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Crystal Lake Farms is a unique family owned company with deep roots in poultry. Lloyd Peterson began his journey into poultry mixing feed and selling baby chickens along with other items for the local co-op in Decatur, Arkansas. Lloyd finished high school in 1928 and sometime later was offered a contract to play professional baseball. With his fondness of baseball in check, he turned down the offer and went on to start his own company, Peterson Produce, in 1939. The journey began.

Lloyd developed his own proprietary feed, Peterson Red Tag, for poultry and started to mate adult chickens. The baby chicks were sold through his store. It was not long before Lloyd took a Darwin like approach to the mating of his birds. Lloyd observed the birds’ habits, tolerance to weather conditions, growth, and feeding and began placing certain males and females together. The offspring proved to be much better suited for its living environment. The process continued from the 1950’s and escalated through the 1990’s producing one of the world’s best known chickens, ‘The Peterson Male’. Alongside the development of the chicken, Lloyd was also raising and processing chickens for sale to retailers and consumers every day.

The mainstream poultry industry continues to develop and sell proprietary breeds that are designed to produce broilers that achieve maximum performance. This yields lower cost to the producer and ultimately the customer. There is an ever-growing abundance of consumers and retailers that do not want this type of chicken. The majority of consumers are concerned about animal welfare, where the chicken came from and what it has eaten. This is not delivered by the mainstream poultry industry.

Crystal Lake Farms has diligently worked over the last eight years going “back to the basics” to develop a breed that is not focused on rapid growth and high yield but is still superior to heritage crosses. The Crystal Lake ‘Free Ranger’ is a slower growing chicken that thrives both inside and outside. It’s also a hearty bird that wants to forage outside in the elements and be itself, naturally. Because the ‘Free Ranger’ is not focused on extreme performance and has a direct lineage to certain heritage breeds, it is generally healthier and has a better tolerance for the changing environment.