Our Poulet Rouge™ heritage chicken is a "Cou Nu," or naked neck chicken. Ron Joyce personally selected this bird in 2003 from the French Label Rouge Program while visiting France on his quest for the best-tasting chicken in the world. He coined the name "Poulet Rouge™" (a nod to its red-colored feathers) for this bird that Joyce Farms now raises and processes in the United States according to standards similar to the Label Rouge guidelines.
Only certain genetics are allowed. Slow-growing breeds tend to be heartier and more disease resistant for pasture-centered life than commercial breeds.
Smaller poultry houses are required than on industrial or organic farms, and houses per farm are limited to four. This assures the care and attention of being raised by small farmers.
Birds are given outdoor access at six weeks of age (around the same age that commercial and organic birds reach market weight).
Birds are grown a minimum of 75 days (our Poulet Rouge™ chickens grow for 84 days), much longer than commercial birds that grow for only 42 days.
A maximum density requirement ensures that the birds are allowed more room in the houses than birds on industrial or organic farms.
A minimum sanitation period of 21 days between flocks assures houses are free of disease.
To make sure the birds are handled humanely and not dehydrated, they must travel no more than 64 miles to the processing plant.
Birds are processed individually by hand and air chilled, so they are never submerged in chlorinated water.
You may have heard us talk about these raising standards before, but here are three more things you may not know about France’s Label Rouge Program:
The Label Rouge program began in France in the 1960s as a grassroots movement. As the French poultry industry grew and became more factory-oriented after World War II (just like ours), a lot of people in France longed for the taste of traditionally-raised farm chickens. Small poultry farmers developed and began adopting the Label Rouge program to meet that demand. The people responded, and now Label Rouge poultry accounts for over 30% of poultry sales to the public (source), even at twice the price of conventionally raised poultry.
Allowed to grow at a natural pace – Label Rouge chickens take 84 days to reach maturity, twice as long as industrially grown chickens – the birds’ organs, muscles and bones grow in harmony, and fat has time to marble into the meat for more depth of flavor. The birds develop without the leg problems industrial chickens have because of their oversized, over-stimulated breast development. Furthermore, the feed for Label Rouge chickens must be free of any medications, animal by-products, growth stimulants or other additives.
Because Label Rouge chickens are much more common in France, the average French consumer knows the difference in taste between Label Rouge poultry and industrial poultry, so regular taste-testing is required to obtain certification that Label Rouge products meet the established taste program. And it’s not just in France that Label Rouge chickens are considered the best tasting – Label Rouge poultry is popular throughout Europe with both retail consumers and fine-dining chefs.
The Label Rouge program was created because the French wanted better tasting chickens, and more and more Americans are demanding the same thing. Luckily you don’t have to go all the way to France for them, thanks to our Poulet Rouge™ chicken! We brought both the standards and the Old World breed so you can have the world’s best tasting chicken, too.