Free Range & Organic Chicken

At Swillington we sell both organic and free range chickens outdoors on the farm to ensure a consistent supply.

Our chickens are available in the farm shop, farmers markets and in our meatboxes and will always be labelled so you know how they’ve been raised.

Our Organic Birds are produced here at Swillington and our Free Range birds reared in Harome North Yorkshire.

If you only want 100% organic meat in your box please let us know when ordering and we will provide it but this can mean there will be less in your box and less variety based on seasonal availability.

Organic Chickens

Day old chicks are reared indoors for 3-4 weeks depending on weather conditions, after this they are introduced gradually to outdoor life and spend the next 2 months free range on organic pasture. They are housed at night  in small groups of less than 200 birds. They are fed a certified organic feed and are aged at least 10 weeks old before they reach your plate, this produces larger, better tasting chickens than the average supermarket birds. All chickens are slaughtered and butchered on farm, reducing food miles. Shop for Organic Chicken >

Free Range Chicken

These birds are reared from the hatchery following a similar production system of small groups outdoors, they are fed a bespoke milled non-organic feed. The welfare standards are as high as for our organic birds and they spend their lives outdoors in small groups. They are slaughtered on the farm in Harome and butchered and prepared in Swillington. Shop for free range chicken >

The Difference Between Swillington Organic and Free Range Birds

Originally we produced both free range and organic birds at Swillington. The only difference between these birds is the feed. However due to Defra restrictions and the risk of avian flu we have split production between two farms, you can read more about this on our blog here and see the comparison table below.

There’s absolutely no difference in welfare and slaughter between our organic and free range birds – they’re the same breed, housed and free to roam the same, and slaughtered to the same standards.

As the feed is not organic certified we label any bird fed this as free range to not mislead anyone – the downside being ‘free range’ comes with some assumptions with regard to welfare, but this is not the same as a supermarket ‘free range’ bird which would likely never see the outdoors.

All birds are reared to the same welfare standards as including slaughter which is done in on farm abattoirs which you can find more information about here.

Laying Hens

Our organic eggs are produced from Silver link/Bovans Nera (brown eggs) and White Leghorn (white eggs). Organic hens are bought at about 18 weeks old, we then keep them for 3-4 years in groups of 120 birds, they are totally free range during the day and are locked up at night to protect from foxes. They are fed on an organic layer pellet plus whatever they can find from foraging. When they are finished laying we slaughter the birds on farm and sell them in the shop/markets for soup making or casseroles – a very cheap alternative to organic roast chicken.

What’s in a label?

Sold by Swillington: Would Never be sold by us
Organic (under normal circumstances) Organic (under temporary ‘high risk’ restrictions. Free Range (reared for Swillington by Loose Birds) Factory Farmed Birds
Source: The Guardian
Birds Reared from Day Old Chicks, slow grown for approx. 3 months. Reared from Day Old Chicks, slow grown for approx. 3 months. Reared from Day Old Chicks, slow grown for approx. 3 months. Bred to grow unnaturally fast. Deaths from heart attacks that cannot supply enough oxygen to oversized breast muscles common.
33-38 days old at slaughter
Feed Organic Certified Feed
No routine antibiotics
Organic Certified Feed

No routine antibiotics

Custom Milled Non Organic Feed
No routine antibiotics
The water and feed are medicated with drugs to control parasites or with mass doses of antibiotics
Housing Housed in small high welfare groups in wooden sheds.
(approx. 200)
Housed in small high welfare groups in wooden sheds
(approx. 100)
Housed in small high welfare groups in large open arks
(approx. 400)
artificially lit shed of around 20,000-30,000 birds
Access to outdoors Free to roam during the day Temporarily Housed Free to roam 24 hours No access to outdoors or natural light.
Slaughter Pre Stunned and slaughter in high welfare on farm abattoir (Swillington) Pre Stunned and slaughter in high welfare on farm abattoir (Swillington) Pre Stunned and slaughter in high welfare on farm abattoir (Harome) High throughput abattoir, can include use of shackles, gassing and no requirement to pre stun.
Butchered Butchered and Packed on the farm at Swillington Butchered and Packed on the farm at Swillington Butchered and Packed on the farm at Swillington Part of a worldwide supply chain.