Salt Creek Farm is a third generation farm in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Sara and Jay Shivers and their two daughters, Stella and Margot, raise Black Angus Beef, heritage breed Bresse and New Hampshire chickens, and honeybees.
Salt Creek Farm makes its roots near the headwaters of its namesake. The lush, native grasses of this area provide perfect grazing for cattle. Producers from all over the country send their cattle to the Flint Hills to graze during the summer months.
The majority of cattle on the farm are Black Angus, with a few Red Angus in the herd. The cattle are home-raised, born in the same pastures in which they raise their calves. Sara and Jay focus on low-stress cattle handling techniques to avoid undue pressure on the animals. Sometimes that means the work takes a little longer, but keeps the cattle happy and healthy. The animals spend their entire lives out in the pastures. During the winter months, supplemental feed is provided in the form of free choice grain and Brome, Fescue, and native hay grown and baled here on the farm. The cattle only receive antibiotics when they are sick are never fed unnecessary antibiotics or given growth hormones.
The flagship chicken at Salt Creek Farm is an old-style New Hampshire that has been selectively bred for size and meat quality. The goal is to provide an alternative to the standard grocery store chicken that is beneficial to our environment and land, supports happy and active chickens, and ultimately creates a flavorful meal. Jay and Sara accomplish this by modeling their own chicken program similar to the Label Rouge program for Bresse chicken in France. The chicks are raised indoors for three to six weeks until they are hardy enough to venture outdoors. They then spend the next eight to 11 weeks on pasture eating grass and bugs and doing what chickens are meant to do. In total, the chickens are on the farm for 14 weeks, rather than the commercial standard of six to eight weeks. During this time, they build muscle hunting and running through the pastures, experience a varied diet from grains to bugs, grass, and seeds found in the pastures, and overall have a longer lifespan, all of which creates a happy and incredibly delicious chicken.
The Salt Creek Farm egg laying flock consists of a mix of breeds also ranging the pastures of the Flint Hills. They move to a new section of grass every week using mobile coops and electric fencing to keep the predators away. The green grass in the warm months creates a wonderful orange egg yolk with excellent quality. In the coldest months, they bed down in a barn to stay out of the cold Kansas winters before heading back out in the spring.
Jay and Sara started their laying and meat chicken program in 2019 with test runs of a unique feed plan that allows the chickens to choose what they need and a rotational grazing plan. THey partnered with a restaurant in Kansas City to start this egg and meat bird program to ensure there was both a market for these products and to provide quality feedback. In 2019 and 2020, they bred and hatched Bresse chickens, known for their high quality meat and their French origins. They also tested out a particular New Hampshire line of meat chickens that they fell in love with. This year the Bresse have retired to the laying flock and the New Hampshire is the new flagship meat chicken.
Like Salt Creek beef, the goal is to sell the best quality chicken possible. Jay and Sara have spent the past couple years working with Bresse, known as the best tasting chicken in the world; after a year of searching for a complementary breed they found this particular line of New Hampshire, which they believe to be as good as, if not better than, the Bresse, and ultimately anything you’ll find in your grocery store.
In 2020, Jay and Sara expanded their hobby beekeeping operation to help fill the demand for local, quality honey. Their honeybees forage for pollen and nectar across the Flint Hills to create delicious honey. From hive to bottle, Salt Creek honey is minimally processed and never pasteurized for maximum flavor and nutritional value; this allows minute amounts of pollen to remain in the honey and add complexity and depth.
Back to the Beginning