Amy and Tony Jagla acquired a historic 10.5-acre farm in 2005, but it wasn’t until 2011 that they expanded their backyard chicken operation into a business. While producing food for their family, the couple realized just how much they enjoyed farming. Now, with the help of two of their three children, Katlin and Tyler (Justin is currently in the army), they raise 300–350 Dark Cornish chickens and 50 Cornish Game Hens for meat each year. They named their new venture Platypus Flats Ranch after the animal which, like their farm, is a little bit of everything, and the flat lands it sits on.
The Jaglas had begun by raising Cornish Cross meat birds—the most commonly raised breed for chicken meat in the U.S.—which has been bred to put on weight so quickly that its body cannot physically cope, and is prone to heart, bone, and joint problems. “We realized that although they grow really fast, the Cornish Cross isn’t as healthy. We heard about Red Ranger and other traditional breeds and when we tried them, the flavor was so much better. We researched and learned about health benefits for the birds and it just made more sense to us,” explains Amy. “While some people don’t see the value of slower-growing traditional breeds, an increasing number of consumers are looking specifically for the meat they produce.”
In addition to the difference between the growth rates of conventional and traditional breeds, Dark Cornish are better adapted to the pasture-based management techniques that are practiced at Platypus Flats Ranch. “Dark Cornish enjoy going out and foraging and tend to go farther out into the pasture better than other traditional breeds. They’re also a little bit feistier and tend to deal with predators more effectively,” says Amy. The Jaglas choose to raise their animals on pasture because it has benefits for human health, meat flavor, the land, and animal welfare. “The pasture-raised method keeps the birds in a more natural system—happier and healthier,” says Amy. “They’re not supposed to be cooped up in a barn.”
Having AWA-certification from their meat birds helps Amy and Tony communicate to their customers how their farm management practices set them apart from the competition. “We decided to be AWA because it would make sense to get a certification to distinguish us from others. As we learned about AWA it made sense to our operation—it was a natural fit. The few things we had to modify and change made a lot of sense for the health of our birds,” says Amy. “It was an easy choice.”
Amy and Tony hope to build their business so that, one day, Tony can make work on the ranch his full time job. One of their dreams is to slaughter and process birds on the farm. “We’re really just going to see where it takes us and stay true to our principles,” says Amy.
Platypus Flats Ranch chicken and Cornish hen meat is available direct from the farm by appointment, as well as at the Shawano Farmer’s Market from June to October. To learn more—or make an appointment for purchase—contact Amy and Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org or (715) 851-0165.