On Sunday 26th November my Grandfather's business, Springfield Poultry, made an appearance on BBC1's Countryfile. It's not everyday you see your Grandad making an appearance on TV! He was discussing our family's organic and free range poultry farm.
Tom Heap and the BBC Countryfile team visited our family farm in Herefordshire just over two weeks prior to the show being aired. They spent several hours filming in our fields for a piece to inform the nation about free range and organic poultry rearing and how it differs to intensive poultry rearing. Tom began by describing the farm as being at the other end of the spectrum. He's correct; Springfield are so very different to the large scale intensively reared chicken producers.
Why our Organic & Free Range Chickens are different
Our chickens live in small flocks. You'd never see one of our sheds with 28,000 birds in it! Our chickens also spend most of their day outdoors, getting out into the fields from dawn to dusk. During this time they're free to do whatever they like, whether it's running around in the nettles, drinking out of puddles or eating a big juicy worm - it's just what they'd do naturally. This way of rearing is much closer to nature, the Chickens (and Turkeys) are free to take shade from apple trees when the sun occasionally makes an appearance. They use their muscles, running around and flapping their wings in the open air which is why our birds taste so much better.
Our birds take over 70 days to reach full maturity, as they're a slow growing strain. In this time they're able to mature properly. That's nearly twice as long as intensively reared chickens. They get a better, more natural life. And the price paid for a better life means you get a better chicken. No ammonia burns as they aren't sitting in their own waste, lean and well exercised and stress free during their long life.
The Countryfile episode posed the view that maybe we should choose to eat less meat, but when we do, to choose higher quality meat; choose quality over quantity. Cheap chicken comes at a price - for the bird and what it does to the country. Intensive farming can lead to rural poverty as less money is going back into the rural community, as mentioned by Phil Brooke from Compassion in World Farming.
If you missed Springfield on Countryfile, check it out on the BBC iPlayer here. Skip to 9 minutes to hear about intensively reared chickens that are readily available in the supermarket. Or watch from 25 minutes into the programme to hear from my Grandad Rod and the reason we've been rearing Chickens and Turkeys for over 50 years.
We'd love to hear your feedback on the show!