Coq Au CoinCoq Au Coin Pasture Raised Chicken is a flexible operation that is able to use minimal land on leased acreage to provide a pastured bird product that is superior in flavor and more nutritious than what is currently available for this region’s meat eating consumer. Raising chickens on pasture allows the birds to forage as they would naturally. The chickens get up to 30 percent of their diet consuming bugs, grass, and other life in the soil. Chickens on pasture give back what they take from the ground in the form of high quality manure. The diversity in a pasture diet creates a healthy chicken that makes a healthy meat packed full of antioxidants and Omega 3 fatty acids for the consumer. In a world where our food increasingly is losing its nutritional value because of a quantity over quality food industry Coq Au Coin is proud to be able to offer a product that is both good for the land and good for the eater.  

Coq Au Coin focuses its production on Cornish Cross Broilers and seasonally raises White Peeking Ducks, and Bronze Breasted Turkeys. There are two ways the chickens and other fowl are housed. One style is built of PVC and fully encloses the chickens to a 7 x 12 area. The other style is built of 2 x 4’s and cattle panels creating hoop house structures enclosed by Premier Fencings Poultry Netting. All birds are rotated to fresh pasture daily and currently use only one acre of horse pasture. After the birds move over the same ground twice coops are moved to new ground. I have found that over a 6 months period about 1,200 birds can rotate on an acre before the ground needs longer recovery time.

Coq Au CoinIn Louisiana year round production of poultry is possible. In fact the climate makes the summer months hardest on the birds and Coq Au Coin slows down ordering chicks in July and August when heat stress can halt weight gains especially in heavily populated pens. Also predation increases in the summer months. Hawks have by far been the worst predator. Predation makes the fully enclosed chicken structure superior to the poultry netting open air style pen where there is vulnerability from above. I find that frequency of pen movement confuses predators and more than once I have been told by local farmers I’m just lucky to be able to raise chickens the way I do.

Coq Au Coin slaughters anywhere from 50 to 100 birds a week and averages about 400 birds on farm at any given time; totaling about 2,500 birds for the year. This is a solo run operation except for slaughter days, where one to two people help out with both the harvest and packaging, all of which is done on the same day.  It’s important to get firsthand experience and see other slaughter operations before starting your own killing facility. Slaughtering is not rocket science and nothing that should hold future producers back. I have come to enjoy the pace and efficiency of the harvest. Start out with low numbers of chickens and remember a good scalder will make the harvest much more enjoyable.

Coq Au CoinThe beauty of this operation is its mobility. Three times I have moved the location of the birds, down highways and back roads, in order to fertilize new ground and give rest to land that was in production. Lightweight affordable pens and limited investment into anything permanently grounded has made Coq Au Coin successful in just over the year it has been producing. I like to think that at any given time I could harvest my chickens and leave only a healthy diverse pasture in my wake. The simplicity of this system coupled with minimal diversity in production has helped Coq Au Coin become sustainable; socially, environmentally and economically. After all if you can’t make money the word sustainable in front of agriculture is in vain.

Coq Au Coin sells mostly at the Cresent City Farmers Market in New Orleans but also has food distributors and restaurants that buy steadily as well. Direct farmer to consumer sales are nice and should be focused on when possible, but a one-man show must rely on a middle-man to distribute as well. By going down on the price per pound and selling to restaurants and distributors you gain by spending less time sitting at farmers markets and paying vendor fees multiple times a week; not to mention driving costs. With a middle-man you gain the ability to move bulk and increase production, all while you get more publicity for your product. This has been my experience at least. I also lease an uncertified organic blueberry patch in which I rotate chickens down the rows fertilizing, eating fallen fruit, and managing the pest population. For more information contact Adam Aucoin at {434} 996 9112.

Submitted by Adam Aucoin