Sommerlad Heritage-style chooks at Buena Vista Farm, Gerringong, December 2014.
Michael and Kathryn Sommerlad of Sommerlad Poultry were awarded a special ‘Outstanding Innovation Award’ in recognition of their work over the last two decades in developing an alternative to the standard Cobb/Ross broiler (meat) chicken.
Milking Yard Farm from Victoria, one of a small number of authorised growers throughout Australia of Sommerlad chickens, won the ‘From the Paddock’ category for their Sommerlad Heritage-style chicken.
For the last forty years or more, there has effectively only been one breed of meat chicken available to Australian consumers. This is the standard white chicken derived from imported Cobb or Ross genetics that have been developed specifically to be barn raised and reach market size within five to six weeks. For consumers looking for an option to an intensively-raised standard white chicken, the only alternative has been that same standard white chicken raised in some form of free range environment with access to pasture.
Now, however, Michael and Kathryn Sommerlad have developed a viable model for growing vigorous, healthy, genetically diverse and sustainably-raised chickens that are purpose-built for Australian conditions.
In their words, this is a bird that is:
‘specifically bred to thrive in free-range pasture rearing environments. Because of this careful breeding, our chickens have a range of higher welfare characteristics. These include active foraging behaviour, heat-resistance, balanced body confirmation and strong legs, as well as good liveability with improved, natural resistance to diseases endemic to Australian poultry flocks.’
The Sommerlads are working with a small number of farmers across the country who are authorised to grow out the day old chicks hatched at the Sommerlads farm in northern NSW. One of these is the Walmsleys at Buena Vista Farm at Gerringong who have been growing Sommerlad birds for Feather and Bone since late last year.
The Sommerlad birds are slower-growing (minimum 10 weeks at slaughter), larger, more richly flavoured and have strong bones and an even meat cover. Supply is currently limited, but we are working on building the numbers.
Buena Vista Farm were also a finalist in the 2015 Delicious Awards for their pasture-raised Standard chicken. Feather and Bone are also the Sydney distributor for the Buena Vista pastured Standard chickens.
We receive Buena Vista pasture-raised Standard chooks every fortnight.
If you’re interested in Sommerlad Heritage-style chickens please place an order. Demand for these birds will be high and we urge you to register your interest as soon as possible.
Read previous newsletters about heritage chickens and free range poultry farming.
Hark the Heritage Chickens cluck!
Free Range vs Pasture Raised - Heritage chooks are back
Want to see what Free Range chicken looks like?
Does water matter to a duck?
Congratulations also to Moorlands Bio-dynamic Farm who were 'From the Paddock' finalists for their excellent Texel lamb for the third year running.