Join Our Better Chicken Campaign
As a dedicated supporter of high welfare animal standards and sustainable British farming, we’re inviting you to join our campaign to help more food citizens make the switch to better chicken.
Britain has an insatiable appetite for chicken. According to Eating Better, we now eat more chicken than any other meat, but this has led to rapid intensification of poultry farming, cheaper meat and poorer animal welfare standards. So much so, that the average price of a supermarket chicken now is less than a pint from the pub.
Over the years, we have become more and more disconnected from the process of getting food from field to fork and often accept cheap chicken as a good deal. But there is always a cost somewhere along the food chain, whether to the environment, animal health, or human health.
At Pipers Farm, chickens mean a lot to us as it was after seeing the introduction of industrial poultry systems that prompted founders Peter and Henri Grieg to start farming sustainably almost 30 years ago. They were determined to produce good, healthy, wholesome food that they could feed to their young family with confidence. This is how our ‘Properly Free Range Chicken’ was born.
Here are just a few stats on the state of our chicken consumption in the UK:
Industrial chicken production in the UK
- 850 million broiler chickens are slaughtered for meat each year. Of this, it’s estimated 72% are reared intensively, 18% are raised in higher welfare indoor systems, just 8% are free range and a mere 2% organic*
- Modern chickens are genetically selected to have more edible meat; chickens can grow 4 times larger now than they did in the 1950's. The size of the breast has increased by 35-85%.*
How much chicken we consume
- Poultry now accounts for over 50% of our meat consumption*
- The average cost of a whole chicken (weighing at least 1.35kg) on the high street is just £3.15.*
- Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates that we waste a staggering 86 million chickens a year, costing the country £12.5bn.
The quality of the industrial chickens life is non existent
- 57% of chickens reared in industrial systems are reported to have severe walking difficulties.
- Industrial chicken sheds are now holding in excess of 100,000 birds at a time. The chicks grow even faster, with a hellish lifespan of just 28 days, compared to that of free range bird at 56, an organic bird at 70 days and a Pipers Farm chicken at 84 days.
Impacts to our health
- Two-thirds of chicken meat in the UK is contaminated with a bacteria called campylobacter, which is responsible for over 280,000 cases of food poisoning each year and an estimated 100 deaths. This costs our NHS a whopping 900 million pounds a year to treat, a huge deficit in the already stretched budget.
- 24% of UK supermarket chicken samples tested positive for antibiotic resistant E-coli.
Pipers Farm Properly Free Range Chicken
The UK standards required to legally label a bird as 'free range' are surprisingly low, with birds only required to have access to the outdoors for half their lives. Some may be kept in barns with natural light, and be given 'enrichment devices' such as perches and pecking objects, but it is not a requirement.
In contrast, the starting point for the way we rear our poultry, is the life we want to give our birds. A Pipers Farm chicken lives at least twice the length of intensively reared birds (84 days vs. 28-35 days) and longer still than most organic and free range.
They are slow-grown in small groups, able to roam free outside on healthy lush pastures in natural light with grass under their feet and with the freedom to display their natural instincts.
Our beautiful birds are all French Hubbards - a robust breed that thrives in our truly outdoors farming system - reared on three farms within our Pipers Farm family network.
A high proportion of their diet comes from pasture, and as they’re monogastric animals, it’s also crucial they get nutrient-packed grains and proteins to help them survive a life outside in all weathers.
Allowing our birds to mature slowly and naturally means the meat, marrow and bones bring all the more nutrition and flavour to the table. The result is a chicken that is wonderful to eat, and often referred to as “chicken how it used to taste”.
For many of us, cooking from scratch has become the norm during these challenging past few months, which is a positive. With some 86million chickens going to waste every year, according to WRAP, there’s a lot to be said for getting as much out of our meat as possible.
There are many nourishing meals to get from one bird when you consider buying the whole chicken, and it makes your money go much further too.
So while we’re still cooped up indoors for a little longer, we invite you to see just how far you can make one bird go - and how many meals, stocks or gut-loving broths you can get out of one of our delicious Properly Free Range Chicken. There’s plenty of inspiration on our website, along with a step-by-step guide on How to Joint a Chicken if you want to roll your sleeves up.
To help people make the switch to better chicken, we are offering 15% off our Properly Free Range Chicken throughout March, we believe once you taste the difference, there’s no going back.
For more on how we rear our Properly Free Range chicken visit our blog here and @pipersfarm on social.
Please feel free to share any of our stats that are included in this page, to help us raise awareness of industrial farming. If you create any content around this campaign we would love for you to tag us @pipersfarm on social so we can amplify it and use our collective voices to make change!
*Stats sourced from Eating Better’s “We Need To Talk About Chicken” Report (27 Feb 2020)