Video guide to chicken farming in Lincolnshire
Harry: Hello, I'm Harry.
Anna: And I'm Anna.
Harry: And we grow free range chickens for Tesco. We're sat in Lincolnshire on Barkbush Farm and these are our free range chickens.
Anna: These particular chickens that we're holding today are a Hubbard breed that we grow for free range production.
Harry: Our birds, they're slow growing, they're quite an active bird, they've got a good confirmation so it gives a good shaped chicken and we think that they eat particularly well.
Anna: And they love to range.
Harry: To grow free range chicken we buy day-old chicks and the day-old chicks are housed inside the main shed and we brood them on heat for the first 28 days.
Anna: Inside the housing of the free range chicken shed they have access to fresh water, food is available 24/7 and we have perches, we have pecking objects which can be anything from CDs or wooden blocks; anything that attracts their attention to encourage natural behaviour. We also have bales in there so they can jump up and scrat at them, so it encourages leg strength; they can jump up and down. It's fantastic to watch their natural behaviour; very happy chickens.
Harry: When they're 28 days old, we open the pop holes and that allows the birds into the veranda and then they have access to the range. The birds have access to outside, then, for over half of their life. We offer numerous places to shelter but also to encourage it outside. On a windy day they'll tend to be looking out, on a sunny day they'll tend to be under the trees.
Harry: We don't use any fertiliser on the grass, we don't use any herbicides so it's a very low impact system. The other big thing that we do is after each flock of chicken, the litter from the flock is transported to a power station; so all of the litter and manure from this flock will go to produce electric, so we think it's a very sustainable system and the by-products are used as well as the livestock themselves.
Because free range chicken are stocked at a lower density they've got a lot more space indoors. They've also got access to lots of fields outdoors which means the chicken can range and exercise, which gives you firmer muscle which improves the eating quality. The combination of that plus the main diet makes a very good eating experience. Also we control the diet specification right from the point of manufacture so we know every ingredient that goes in our diet. We tell the feed miller exactly what to produce for each stage of the bird's life. So we think that a free range chicken is right up there, in terms of eating quality, with the best meats out there.
We're very proud of our free range chicken and we know that all our free range chicken tastes superb, we know the welfare is top notch and we're very proud to be able to supply Tesco with such a good product.