Free-range poultry production can range from a few birds for Christmas – making it an excellent route into farming – to an enterprise supplying major supermarkets. Below are links to profiles of four businesses and a co-operative that focus on free range.
Bailey and Woodford is a family-run farm business that champions free range and promotes the benefits of locally-produced chicken. The business consists of two major farm units: Oakley Farm (rearing) and East Clyffe Farm (finishing), supplying extra-large Wiltshire Free Range Chicken, exclusively for Waitrose.
A group of around 50 poultry producers based in and around Devon make up the West Country Free Range Farmers, providing strength in numbers and a forum to share advice.
The co-op is today ramping up production, driven in the main by the ongoing expansion of poultry processor 2 Sisters Food Group.
While life in free-range broiler production is not without its challenges, it is an area that has experienced steady growth over the past few years. The company, which has been in existence for 10 years, now has 66 farms spread across the east of England, producing some 160,000 birds every week.
Bill Homewood is the first to admit that rearing free-range geese and turkeys for the Christmas market is not good for cashflow.
However, poultry enterprises have helped to support his family at Peach Croft Farm for more than 75 years, with bird sales currently making up around 60% of turnover and 60-70% of farm profitability.
Enter “goose” and “Shropshire” into Google and you will be directed to Brisbourne Geese. This is not techno-wizardry – just the establishment of a brand over more than 30 years.
These articles originally appeared in the April edition of Poultry World.
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