Frequently Asked Questions
What are the live handling requirements for the farmers who raise Gerber Poultry chickens?
Gerber Poultry’s requirements for our growers are built around the Five Freedoms, developed in the animal agriculture industry to deliver the best care to live animals. The Five freedoms are:
Freedom from hunger and thirst
Freedom from discomfort
Freedom from pain, injury or disease
Freedom to express normal behavior
Freedom from fear and distress
Specifically to raising our chickens we translate these freedoms in the following requirements (Note: this is only a summary of our grower manual and humane standards):
- Growers must be trained in humane handling annually.
- Grower’s chicken houses must be continually maintained to meet humane standards.
- Beyond being audited annually by a third party humane certifier the entire grower base is audited throughout the year by a Gerber auditor. Growers must pass all audits.
- The chicken house and immediate surroundings must be kept in good repair. Walls, doors, windows and screens must be maintained to prevent the entry of birds, rodents or other animals.
- In preparation to receiving chicks the house must have been cleaned from the previous flock, new litter applied, the brooding area prepared and the temperature correct for new chicks.
- Clean drinking water and feed must be available to all chickens at all times.
- The litter must be in loose, dry condition allowing the chickens to express natural pecking, scratching and dustbathing behaviors.
- At the specified age environmental enrichments must be placed throughout the chicken house to allow chickens to climb and roost, expressing natural behaviors.
- Temperatures must be maintained appropriate to the age of the chickens following Gerbers posted temperature guidelines.
- Clean air quality must be maintained at all times.
- The grower must walk the house at least twice a day to observe the chickens & take note of their wellbeing.
- A natural daylight/night time lighting cycle must be observed appropriate to the chicken’s age.
- All biosecurity processes and steps must be observed at all times. Visitors are never allowed at the grower’s chicken house unless previously approved by Gerber.
- Only the feed developed, manufactured, tested & delivered by Gerber’s feed manufacturer is to be used for Gerber chickens.
- The Gerber Farm Tech must approve any variations to Gerber Farm Manual or Gerber Humane Standards requirements.
The above list is a synopsis of the Gerber Grower Manual and Gerber humane standards. For additional questions contact Gerber Poultry at www.gerbers.com
Is your feed exposed to pesticides and herbicides?
Our feed contains no pesticide or herbicide residue even though the feed is conventionally grown. Our feed manufacturer regularly collects feed samples at the mill and sends them to a certified feed lab for residue testing. We receive copies of those reports. Our Farm techs collect feed samples from our growers for verification tests and our QC department sends the samples to a certified genetics lab. We also have the lab test for glyphosates, the active ingredient in the herbicide RoundUp®. Our records go back to March 2009. We have never had a positive test result for pesticide or herbicide presence. Our feed and our chicken products are 100% pesticide and herbicide free.
Do Gerber’s Amish Farm Chicken™ products contain GMOs?
Do you give Gerber's Amish Farm Chickens antibiotics?
No antibiotics are ever injected into our eggs, administered to our chicks or added to the feed or water consumed by Gerber chickens. Our Gerber Farm Division and our growers safeguard the health of our chickens by assuring that they have plenty of nutritious feed, water, comfortable housing and abundant care.
What do you feed your 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 natural way. You'll NEVER find meat or bone meal, fishmeal, bakery by-products, medicinal growth stimulants, antibiotics, hormones, or additives containing arsenic or arsenic compounds in the feed or water that we give our chickens.
Do you use growth hormones?
Is your chicken gluten free?
Does your feed contain GMO's?
We assume our feed to be genetically modified. Due to expense of verification procedures we do not test our feed and make this assumption since our feed manufacturer buys our corn and soy on the commodity market. The corn and soybeans are used to make our specialized, antibiotic free vegetable based, all natural feed. Our feed contains no artificial ingredients and no animal by-products. When our custom made feed is eaten by the chickens all traces of any modified DNA that may have been present in the corn and soy are destroyed by the chicken’s digestive system. The resulting meat is 100% GMO-free. Our chicken products are tested and verified to be GMO-free by a certified genetics lab. For more information see the question Do Gerber’s Amish Farm Chicken™ products contain GMOs? also on this page.
What is the difference between Gerber's Amish Farm Chicken and organic chicken?
- Organic claims for any product, animal feed or human food, are not required to be verified with field testing; organic claims are only required to have the correct paperwork on hand. Nothing is required to be proven true unless an auditor suspects that something is not quite right; then a verification test may be required.
- Gerber claims must be supported with field testing, laboratory tests or other scientifically valid test results. Every claim must be proven true to the USDA.
If we make the assumption that the organic source you are considering can be trusted, and the source has test results to support its claims:
- Organic chicken is fed grain certified to have been grown without synthetic pesticides or herbicides. Organic chicken is, therefore, synthetic chemical free
- The feed Gerber uses for its chickens is tested for chemicals by an independent laboratory; Gerber chickens are tested by the USDA for chemical residue; both feed and chicken are synthetic chemical free
- Organic chickens are generally raised in smaller quantities than those raised by large commercial chicken producers
- Gerber Amish Farm chickens are raised on individual family owned Amish farms
- Organic chicken eggs may be given antibiotic injections before hatching
- Gerber Amish Farm chicken eggs, chicks and grown chickens are never given antibiotics
- Generally, organic chicken costs between $8 and $20 dollars per pound
- Generally, Gerber Amish Farm chicken costs between $1.75 and $6.00 per pound
- Organic chicken has been raised in compliance with an expensive certification program (which varies from state to state); paperwork for organic certification is extremely expensive to maintain; this is one reason why organic products are more expensive (even though testing and proof is not required)
- Gerber Amish Farm Chicken is not raised in compliance with an organic certification program; rather than spending money on maintaining expensive organic certification Gerber focuses on supplying our chickens with safe, healthy feed and on supporting good farm management that stresses the welfare of the chicken, verified by third party humane certification. Everything Gerber claims is supported by test results and other evidence. This allows Gerber to sell its chicken at a reasonable, though premium price.
- Gerber chicken products are certified by third party lab tests to be gmo-free. Our chicken is also antibiotic free, animal by-product free, synthetic chemical free, all natural & absolutely as safe as any organic brand; all Gerber claims are supported by field testing
- Plus, it tastes remarkably good
What does the term "natural" mean?
According to the USDA, a product can be labeled as "natural" if it is free of artificial flavoring, coloring, chemical preservatives or other synthetic ingredients. It must also be "minimally processed". Also see on this page the question How is your chicken different from conventional chicken that is also "Natural"?
How is your chicken different from conventional chicken that is also "Natural"?
What chilling process do you use?
Why are chicken bones dark in color?
Where are you located?
We are located in Kidron, Ohio, the heart of Ohio's Amish Country, and the largest Old Order Amish population in the world.
Do your chickens get much fresh air?
With about 200 chicken houses we have approximately 150 families that raise chickens for us; some have enough land for two houses, and a few have three. Recently a grower with five houses on each of four different farm parcels began raising chickens for us. Of our growers about 170 are Amish or Mennonite conservative families. Most of our growers maintain old style growing houses with no consistent electricity or modern heating or cooling. There is a type of coziness in thinking about this type of farm. The screened window openings, which run the length of each side of the average 400 foot long house, are covered with weatherproof curtains that are raised or lowered as the weather permits. There is an abundance of natural light, supplemented by electric light when necessary, and fresh air. In hot, humid weather curtains can be closed and large “tunnel” fans are used to draw fresh air into the building and exhaust stale air. The chickens are comfortable and happy.
However, there is also an abundance of frigid winter weather and hot and humid summer weather. Such houses are not particularly suited to consistently manage the chicken house environment. If not managed rigidly, the consequences of old style chicken housing can be wet floors, cold spots, houses too hot or too cold, high ammonia, poor circulation and poor air quality. Each of which can have a deleterious effect on the chickens. Everything about this type of house must be intentional. Meaning, one must intend to turn on the generator. One must intend to raise or lower the curtains. One must intend to monitor the temperature and intend to make the necessary changes in the curtains, fans or heaters multiple times throughout the day, if necessary, in order to keep the chickens comfortable. Of the 200 chicken houses our farmers & growers manage, about 125 are the old style house.
The modern chicken houses do not have screened windows or curtains. There are electric lights as well as light that enters through fiberglass panels, louvers, fan openings and doors. Fresh air enters through louvered openings controlled by electric fans. These houses do not have the same “cozy” feeling of the old style houses. However, management of the environment in these houses is much more consistent and conducive to the well being of the chickens. The extremes of environment caused by seasonal weather changes are mitigated by the modern house operating functions. Like the old style houses, the chickens are comfortable and happy. Whether our chickens grow in old or new houses, our goal is to raise them safely, comfortably and on a healthy diet. All of our growers are regularly visited by our Farm Team and, at least annually, are audited by our in-house auditor, by customer auditors, and a third party humane certification body. Our growers are required to maintain humane certification.
Are the chickens cared for following humane guidelines?
Yes. All Gerber chickens are raised and cared for according to the strict internal guidelines established by Gerber Poultry. Our hatchery, farms, live haul operation and slaughter facility are all audited at least annually by FACTA LLC, a humane certification verification organization. Click here to link to the FACTA website. Our growers are also audited by the humane certification team of a large Gerber customer. Our Farm Team and a member of the company leadership team have all been trained and certified in humane handling. Gerber requires that all of the family farmers, as well as anyone who handles live chickens, receive annual humane handling training. Care is monitored regularly by members of the Gerber Farm team. In addition, Gerber has an auditor on staff that operates independently of the Farm Team and audits every farm at least once a year. See also the Food You Can Trust section under the Education tab on our home page.