Q My Sky Plus didn’t record the last 2 minutes of Hugh’s Chicken Run series. What was the final percentage of people in Axminster who had gone free range during the Chicken Out Week?
A 60% - although because this didn’t include breaded chicken and other chicken products, Hugh decided he couldn’t call Axminster Britain’s first town to go free range.
Q What was the music used in the series?
A Details of the music used in the series is available on the website at the following link: www.chickenout.tv/the-musical.html
Q What breeds of chickens do you recommend for meat birds?
A Hubbard is the usual breed for free range birds; they are an active breed that range well and should give good results for both smallholders and commercial growers; Ross Cobb and similar heavy fast growing breeds are the standard birds for intensive rearing. These birds can do well on a free range system, if they are encouraged to forage actively for their food (for example by scatter feeding, and/or putting the feeding stations some distance from the housing) but some may still be prone to leg problems and lameness due to insufficient activity and rapid weight gain. Crossing Ross Cobbs with more active traditional “dual purpose” breeds, such as Wyandotts, Light Sussex, Buff Orpingtons or Indian game will often produce excellent sturdy meat birds with a good balance of breast and leg meat.
Q What breeds of chickens do you recommend for egg laying birds?
A Rescuing and rehabilitating battery laying hens is an excellent and satisfying way to start a small laying flock - contact the Battery Hen Welfare Trust contact www.bhwt.org.uk. Otherwise there is a vast array of traditional poultry breeds for laying, including Welsomers, Brahmas, Rhode Island Reds and Marans, as well as the dual purpose breeds mentioned above.
Q Can you give advice on keeping chickens?
A Hugh has posted advice at the following link: www.rivercottage.net/EdibleProjects~Livestock/235/GettingStartedwithChickens.aspx
Q What is the minimum size area required per bird to keep free range chickens?
A The guidelines for space when the birds are indoors allow for 27.5kg per square metre – which is the equivalent to about 12 adult birds. In terms of outdoor space, the industry guidelines don’t specify exact measurements. They only say that the birds must have access to an outdoor area for at least half of their 56 day lives and that they must have adequate room to “move freely”. DEFRA guidelines state that chickens should be provided with adequate managed vegetation, fresh water and overhead cover (branches, low vegetation). At River Cottage we believe in under-stocking, and maximising shade and perching features to encourage activity. For a permanent chicken run, at least 10 square metres per bird of outdoor space, ideally grassy pasture, is advisable.
Q What do the different chicken brands mean in terms of the standard of welfare?
AThe RSPCA have a chart here
Q Do you have an educational package for school/ university projects?
AWe are looking into having one available in the near future.
Q Do you have DVD copies of the series available for purchase?
A Not at the moment. This is something that we are also looking into. Currently, footage is available on YouTube at the following links:
Q Do you have an edit of the series suitable for children?
A A pre-watershed version was made as the series was repeated in a daytime slot. However, this is not commercially available – again, we are looking into making it available to the public in the near future.
Q Who was the chicken slaughterman used in the series and how can we get in contact with him or other slaughtermen in our area?
A Nigel is the River Cottage slaughterman, and John Kirkpatrick was our stockman. We can’t give contact details for them, but details of licensed stockmen and slaughtermen in your area should be available through local branches of the NFU (National Farmers’ Union). For small private chicken runs (where the birds are not being sold to the public), the Humane Slaughter Association provides a booklet on the Practical Slaughter of Poultry www.hsa.org.uk.
Q What was the stunner used by the slaughterman and where is it available for purchase?
A We suggest that you contact the Humane Slaughter Association, as above, for advice.
Q Where can we get chickens to keep at home?
A You can find a variety of suppliers through the internet.
If you wish to keep chickens for eggs, why not rescue an ex-battery hen? Check out the Battery Hen Welfare Trust website for details at the following link: www.bhwt.org.uk
Q What was the recipe for the chicken risotto?
A You can find the recipe at the following link: www.chickenout.tv/3-meals.html
Q How were the birds conceived/ hatched that were used in the programme?
A The chicks were bought from a commercial hatchery supplying large commercial farms, both intensive and free range.
Q What happened to the chickens after the programme?
A They were slaughtered and sold. The intensive birds went to a commercial processor for slaughter, processing and distribution to customers who would have included high street shops and restaurants. None would have ended up in the big supermarkets as they have their own supply lines. Some of the free range birds had exactly the same fate – and some were slaughtered locally at a smaller slaughterhouse for sale at the Chicken Stock event in Axminster – as seen in the programme – and through the River Cottage Store and Cookery school.
Q Are you going to have car stickers available?
A We do not have any yet – but we will look into it and make them available through the website if we do get any.
Q Where can we order t-shirts from?
A You can order t-shirts and other merchandise from the following link: http://freerangereview.spreadshirt.net/en/GB/Shop/Index/index/page/1
Q Where can I get posters from?
A You can download these at the following link: www.chickenout.tv/campaign-material.html
Q Where can I get a banner to put on my website/ facebook profile etc?
A You can download banners from the following link: www.chickenout.tv/banners.html
Q Do you have a list of suppliers of halal/ kosher free range chicken?
A There doesn’t appear to be any exhaustive list of halal and kosher free range suppliers, but two of our supporters who have contacted us recently and who do supply these products are: Bedfordshire Poultry (kosher free range) who can be found at www.bedfordshirepoultry.co.uk, and Abraham Natural Produce (halal free range) who can be found at www.organic-halal-meat.com.
Q My supermarket doesn’t have any free range chicken. Where else can I get it from?
A You can check for local suppliers at http://www.freerangereview.com/ or check at your local butcher or food market.
Q Why do some free range chickens still have hock burns?
A This may be because they are intensively produced free rangers (relatively speaking) – ie they have access to the outdoors but in very large operations they may choose to stay inside and eat from the automated feeders therefore exposing themselves to similar welfare issues as indoor reared birds. It may also be down to choice of breeds – some free range farmers use the same fast growing breed, Ross for example, as intensive farmers. But birds of any breed who are kept in small flocks with plenty of room to range should not have hock burns.
Q Do you have a list of suppliers of free range pet food suppliers?
A We don’t have a comprehensive list but the following websites state that they use free range ingredients in at least some of their products:
Q Are ducks, turkeys and other birds also intensively farmed?
A They can be. You should check the labelling or ask if it’s free range in the same way as with chicken.
Q Where can we find out about material to support keeping chickens to help with planning permission and neighbour concerns/objections?
A You need to contact your local council to check about planning permission for structures. The Citizens Advice Bureau can help in relation to neighbour disputes.
Q What are the cost margins of chicken production and what do farmers get paid by the supermarkets?
A The pricing agreements between farmers and supermarkets are not publicly available and differ between suppliers.
However we understand that UK farmers can expect to make as little as 1-2 pence per bird. The NFU estimates farmers need another 25p, or £1.55 per bird to make a fair return.