Let’s face it, if you lived outside, you’d probably prefer it if the weather was mild.
Extreme cold and wet weather is not too appealing when you’re standing out in a field.
It’s for this reason that our poultry is only raised through the warmer months. The chickens like a lovely outdoor life, in the sunshine when it’s mainly dry – that’s what suits them best.
Being a seasonal farm, this means we work with nature. We harness what it gives us, and we don’t push things when the time isn’t right. When it’s warm, we put our poultry out to roam in the pastures, and when it’s cold and wet we just don’t raise them anymore and instead wait for the seasons to come back round.
October for us is a time for winding down the production of poultry. It’s simply not kind or necessary to raise them through the extreme winter months. The threat of bird flu ramps up in winter, so rearing our poultry during the warmer months reduces our risk and also protects us from being forced into a Government Poultry Housing Order, put in place for the last few winters, which would otherwise confine our birds to a shed. Housing orders have lasted anywhere up to five months, which means a typical labelled ‘free-range’ & ‘organic’ bird is suddenly anything but.
You might ask how we still have these products available to buy if we’re not raising them through winter. The fact is we freeze the birds straight from fresh, which locks in their flavour and means they can be stored and transported far more easily without detriment to the product. The same goes for our turkeys and geese. Turkeys originate from the warmer climes of the Americas, so cold weather isn’t what they seek, and while geese are well-protected thanks to their waterproof feathers and down, turkeys, geese, and chickens thrive on plenty of pasture, which doesn’t grow during the winter. If we were to raise these birds throughout the cold season then we’d be compromising on their welfare, their diet, and the overall environment where they live.
Farms that raise poultry year-round will most likely see their birds seeking shelter inside during the winter months, due to the bad weather and muddy conditions. This ultimately leads to many chickens packed inside with little space to move, where they are unable to fully express their natural behaviours.
Here at Dalditch, every animal is given the most freedom it can possibly get, and we harness the weather to allow that to happen.
So, as we wave goodbye to that long summer, and through an unseasonably warm autumn, we are now just starting to feel that familiar snap of winter, and we know that it’s time to start thinking ahead to Christmas and winding down production. Now that chicken production is behind us, our next focus is to process turkeys and geese and make sure we’re as prepared as we can be ready for a busy festive season.