An organic chicken producer is the winner in the meat category of 2013's Soil Association Organic Food Awards. The awards showcase the UK's best organic food, says the Soil Association, which campaigns for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use.
Beating beef, pork and lamb producers, The Story Group won the organic meat category with its Story Organic Chicken. Story Organic Chicken is a traditional breed that ranges well and is particularly suited to organic production, grown from organic chicks, and produced in a dedicated organic hatchery.
The breed was selected for slow growth, complying with the Soil Association's requirement for a maximum growth rate of 35kg/day. With the slow growth for welfare reasons also comes excellent eating quality with the flesh being firm and with a mild gamey taste.
The birds are brooded in the field, in small houses up to a maximum of 500 birds, and let out onto a red clover or ryegrass range around day 21, were they are given a mix of artificial and natural cover. The Story Group has its own slaughtering facilities, allowing for the period between catching and slaughtering to be minimized.
Birds are either sold fresh with no hanging or they are hung for up to one week depending on the customer's requirements. Birds are either sold whole or in parts.
The winner within the organic egg category was Nantclyd Farm. The eggs at Nantclyd Farm are laid by free-range organic hens living in small groups in mobile sheds with year-round access to pasture and hedgerows from dawn until dusk.
They are fed a home mixed ration based on Welsh grown oats milled on the farm, and are part of the farm rotation, which also includes fruit, vegetables, cereals and sheep. Chicks are reared from a day old on the farm, and poultry is part of a 6-8 year rotation, working with other small organic local farms to maintain year-round supply.