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free range birds


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Speaking with Wyndham House Poultry yesterday, with the confirmation of bird flu in India, France, Italy and Iran, it looks like we might be in the last few weeks before all poultry farmers in this country are forced to bring their birds indoors. Will the prices rise or fall? Will the industry die over night like Italy? Will you continue to eat chicken? What about game?

Any 'last chance to cook chicken' recipes hanging around out there?

Edited by MobyP (log)

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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Speaking with Wyndham House Poultry yesterday...it looks like we might be in the last few weeks before all poultry farmers in this country are forced to bring their birds indoors.

I'm getting increasingly confused about the whole free-range/indoor/outdoor debate.

Wyndham House openly declare that their free-range birds are kept in large sheds but allowed 'access to the open air'. I bought a bird from their premium free-range selection on Friday and it had hock burns not only on the knees but on the breast - invisible behind the large label.

The Wyndham House guys are pretty insistent that their stuff is as free-range as we want to go - anything free-er is going to taste like stringy old boilers and have less breast meat than a feral pigeon.

Personally, I sort of begrudgingly go along with this. The chicken tastes great, I pay a high (fair) price for it, it was well fed, and someone killed it so I could eat it - we're ultimately involved in food production here so the notion of actually lowering the quality for some idealistic vision of poultry happiness is at best unrealistic at worst hypocritical.

The only part of this which bugs me is that there still seems a level of deliberate obscurantism around what actually constitutes free-range.

For the record I think Wyndham House are more honest about this than most.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Speaking with Wyndham House Poultry yesterday...it looks like we might be in the last few weeks before all poultry farmers in this country are forced to bring their birds indoors.

I'm getting increasingly confused about the whole free-range/indoor/outdoor debate.

Wyndham House openly declare that their free-range birds are kept in large sheds but allowed 'access to the open air'. I bought a bird from their premium free-range selection on Friday and it had hock burns not only on the knees but on the breast - invisible behind the large label.

Maybe this is a stupid question, but what are hock burns? I've heard "hocks" referred to the foot area of a animal...as in pickled pigs hocks and can relate that to the knees of a bird, but the breast? How do they get em and what exactly are they?

A island in a lake, on a island in a lake, is where my house would be if I won the lottery.

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Maybe this is a stupid question, but what are hock burns?  I've heard "hocks" referred to the foot area of a animal...as in pickled pigs hocks and can relate that to the knees of a bird, but the breast?  How do they get em and what exactly are they?

Not stupid at all. My apologies.

Hock burns are dark brown/black lesions on the scaly 'knee' or hock of the bird. In big shed chicken farming, the litter on the floor of the barn is not changed regularly so a high concentration of excreted ammonia builds up. This causes chemical burns.

Burns on the chest mean the bird spent a lot of time lying flat in old litter rather than running round a barnyard picking at grubs.

I'm not trying to make any kind of moral point here.

I just think that shutting up our treasured free-range stock is too often just a matter of shutting a little used metre square door in the side of a hangar-sized barn.It shouldn't make too much difference to supply. And if it starts to be claimed as a reason to put prices up then we're being duped.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Any 'last chance to cook chicken' recipes hanging around out there?

This is my all time favourite

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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I'm shocked. I've never seen hock burns on a lable Anglais.

Me too. It was a 'Special Reserve' as well.

Label Anglais' site talks about healthy feeding, allowing outside grazing, permitting full growth without hormones and uses the term 'Fully Free Range' but makes no mention of barns, sheds or deep litter.

As far as I've been able to find out (and this is by no means easy) a bird can be barn-raised - predominantly indoors in what most civilians would consider quite intensive conditions - and yet still be marketed as free-range if it has access to outdoor space.

Hock burns would tend to back this up.

Wrenching the wheel back to the original thread, WH are our best suppliers of fantastic chicken. I have to imagine they represent an example of best practice across the industry. With that in mind I wonder how much difference an avian lockdown would actually make.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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I gather that the French and Italian experience has been that *demand* has collapsed. Even though the disease has only been found in wild birds in those countries...

This may be irrational, but hey, its humans making decisions!

It certainly looks like a very hard time ahead for those in the poultry business.

Since the virus doesn't survive in meat cooked to 75C, there's really no risk to consumers of *adequately* cooked meat. Just wash your hands carefully after handling raw poultry! But we do that anyway, don't we?

Realistically, there's precious little risk of buying infected meat. If it gets into a hen-house, it'll lay it waste overnight. Its not as though there might be the odd poorly bird in the flock...

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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If you have a spae bit of garden and are not too proud of your floral displays why not grow your own?. I keep a dozen out the back and they are no trouble at all until it comes to catching one for the inevitable. Waiting for the neighbours to panic over the flu risk now though.

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I'm shocked. I've never seen hock burns on a lable Anglais.

Me too. It was a 'Special Reserve' as well.

Label Anglais' site talks about healthy feeding, allowing outside grazing, permitting full growth without hormones and uses the term 'Fully Free Range' but makes no mention of barns, sheds or deep litter.

As far as I've been able to find out (and this is by no means easy) a bird can be barn-raised - predominantly indoors in what most civilians would consider quite intensive conditions - and yet still be marketed as free-range if it has access to outdoor space.

Hock burns would tend to back this up.

Wrenching the wheel back to the original thread, WH are our best suppliers of fantastic chicken. I have to imagine they represent an example of best practice across the industry. With that in mind I wonder how much difference an avian lockdown would actually make.

The special Reserve is the second bird, not as good as the other chicken, it has more fat on it and is maybe better suited to traditional roasting but the flavour is not as good

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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From this side where a dead wild duck not far from Lyon has top billing in the news, we're seeing: 1) Hand wringing about the AOC Poulet de Bresse because the requirements are that they spend a certain number of hours outside daily, and if this isn't applied, the birds lose their certification. 2) Debate over an innoculation for farm birds that has been developed because the use of this can create the situation where the bird itself doesn't get sick, but can still be a silent carrier (eek!). 3) News clips showing birds being herded into barns and interviews with farmers facing the prospect of total loss of their businesses. 4) rules right now: Farmers raising birds for AOC and free range certification are required to apply netting over their outdoor areas, currently able to graze their birds daily but during a restricted timeframe... No restriction on raising birds for personal use.

Personally, I am torn. My initial instinct was to make a whole lot of chicken stock and put it up just in case, since it plays a major role in my kitchen. But I also think that tight control in handling poultry in my home may be effective. I find myself instead of wondering if I will still buy poultry (for the moment I still plan to), thinking about kitchen safety techniques, i.e. sanitary measures like gloves, sterilizing countertops, using only certain knives (very difficult to decide which one since I use them all for everything...) and cutting boards, thermometer checking for donennes, etc. I have questions - i.e. is handling a whole bird more dangerous than cuts, etc.

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Tim, as an aside, where do you get your Gauloise Blanc? Myself and Moby might be interested in some of those!

Ah Matt, you might have fallen into his cunning trap. I think he wrote 'Gauloise' but without the 'Blanc.' Us cookie innocents get fooled easy. Still, not casting aspersions - or chickens - inquiring stomachs might be interested.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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Tim, as an aside, where do you get your Gauloise Blanc? Myself and Moby might be interested in some of those!

I wish I knew. I got the bird from a stall a Borough and the bloke gave me a load of old chat about the Poulet de Bresse which I believed. This was a while back now when Borough was populated by chancers with muddy boots, flat caps and a plausible line in bull rather than the staunch champions of free rangery who presently occupy it.

I should have rumbled when he told me that the letters KFC on the box stood for 'Kwality French Chicken'.

T

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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... Personally, I am torn.  ...  I find myself ... wondering if I will still buy poultry (for the moment I still plan to), thinking about kitchen safety techniques, i.e. sanitary measures like gloves, sterilizing countertops, using only certain knives (very difficult to decide which one since I use them all for everything...) and cutting boards, thermometer checking for donennes, etc.  I have questions - i.e. is handling a whole bird more dangerous than cuts, etc.

There really is *VERY* little risk to people from the virus as it currently exists.

Even if it were in domesticated birds in the EU, which it isn't, it would still offer very little threat.

Its similar to the chance of being struck by lightening right after winning the lottery!

Just now, to have a chance of catching it, you need to be exposed to a lot of it.

There's not going to be a lot *on* a completely plucked and washed bird.

And after cooking, there shouldn't be any *in* it.

As far as I know, the *only* people to have contracted the disease from food were the Vietnamese family who drank the raw blood of a diseased duck...

Those domestic precautions that are adequate against salmonella should be plenty adequate against HPAI, in the very highly unlikely situation that the European 'food chain' (with so much traceability) should deliver you a diseased bird.

That said, I'd rather not be downwind of an Indonesian *plucking* a bird...

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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