Over the past few years, during the awful depression, people didn’t have the budget to buy organic free range chickens as often as they’d like. Thankfully, things are improving now and the general public are once again in sympathy with the plight of battery chickens. Over in the UK, 270 MP’s recently signed a parliamentary motion looking for clear labelling of chicken meat and improved welfare standards.
Here in Ireland, an unbelievable 70 million chickens are produced annually, with 4 million turkeys and eggs from 2 million hens. We are a nation of chicken lovers (the roast chicken variety) with Ireland being the highest consumer of poultry meat in the EU. Sadly, the vast bulk of chickens are reared for meat in intensive farming systems. This type of chicken is normally the cheapest kind on your supermarket shelf, and is used in sandwiches and restaurant meals.
These poor chickens are bred to reach slaughter weight as soon as possible and spend their lives in crowded sheds, with no outdoor daylight and very little room to move. This leads to ammonia burns, breathing difficulties and painful leg disorders, all of which have to be dealt with by using antibiotics. If you want to turn the tide on this type of intensive farming for table birds, when buying your chicken, look for free range or organic labelling on your packaging. If the label isn’t there, the poultry has most likely been produced in an intensive farming system.
In contrast organic birds are afforded natural conditions with grass paddocks, free roaming, straw bedding and perches. All of these encourage their natural behaviour and leads to a happier and tastier table bird. Our chickens also have a longer life. Chickens produced in intensive farming are forced faster to be ready for 35 to 49 days. Organic chickens are grown to 81 days. Slow growing strains of chicken are chosen for this reason. The health of the chickens is paramount with a focus on disease prevention rather than cure. You can taste the difference by trying one of our delicious chicken products over in our shop. Watch out for our upcoming recipes section.