Sommerlad chickens are a superb table bird that has been skilfully bred to thrive outside on diverse Australian pastures. These birds live up to four times longer and are a profoundly different product than the ubiquitous white Cobb/Ross chickens that make up 99.9% of the Australian meat chicken industry.
We receive fortnightly deliveries of Sommerlad chickens grown by Grasslands Poultry so, depending on when you want your chicken, it will either be fresh or frozen.
Unlike Cobb/Ross white meat chickens which are received by farmers as day-olds from large, commercial hatcheries, the Sommerlad birds are bred, hatched and raised by a skilled farmers at a handful of select farms across Australia.
Our Sommerlad Heritage chickens are born and bred by Kim and Bryan Kiss at Grasslands Poultry Farm, near Wellington in NSW.
Sommerlad Heritage chickens are the result of a 15 year breeding project developed by Michael and Kathryn Sommerlad to develop an old-fashioned, deeply-flavoured table bird designed specifically to thrive outside on Australian pastures with the highest animal welfare outcomes. Sommerlad Heritage chickens won the national Delicious Produce Award 'From the Paddock' category in 2015 and 2016 and were awarded a special Innovation Award in the same competition in 2016.
Sommerlad chickens live on pasture for more than 80 days. This is up to three or four times longer than conventional white broilers which make up the remainder of the Australian meat industry and is a consequence of the slow growing genetics that allow for the development of strong bones and more deeply flavoured meat. Sommerlad birds have longer legs and more even meat distribution than the breast-heavy white broiler chicken and they are vigorous, athletic and curious, ranging far afield in search of grubs and green pick.
They’re wonderful to look at too, with multi-coloured feathers and a variety of colours, shapes and sizes - breeds include Transylvanian Naked Necks, Australian Game, Croad Langshan and Plymouth Rock.
The birds have access to a starter crumble with no GM, hormones, medications or soy products. Then from three weeks they also have access to whole grains of wheat, sunflower, corn and sorghum. As well as bugs, grasshoppers, grass and anything else that they can forage for. This is all free choice.
"We’ve specifically bred them to thrive in free-range pasture rearing environments. (Characteristics 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.”
Michael and Kathryn Sommerlad
Sommerlad Heritage chickens represent a profoundly welcome return to the days before a single genetic strain of white chicken was raised by the thousands in artificial light inside sheds with the exclusive purpose of achieving maximum efficiency, volume and speed to market with the least investment.
We’re proud to have been actively supporting this project and selling Sommerlad birds since late 2014.
Photo by Alan Benson. Styling by Emma Knowles.