[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]At Swillington we produce 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.
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.
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.
Free Range Chicken
These birds are reared to the same standards as the organic birds for the first 3-4 weeks they are then fed a non-organic feed (which is bespoke milled for us to be additive free). The welfare standards are exactly the same as the organic birds and they spend their lives outdoors in small groups. They are also slaughtered on the farm to organic standards.
The Difference Between Swillington Organic and Free Range Birds
The only difference between these birds is the feed.
All chickens are fed organic feed until 4 weeks old some some are then changed to non-organic feed and kept on a different field, the welfare standards are exactly the same as the organic birds. None of the fields are fertilised or have any sprays used on them, the only difference is the feed. There is now an effective monopoly in organic animal feed in our part of the UK with our supplier being bought out by another quite recently, the non-organic feed we have custom made by a different feed company in York as it then gives us the flexibility to react to any problems with supply of feed and ensure we have a consistent supply of chickens for our meatboxes.
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 (organic) 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 organic including slaughter which is done in our on farm abbatoir which you can find more information about here.
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.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column] [/vc_column][/vc_row]