The Elephant in the Room

Okay, so I think there is something that we need to talk about.  Something that is going to happen this weekend.  I think it is something that makes some people feel uncomfortable.

So for nearly six months now, I have been showing you picture after picture of my beautiful geese and turkeys as they have grown from day one and you have followed their journey.  But Christmas is approaching and I think you know what this means. It is time for their countryside rambles to come to an end and for them to become someone’s Christmas dinner.

Ok, so now I think you’re feeling really uncomfortable?

I wanted to write this post to talk about how our bird’s days end and how we make sure this is done as humanely and with as much dignity as possible. Why did I want to write about this? Well, for a start, no one else does and secondly we are proud of what we do and how we rear our birds. I would like to give you as much information as you would like to read about, so you know what we do here.

So this weekend, our birds will be ready for slaughter. They will have lived to full maturity, which is three times longer than your industry standard birds in the supermarkets. They have been afforded the freedoms nature intended.  They can display all natural behaviours out in our long grassy meadows. They will be taken one at a time and are dealt with in a stress free environment. We do it one at a time, so that the birds don’t see what is happening around them.  The deed is done quickly and quietly and the bird feels nothing.  Most importantly it’s not stressed by the process and neither are the rest of the flock or gaggle. If the bird is stressed from transportation or poor handling, it will make the meat tough. We know a happy bird is a tasty bird! I am not going to write about the intricacies of what happens, but I welcome any questions.  Please feel free to get in touch.  If you care about your birds and their provenance, I guess that is why you read this blog anyway.

I won’t lie and say I find the whole process easy. I genuinely shed a tear as we slaughter the first birds of the year and I believe most farmers also feel this way. I love my birds. I rear them from day old, I have spent hours with them and they are genuinely interesting characters to look after.

So now you’re asking why. Why do I rear them and then turn them into Christmas dinner, and feel sad about it?

I’ll tell you why: I am passionate about higher welfare food. We rear our birds to a higher welfare standard.  They free range from first to last light.  They are fed an additive free diet and they have plenty of activities in their meadow to keep them occupied in the day.  They have long grassy areas for cover, hedgerows to explore and dust baths under the coniferous trees. Yes, they like to sprawl out in the dust and flick it over themselves!! I eat meat, and I want the meat that I eat to have had the life that my birds have had.  That is why many of our customers come to us for their Christmas turkey or goose.

There is so much mass produced meat on the market, that has had a very limited life span and has never seen the light of day. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for this meat.  It is more affordable and I am not knocking it, but it is not the meat I would pick given a choice. I live in Herefordshire, one of the largest chicken producing counties in the UK. I would be a hypocrite to say I’ve never eaten an intensively reared bird, because I have and do. It’s just not my first choice, I prefer the depth of flavour and quality of meat from free range produce.

So I hope that I haven’t made you feel to uncomfortable with what I have written, but I really wanted to just say something about what is going to happen in the next few weeks.  At the moment, I spend my days showing you glossy pictures of my beautiful birds. In a few weeks, there won’t be any more pictures and the fields will go quiet for a few months until we start again.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for supporting free range. Thank you for supporting Out and About Poultry.

Jade x

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