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Archive for January 12th, 2008

Poultry on TV

It has been an interesting week on Channel 4  Chicken TV.

Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall tried to contact the poultry industry to let him film the intensive production, but not a single poultry producer would let him in.    As a farmer, I find that quite appalling, as we have to be answerable to our final consumers.    So HFW created his own intensive chicken house and matched it with a chicken house with free range.   At the same time he persuaded local people from an estate in Axminster to run their own completely free range system.     

It made reasonably good TV – if a little sensationalist, but it was saluatory to be able to show the different systems of chicken production.

HFW tried to speak to the supermarkets, and for the most part, they were not playing ball.    Again, they should have been big enough to stand up and justify what they are doing.

I expect that we will be eating more free range birds as a nation, which I agree with completely.    But the reality is that cheap chicken will always be popular simply because it is cheap.   

Interestingly, a poultry organsation has complained that HFW’s intensive shed did not meet the ‘Red Tractor Symbol’  standard.   Well guys, if you refused to discuss what you do as an industry, you have no absolutely right to complain.    The program made it very clear that HFW had gone to a lot of time and trouble to create true commercial conditions.

 And Jamie Oliver had another go at eggs and chicken  on Friday – I think I rather prefer his style, and he was more successful at getting some of the stakeholders to take part.  

Interesting issues raised.   I only wish that they would occasionally show outdoor poultry in the rain and wind.   There is nothing so miserable as a cold drenched hen, yet my dozen egg free-rangers choose to be outdoors unless the weather is particularly nasty.

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