Packington Poultry Farm Visit - Tony Brough
I visited Alec Mercer at Packington Poultry near Burton-on-Trent in March. I had called to meet Alec and his brother Rob who have developed the current business on their family run farm; unfortunately Rob was away on business so the honours fell to Alec.
Producing a quality chicken in a natural, safe and responsible way is the Packington Poultry mission. Alec has carefully selected the breed of chicken he wants to rear; the birds exhibit the naturally occurring characteristics of efficient growth, proportional muscle development and hardiness.
The birds arrive as day old chicks, they are inoculated to protect them from disease and that is the only medication administered for the rest of their life. The brooder sheds provide a warm, secure environment that gets the birds off to a great start in life.
Food and water is available to the birds at all times, however the food is situated away from the water to promote the movement of the birds and subsequent muscle development. The brooder shed is closed, as at this stage the birds are too young to be exposed to the elements. Each week as they grow, the temperature is reduced to acclimatise the birds in readiness for their transfer to the open hen houses.
After three weeks in the Brooder sheds the birds are transferred to the open hen houses. Again the food and water are available at all times, but each is placed on opposite sides of the hen house to continue to encourage movement. The hen houses are open from dawn to dusk, as the birds favour these times to venture from the hen house.
The birds are fed a specific diet that includes maize and omega 3 (derived from linseed; not a by-product of fish processing).
The barbaric practice of de-beaking is not employed.
The birds are checked weekly for salmonella.
The hen houses are moved regularly around the fields to minimise the risk of disease, stimulate interest in the area around the hen house and encourage ranging in the field.
Alec and his staff are passionate about their work; everyone I met at Packington Poultry impressed me as being committed to producing quality chicken in a responsible, sustainable way.
You can get a Packington Poultry chicken at anyone of our five stores; however they are also available from the website (Click here to view). Brough Butchers recommend these chickens as a chicken that is full of flavour and a great centrepiece for the table.