Waitrose has reported a surge in sales of free range chicken in the run up to Christmas, accounting for nearly one-quarter of chickens sold by the retailer.

The retailer saw the sudden rise in late November with sales rising by 25%. Orders for free range bronze feathered turkeys are up 16% on last year, while demand for bronze feathered organic free range turkeys are up by a steep 58%.

And the trend for free range is continuing for other fowl. Sales of the free range four bird roast are up by a dramatic 41%, consisting of a hand-prepared bronze feathered turkey filled with a goose, duck and guinea fowl.

Quentin Clark, poultry buyer at Waitrose, said: “Waitrose has always been committed to high standards of animal welfare – but these figures suggest that it is becoming an even more important consideration for our customers.