After hatching, our chicks grow indoors for their first 3 to 4 weeks until they have feathered up and are ready for a life outside. During this time our chicks are tucked up in cosy barns with warm air and fresh chippings below their feet. This allows our chicks to brood and feather up ready for a life outside roaming freely amongst pasture.
We rear two different strains of a slow growing breed called 'Hubbard'. The Hubbard breed is designed to grow slowly and roam freely.
You may notice some slight variations in the colour of our birds and their meat, this is due to the genetics of these two slightly different strains of Hubbard and their 'colour gene'. The difference in the colour of their skin makes no difference to the texture or flavour of our birds. It is the life and the diet of our properly free range chickens that creates the flavour we are famous for.
Our free range chickens are free to roam outside on woodland pastures in natural light, and with the freedom to display their natural instincts such as scratching for food and dust bathing. These contented birds have properly developed bones and muscles and a strong natural immunity from scratching and pecking in the soil.
All our free range chickens are raised amongst woodland pasture, providing our birds with a wonderful healthy environment to explore.
The chicken's diet is made up of straightforward cereals (corn, barley and wheat) and grass, with the emphasis on developing a healthy digestive system. Chickens are monogastric animals, which means they can’t survive on pasture alone – their stomach systems are not sophisticated enough to extract the energy and protein they need. This means nutrient-packed grains and proteins are a crucial part of their diet. We do not use any additives or chemicals in our feed. We want our chickens to grow slowly, healthily and lead a properly free range life.
Soya is present in the feed for our chickens to ensure the welfare of our chickens, this protein is crucial for our birds to thrive while living a properly free range life.
Traditionally, fishmeal from local ports and harbours would have been fed to chickens instead of soya, however this was outlawed in the 1996 following the outbreak of BSE. Fishmeal, as a by-product of the local, inshore fishing fleet is a totally sustainable source of 'high quality, protected protein'. With the ban in place, it has meant that our local feed mills have had no option but to use soya.
We will continue to actively seek alternatives to soya and remain hopeful for changes in regulations that will allow us to feed our chickens a completely sustainable diet.
We want our birds to live a proper life, scratching and dust-bathing, foraging and flapping. This active life not only is vitally important from our ethical viewpoint, but also ensures our birds develop a proper carcass and muscles which results in healthy, nutritious food.
Our chickens are collected in crates where they will be nestled together in small groups. The chickens are then moved into a chamber where a low dosage mixture of air and C02 is funnelled in. This low dosage is absolutely vital as it slowly makes the birds drowsy and sends them to sleep without any initial shock or pain. This acts as a stun rendering the birds unaware of the next phase. Once the birds are asleep the C02 dosage is increased.
It is absolutely vital that this process is handled humanely, that the correct doses are administered and that the stunning phase is in place. In many large scale slaughter facilities where maximum output is the aim, instead of maximum welfare, there are well documented issues of both electrified slaughter and gas slaughter failing. It is of paramount importance to us that we only work with abattoirs we know and trust and have strong, trusting relationships.
Pipers Farm Properly Free Range Chickens are healthy, nutritious food, grown without the need for any routine use of antibiotics, and not exposed to the significant problems of food poisoning bacteria associated with industrial-scale systems of farming and processing.
We work with two incredible farms who rear our properly free range chicken. Our talented, likeminded farmers work to our standards to ensure every chicken reared is of exceptional quality and has been produced in a way you can have complete confidence in. We work closely with our farmers to ensure we are treading as lightly as possible on the land and producing delicious nutritious food for your table.
We believe in better farming, with a 360° respect for the environment, farmer, animals and you, the customer. Chickens mean a lot to us too, as it was after seeing the introduction of industrial poultry systems that prompted Pipers Farm founds Peter and Henri to start farming sustainably over 30 years ago. They were determined to produce good, healthy, wholesome food that they could feed to their family with confidence. We hope that by sharing the story of how our chickens are reared today you can see that those principles have only got stronger. By choosing Pipers Farm you are supporting family farms who are nurturing our countryside, working in harmony with nature to produce food you can trust.