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Respect the Chickens..

This week we met up with the “farmers to market” (www.farmerstomarket.ie)farmers. You may have seen their chickens in many of the supermarkets around the country with their beautiful packaging and their promise of fresh poultry directly from their farm. We have been cooking their chickens for years now and we are organising for them to come into the shop in Monkstown,  Rathcoole and Kilmacanogue soon to talk to our customers about the life cycle of a free range bird.

I think it is really important for people to understand where their food is coming from, especially now with all the media coverage about what we are eating.

Recently, i spent a day visiting free-range chicken farms in the north east part of the country. Many of the chickens we cook come from farms in Monaghan and Cavan and  that is where we visited.

When you are cooking the chickens on the rotisserie machine you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their life, where they came from and whether they were happy, but i have to say every so often i think of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls channel 4 programme on the life of a battery hen http://www.rivercottage.net/ and remember why it is so important that we buy, cook and sell Irish free range chickens. The chickens i saw today, as much as you could tell, seemed content. They were only young, but they looked healthy, the farmers really cared about their well being ensuring they were at the right temperature, correct humidity and that they had as much food and water as they need. They are in a large chicken coup essentially but have access all day to the outside through a series of large flaps that open up the entire length of the coup. The noise of them chatting away is astonishing and you cant help but smile when they come along and try and peck your legs. They had personality, communicating with each other in a very obvious way. As the farmers said “they are all brothers and sisters and they fight with each other”. It was in stark contrast to the battery hens i saw on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls programme and i knew we had made the right decision when we chose to use free-range chickens (despite the huge increase in cost).

I have nothing but respect for these birds. They have allowed us build our own business and survive at a time when i wondered how we would.