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Meat One of Our Protein Vendors

From fuzzy to frozen: (Clockwise from top left) Chicks at Jolly Farms are housed in indoor brooders for about three weeks before moving to climate-controlled coops; the portable chicken coops are covered with material from an old Chick-fil-A billboard; each coop holds about 150 hens; Kevin Cox shows off a freezer full of chickens, processed and ready for sale.

Ever considerate of our carnivorous customers, Westchase District Farmers Market purposely provides purchasers a plethora of preferred protein products (how many markets can say that?).

The newest protein vendor to join the market is Jolly Farms (jollyfarms.org). Jill Cox and her son Kevin raise about 900 Cornish Cross Broiler chickens on their two-acre family farm in Alvin, Texas. What started as a hobby in 2014 with 12 birds raised for eggs only has hatched into a burgeoning business that supplies chicken to such clients as Hotel ZaZa, Healthy Way Dairy and Erma’s Nutrition Center and Natural Market. “Word of mouth has really spread that we raise healthy and delicious chickens,” Jill said. “People want alternatives to what’s offered in the grocery stores.”

The Cox family receives their chicks when they are about a day old and broods them in a temperature-controlled environment for about four weeks until the chicks are big enough to be pastured. Fed only certified organic feed, they spend another four weeks living free range with access to portable floorless coops that are moved daily. The chickens are processed by hand at a nearby state-certified processing facility. “They are rinsed with only fresh running water, not a bleach bath like the industry standard,” she said. “They are never subjected to any brine injections and they’re vacuum packed with their giblets and natural juices which makes for superior taste and texture.”

The birds are sold whole for about $6.75 per pound and have been a hit with customers. “We have people coming up to us and thanking us for our chickens,” said Kevin. “That never used to happen in my old job. It gives me a good feeling to have people appreciate what I’m offering.”