Toshiyaki Horie (extreme right) with his father and employee
Shizuoka is probably more famous for its high quality chicken outside than inside the Prefecture, but the locals are beginning to realize what kind of treasure they have been sitting on all that time!
The reason that Shizuoka people don’t know much about their avian treasures is that such high quality chicken has to be raised away from the cities, in altitude and in close contact with the nature for rigorous hygienic conditions.
We conducted the interview before paying a visit to the chickens inside a visitors room Toshiyaki had been himself where I discovered his hobby: drum/taiko/太鼓 making!
Third-generation farmer Toshiyaki (33) made all these by hand from scratch. Playing the drums is a good past time that keeps him fit for a work that requires constant attention!
Ventilators for the summer.
Toshiyaki’s father started raising shamo/軍鶏 chicken, originally a species from Thailand, 23 years ago.
Whereas their chickens are labeled Amagi (from Amagi Plateau) Shamo, they are a species derived from the Ikkoku Shamo/一黒軍鶏 raised in the Western part of the Prefecture.
They are raised from just-born chicks sent by Hoshino Chicken Farm in Shimada City.
The main difference with their cousins in the west is that Toshiyaku adds natural food to the usual grain feed such as wasabi leaves (Izu City is the largest producer of wasabi in Japan) and soy milk from a local tofu shop. Their water comes from a river raging down just along the farm. Moreover, the hygiene is strictly maintained with soil between the shacks being cemented over and regularly spread with liquid chalk.
They keep the chickens in four different locations according to their age. Every time they move one age group, all the soil on which the chickens live is moved and renewed entirely. The removed soil will find its way into the natural fertilizer shack to be sold to local farmers.
The chicks will be kept in enclosed areas until 30 days old as they have to be kept warm then.
Incidentally, I had to take the pics without a flash as the chickens must be kept free of any stress!
The feed silo.
They will be moved to another shack until 60 days. They will be inoculated once during that period.
The total number of chickens is around 3,000 at all times, half of them male.
Toshiyaki has also started selling their eggs 3 years ago.
They will be moved to a third shack until 90 days old. Males and females will be separated then. All the chickens will be vaccinated a second time before being moved to their third shack.
The blue container is filled with soy milk.
They will be culled between 120 and 150 days,
This is hard and very precise work. Except for the taking of their feathers done in a water-filled spinning machine, all has to be done by hand from bleeding (unavoidable or the meat would get irremediably spoiled) to dressing. Their livers and hearts and shirako/白子 are all delicacies that have to be of the uttermost cleanliness. Raw Amagi Shamo sashimi and livers are a delicacy in Shizuoka Prefecture!
The male chickens.
Now, I know at least four restaurants which serve this unique Amagi Shamo Chicken.
Moreover, Toshiyuki takes part in many gastronomic events. Expect a series of articles soon!
HORIE CHICKEN FARM/堀江養鶏
410-3203, Shizuoka Ken, Izu Shi, Yaguma, 296