Know how your free range and organic chicken is farmed, slaughtered and prepared.
Producing Our Organic Chickens
Day old chicks are reared indoors for their first few 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 200-600 birds depending on the house size.
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 butchered on farm and slaughter is carried out at organic abattoirs either on or local to the farm to ensure high welfare.
Our Organic Birds are produced both here at Swillington and when seasonally required on the Rhug Estate in North Wales
Our organic chickens are all reared outdoors, to ensure a consistent supply we vary production seasonally between our own farm and birds reared for us in Wales.
This is due to the risk of avian flu presented by our location as a wetland on the migration path of wild birds and our proximity to the RSPB St. Aidans Reserve.
At certain times of year when the risk is high Defra restrictions mean birds in high risk areas like ours must be kept indoors. Although these birds can still be labelled as ‘organic’ we don’t believe this is in the spirit of the organic movement or what’s best for the welfare of the birds or our team - this is why we have moved our production to Rhug, an estate we can visit and trust.
What’s in a label?
Free range, organic, barn reared, pasture fed - its all very confusing when you’re trying to shop ethically. Our essential advice is that Organic is the only way to eat high welfare chicken.
Below are some comparisons of our birds versus others.
Sold by Swillington:
Organic & Free Range
Birds Reared from Day Old Chicks,
Slow grown for approx. 3 months.
Min 12 weeks old at slaughter
Feed: Organic Certified Feed.
No routine antibiotics.
Forage on organic pasture.
Housing: Housed in small high welfare groups. (Up to six hundred birds)
Access to outdoors: Free to roam during the day Free to roam 24 hours
Slaughter: Pre Stunned and slaughter in high welfare abattoir (Swillington/Cheshire)
Packing: Butchered and Packed by our team on the farm at Swillington
Source: Our Team
Would Never be sold by us:
Factory Farmed Birds
Age: 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: The water and feed are medicated with drugs to control parasites or with mass doses of antibiotics
Housing: artificially lit shed of around 20,000-30,000 birds
Access to Outdoors: No access to outdoors or natural light.
Slaughter: High throughput abattoir, can include use of shackles, gassing and no requirement to pre-stun.
Packing: Part of a worldwide supply chain with no on pack trace-ability
Source: The Guardian