a little tiny patio area. And different free range certifiers have different requirements for the outdoor square footage, but it’s not very much. And the other thing is that chickens are creatures of habits. They do the same thing over and over and over again. You ever heard the saying, “Your chickens always come home to roost”?

Dr. Weitz:            Right.

Tyler:                   That’s a real thing. Chickens sleep in the exact same spot. They are creatures of habit. So, by the time they get around to opening those doors and those free range barns, their habits are set and they just don’t really go outside. So, it sounds good. So, if you talk to someone like me, I get this all the time like, “Oh, you’re a pasture-raised person or pasture-raised poultry.” You must be free range then. I’m like, “Well, yes, but we are so much more than free range because the image in people’s mind is free range, red barn farmer and overalls, green grass, a few chickens here and there.” That’s what free range conveys in the term, but the actual practices are very, very far from that. If you want that image, you need to be looking for a pasture raised chicken. That’s the only type of chicken that’s going to be out there on grass. The majority of its life.

Dr. Weitz:            So, if it says pasture raised, that means it’s got to be free to roam around, it’s pretty much its entire life till the end?

Tyler:                   Pretty much, yeah. There are different… Yes. The answer is, yes. If you see someone saying free or pasture raised, you’re going to be very happy with that chicken. There are some different styles of how you do pasture raised chicken, but I don’t want to split hairs. Go, go. If you see pasture raised that gets the stamp of approval.

Dr. Weitz:            And we’ve heard reports about chickens being feed with arsenic in it. And what was that about? Is that still being done?

Tyler:                   Well, I don’t know the exact arsenic story, at least I can’t recall it off the top of my head.

Dr. Weitz:            I’m trying to remember. It was some sort of arsenic related chemical that had to do with… I think it, once again, it was to somehow they would grow faster or something.

Tyler:                   Yeah. I Think it’s a growth promotion, that rings a bell. So, I don’t know that specifically, but I don’t think it’s been outlawed. So, there’s no reason that a conventional guy couldn’t be doing that. But I would just say that anyone who is taking care of animals, they are trying to do the best job they can. No, I don’t. I’m not pointing fingers at conventional farmers at all. They’re just doing the best they can with the systems and knowledge that they have. And that one of the things I like to tell people is that you get to vote for the future. Three times a day, you’re voting with your food dollars.  I know I’m stealing that quote from someone else, so I’m not that smart. But if you don’t like how those chickens are raised or how those farmers are treated, just buy some different style chicken. Buy an organic chicken. Is it as good as pasture raised? No, but it’s a lot better than a conventional chicken. And you will eventually, through your dollars and your food choices, create the food system that you want. That these big companies are not evil, they’re just profit driven. So, signal to them with your dollars that, “Hey, this is where I want to spend my money.” And they’ll turn as fast as they possibly can. And there’s actually-

Dr. Weitz:            Yeah. I-

Tyler:                   There’s a lot of examples of that happening.

Dr. Weitz:            Okay. I eat purely organic pretty much 90% of the time, but then I read these reports about how these big companies have gotten into organic and then they get the rules changed so they can add this and add that, and it still qualify as organic.  So, my conclusion is organic is better than not organic, but it’d be even better if they weren’t allowed to get in and say, “Well, we can add this chemical and because that chemical originally comes from seaweed, then it’s okay, and this is okay.”

Tyler:                   Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, that always happens when you have a third party auditor, third party certifier, that all of a sudden you have standards and guidelines and then all of a sudden that means that there becomes loopholes. It’s a nature of the beast. And I totally agree with you that organic is better than not organic, but is organic as good as organic should be? No. No. But it’s directionally right. More and more people are buying organic, now you’re starting to see that higher level of organic. There are actually regeneratively certified organic products out there. It’s a standard we’re looking into, which again, is that as good as what we do? Are we getting all the credit for what we do? Not necessarily, but again, it’s another higher level and we can just keep moving the food system forward by voting with our dollars, taking the best step you possibly can.

                                I think that’s just really important. I mean, for us personally, when you buy a chicken from us, you’re keeping us in business and all the things that we’re doing for our landscape, it’s a very one-to-one exchange like, “Oh, you bought a chicken. Yay. I can go buy food now or whatever.” So, your dollars matter. I realize when you go to the grocery store, you’re like, “Eh, so what?” But actually it’s a very powerful thing. And if you buy straight from a farmer, like from us or from another farmer, local farmer, it’s dramatic. You’re like, “Wow, you are literally keeping people in business.” So, just to give you that sense of empowerment like, “You are really, really important. We love you.”

Dr. Weitz:            Right. Cool. So, what about the way your chickens are slaughtered, and what are the conditions, and then how are the chickens treated after they’re killed? We’ve heard reports about chickens being bleached, and put in all kinds of chemicals, and the processes that are used to end their lives are torturous and horrific.

Tyler:                   Right. Right. It’s definitely a conventional chicken houses process, something like 5,000 birds an hour. It’s insane how fast they do. And when you’re going that fast and that corners have to be cut. You just can’t do everything right. When they’re literally going so fast you can’t count them, it looks like a [inaudible 00:29:11]. It’s really, really fast. So, we don’t go to a processing plant like that. We go to a small processing plant not too far away from us. All of the slaughtering is done by hand, which means that mistakes don’t happen because it’s done by hand. Every single bird is hand slaughtered.

Dr. Weitz:            And are the birds slaughtered pretty quickly after they go there?

Tyler:                   Oh. Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Weitz:            Okay.

Tyler:                   Yeah. So, for us, in particular, we catch our birds after the sun goes down, so chickens fall asleep hard, man. If it’s waking up a teenager, it doesn’t happen like, “Ugh.” And then we get them there before dawn. And then, so basically, they go to sleep and then they never wake up. So, for us, we have a really great way of getting this done. And our processing plant, they hold them in a right room with blue lights so they don’t wake up and they go into the kill room, which has red lights, so they don’t see all of the blood if they might even look around. And then they go and get plucked and gutted and it’s all done by hand, which is much cleaner and safer than these big automatic machines. It means, our processing costs are a lot higher, but it’s a lot better of a product.

                                And the real thing that we are super fortunate to have is that you are talking about the chlorine bath. So, in many, many, many chicken or processing operations, the way they chill the birds down, because you need to take that normal body temperature and get it down to a food safe 40 degrees pretty rapidly, I think you have four hours to do it. The most cost efficient way of doing that is to put it in water. You have a really good thermodynamic exchange, it draws down the temperature really quickly. Well, but as soon as you start doing that, you’re putting 5,000 birds an hour into the same puddle of water. If one bird is sick, all the other birds are going to have that salmonella or whatever. So, the way they get away or to stop that to mitigate that risk is they chlorinate the heck out of that water.  So, one of the things that happens as well, they’re in this heavily chlorinated water to keep them from cross contaminating each other. As the meat cools down, it actually absorbs in this chlorinated water. So, if you look on some chicken packages, you will see a little asterisk that’s talks about added water, that’s the added water that they’re talking about-

Dr. Weitz:            I see.

Tyler:                   … the chlorinated cooling water.

Dr. Weitz:            I see.

Tyler:                   So, we don’t do that. Our processor doesn’t do that. They do something called air chilling, which is much better. So, basically, it’s hang a chicken and it goes into a big old freezer and comes down to tap. So, never touches anyone else, it never touches water. So, to some degree it’s like dry aging of beef that you’re actually pulling moisture out. Water is wonderful, but it doesn’t have any flavor. So, you take the water out and you concentrate the flavor of the bird itself. Plus you’re not cost contamination, you’re not extra weight of water. And it’s an amazingly delicious way of processing your chicken. And then they come out of the chill chamber, hand packaged flash frozen, and then off to someone to eat it.

Dr. Weitz:            Cool. Do you have some reports from people telling you how much healthier they have, they feel, or even reports of health conditions improving from eating your quality chickens?

Tyler:                     Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s one of the best things about being a direct to consumer type operation, that if you ordered chicken from us, you’ll probably talk to me either on the phone or on email and I’ll be shipping it to you. I’m not like some corporate mucky muck and I have flunkies below me. I’d like to have flunkies, but I don’t, it’s me. You’ll be buying from me. And so, we’ll talk and it’ll be a lot of fun. And I get feedback all the time. My current favorite compliment is, “Tastes like grandma’s chicken.” Because chicken right now the joke is, “It tastes like chicken.” Means it tastes like nothing, it’s bland.

                                Well, the reality is the reason chicken tastes bland now is because it’s fed corn, it’s fed soy, man, and it’s literally watered down. Of course, it’s going to be bland. And they have no exercise. Our birds are outside in the sun, they’re hormones are working. They’re getting some exercise and then they’re treated really well through the processing process. And so, I mean, we raise grandma’s chicken. So, if you want to impress anyone with like, “Hey, this is how my grandma used to cut chicken. Her recipe is really good, don’t get me wrong.” But the real star ingredient was the fact that she had it in her backyard. So, if you want that style chicken, you look for us or look for someone else doing pasture race chicken.

Dr. Weitz:            Right. Cool. So, I think that’s the questions that I have. Anything else you want to tell us about?

Tyler:                   Oh. Well, I mean, we only have what? Another two hours now. I’m just joking.

Dr. Weitz:            No.

Tyler:                   No. We’ve covered a lot of stuff. I really appreciate the time. I mean, if anyone-

Dr. Weitz:            No. I mean, we’re fine with time if there’s anything else you wanted to tell us about what you’re doing.

Tyler:                   No, no.

Dr. Weitz:            Okay. Okay, good.

Tyler:                   I think that feels pretty good. I mean, if you have any more questions, I’ve got time. I don’t need to cut off, but we can start wrapping it up if you’d like.

Dr. Weitz:            Yeah. That sounds good. I don’t really have any other questions prepared. So, how can people listening or watching this podcast find out about ordering some chickens from you?

Tyler:                   Right. It’s pretty simple, bigbluffranch.com. There’ll be a big old shop now button and order some chicken. Shoot me an email if you want to ask any questions or want some more information.

Dr. Weitz:            And so, does the chicken come frozen?

Tyler:                   Oh. Yep, frozen. It’s frozen. So, it’ll be shipped frozen, it’ll be on in… Well, right now it’ll be in an insulated cooler. We hope to get a better packaging, but right now it’s a styrofoam cooler dry ice or gel ice, and we’ll ship it FedEx, and it just shows up right at your door. We’ll have tracking numbers on it so you can make sure that it is where it’s supposed to be. And, no, it works out great, especially in the winter shipping is no problem.



Dr. Weitz:            Right. Okay, cool. Big Bluff Ranch. Tyler Dawley, thank you for your time and look forward to talking to you again in the future. And thank you for making it all the way through this episode of the Rational Wellness Podcast. And for those of you who enjoy listening to the Rational Wellness Podcast, I would certainly appreciate it if you could go to Apple Podcast or Spotify and give us a five-star ratings and review. That way more people will be able to discover the Rational Wellness Podcast. And I wanted to say thank you to all the patients that we’ve been working with at our Weitz Sports Chiropractic Nutrition Clinic, most of whom we’ve been able to help with a range of various health conditions from various types of gut disorders to thyroid and hormonal issues, autoimmune diseases, and various other cardiometabolic conditions.  And so, I very much appreciate you and I’m excited about going forwards, helping you to improve your health on your journey towards optimal health. And I wanted to let everybody know that I do have a few openings now for new clients, and you can take advantage of that by calling my Weitz Sports Chiropractic and Nutrition Santa Monica office at 310-395-3111. And we can set you up for a new consultation for functional medicine nutrition and we can get that going as early as the new year. So, give us a call and I’ll talk to you next week.



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