Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Oakland Organics

Chick chick chick chick chicken, lay a little egg for me. Or don't lay an egg, just get fat so I can kill you an eat you!

I visited a farm in Bonvilston near Cardiff to see what really happens to a chicken before it gets to supermarket shelves. Oakland Organics is a meat and poultry farm that has won a host of awards, especially for its ethically produced chicken. Becca and John run the farm and let their chickens roam free range to seal the ethical stamp.

So I went along to see the start of the chicken journey.
The chickens are reared for about

12weeks before they are killed. This ensures they have enough meat on them and not that much fat for a great taste. Watching the chickens being killed shocked me at first. I didn't really know what to expect. The chickens are stunned in the head and then their throats are cut to make sure they are definitely dead. The chicken has to be bleeding profusely to comply with the vet regulations.

After they are dead they are, well, almost blanched in a revolving cage to soften the body so the feathers can be plucked easily. The majority of the feathers are removed by a machine that whizzes around as you hold the chicken over it. The rest is done by hand.

On the right is the plucking machine and of course the end result-plucked chicken.
I actually killed 3 chickens with the guidance of Farmer John. At first it was slightly odd but I just kind of forgot about the fact they were animals and just got on with it. It was like I was on a extremely important mission and if I didn't do it terrible things would happen. It was a strange experience. I have spoken to people that have said that they couldn't do it but to be honest, if you are going to eat meat, you have to know where it comes from and how it ends up on your plate. The plucking was slightly therapeutic. Having to pull out every last one before they could be butchered was quite a difficult task. The amount of work that goes into preparing each chicken was surprised be but I'm not sure why! Its just reminded me of the importance of buying meat from reputable sources. Giving the producers a decent price for their ware as they are giving you top quality produce. It's all about care. Oakland Organics put the time and care into producing the meat so consumers should put the time and care into purchasing it and preparing it.

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