Happy New Year Everyone!
We’d like to start off by saying a massive thank you to everyone for their support during 2021. It has been a truly busy and wonderful year for us, and none of our success would have been possible without the support of our superb staff and wonderful customers. 2021 had so many highlights for us, including but by no means limited to, farm visits from stockists, receiving recognition from the delicious awards for the 4th year in a row, new shelters and not to mention one of the best seasons we’ve had on record which continues into 2022. If you want to hear more about any of these please have a look at our previous newsletters. We are very much looking forward to carrying this forward into 2022.
So why is our specific set of genetics so important to us? To best answer that, one needs to look at how they came about.
In the 1990’s the Australian meat bird industry started to pull away from using Australian breeds, in favour of importing faster growing, cheaper birds. These imported breeds are often referred to as broilers, and to this day most chicken found it your grocery store are these broilers (‘Ross’ from Scotland or ‘Cob’ from America). The difficulty with these breeds is that they don’t thrive in true free-range and pasture raised conditions.
In 2001, Michael Sommerlad began working with one of the first certified organic chicken producers in Australia and that’s where he first started to discover the need to return to Australian genetics, motivated by animal welfare conditions. So, what did he do about this discovery? Thankfully for us, he embarked on a completely new breeding project using the previous discarded meat birds and combining them with very carefully selected Australian heritage table poultry strains to create what we call today ‘Sommerlad Herritage Chickens.’ His focus was to create a breed that would thrive in Australian conditions, so they could comfortably enjoy being raised in paddocks rather than sheds. Every generation was raised in the paddock and as a result include wonderful features such as excellent foraging behaviour, heat-resistance, strong mobility, natural resistance to diseases. Which is a stark contrast to the imported strains of broilers most other farms use.
We are so thankfully to the Sommerlad family for their dedication starting this journey so many years ago. And to Michael for continuing this journey by staying onboard as a consultant for Grassland Poultry. The Sommerlad Poultry Website (http://www.sommerladpoultry.com.au/) is a great resource if you’d like to learn more. Speaking of websites recently we’ve spent a bit of time revamping our own. Our aim was to keep all the same information, but to streamline it. We are firm believers in the importance of informed consumers, so we wanted our website to reflect that. Clear and accurate information simply put for everyone to follow and understand.
As always, we like to end these newsletters with a recipe suggestion. Our summers are often filled with celebratory cheese platters, and Bryan’s go to chicken pate recipe comes from Maggie Beer. Feel free to check it out (https://grasslandpoultry.com.au/2634-2/)
Kim and Bryan Kiss, Grassland Poultry