Llandilo heritage cockerels - both ordinary and very special
Llandilo Heritage Cockerels - rescued from the egg industry
- Rhode Island Red / Australorp breed
- 16-17 weeks old, pasture-raised
- Processed at the on-farm abattoir
- Air-dried at Feather and Bone
- Approximately 1.5 kg per bird
Ever wondered what happens to the male chicks in the egg industry? Or, to put it another way, have you ever eaten a rooster laid by a chicken bred specifically to produce eggs?
For most of us, the answer is 'never'. Roosters from breeds that specialise in egg production aren't considered great eating and they can't produce eggs so they're largely seen as an irritating waste product and dispensed with on the day they hatch. It's not pretty.
It's the same in the conventional dairy industry. Cattle breeds that specialise in milk production aren't generally considered particularly good eating and the male calves can't produce milk so they're not worth growing out either. (Burraduc Buffalo Dairy is an exception.) But not everyone sees things this way.
Enter Ryan and Rebecca Cirello of R & R Roosters and their fabulous heritage cockerel farm!
Situated at Llandilo, a semi-rural area near Windsor on Sydney's furthest fringe, Ryan and Rebecca have built a small business around rescuing day-old male chicks from egg producers and growing them out in large sheds until just before they start to mature and then selling them as table birds.
Since we started in 2006, one of our great frustrations has been the lack of diversity in the monochromatic Australian meat chicken industry - white broilers rule supreme. In 2014 we were delighted to finally discover Sommerlad Heritage chickens and we've the last seven years helping to develop an appreciative market for these important birds.
So when Ryan and Rebecca approached us to sell their Rhode Island Red / Australorp breed cockerels, we were very excited. The only hitch was that we don't sell any animals reared in sheds and the Cirellos weren't raising their birds outside. Nevertheless, we were both keen to work with each other and, where there's a will there's a way.
Now the Cirellos separate a batch of young, Feather and Bone roosters out of the brooder and raise them on pasture, specially for us.
So pictured here are a couple of young chaps who escaped the usual fate of commercial egg-breed roosters and instead, spent 16-17 weeks roaming around on pastures out near Windsor. True, they ended up in our butchery, ready for your table, but that's a far more useful and dignified fate that the one that faces most day-old male chicks in the egg industry.
We've just received our first batch and cooked one for lunch today and it was delicious, firm-textured and flavoursome.
This is a great product from every angle;
- it's a wonderful story of turning waste into nutrition
- it adds precious diversity in a monocultural meat chicken industry
- it supports a local food business in the Sydney basin (increasingly rare)
- the birds are raised and processed in the same place (also unusual in small-scale farming)
- and they taste damn good too!
Do yourself a favour. Waste not, want not.