We receive fortnightly deliveries of award-winning, Grassland Poultry Sommerlad Heritage chickens so, depending on when you want your chicken, it will either be fresh or frozen. (When we say 'award-winning' we mean State Winners and National Gold Medallists medals for five years straight in the Delicious Produce Awards - see more below.)
About Sommerlad Heritage Chickens
Sommerlad Heritage chickens are a superb, slow-growing table bird that is a mix of heritage breeds, skilfully bred to thrive outside on diverse Australian pastures with the highest animal and environmental welfare outcomes. There are only five farms growing these birds in Australia.
They live up to four times longer than the generic, white broiler chickens that make up 99.9% of the Australian meat chicken industry and the slow growth and genetics 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, curious hunters, 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.
You can cook Sommerlad chickens the same way you cook any chicken and they are delicious roasted, poached, barbecued etc. - but just a little longer and slower. Try Kathryn's Stuffed Sommerlad Chook with Apple, Pine nuts and Bacon from our book, The Ethical Omnivore. Or read about Rebecca's magical Sommerlad chicken that fed a family of four for days.
Our Sommerlads are bred, hatched, raised and processed onsite by Kim and Bryan Kiss at Grasslands Poultry Farm, near Wellington in NSW. Grasslands are one of a very rare handful of small scale Australian poultry farms that can boast a closed loop process in which everything happens on the farm - good for humans, animals and the environment.
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.
"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.
Sommerlad Heritage chickens have been winning annual awards every year since they came on the market in 2015. The Sommerlads 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. Grassland Poultry Sommerlad Chickens have been State Winners and National Delicious Awards Gold Medallists in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.
What the birds eat
The birds have access to a starter crumble with no GM, hormones, medications or soy products. Then from three weeks they are also given whole grains of wheat, sunflower, corn and sorghum. This is highly unusual as most meat and egg chickens are given milled or cracked grains. As we know, whole grains hold greater nutritional value than the standard chicken diet of cracked or milled grain and digesting whole grains stimulates the entire digestive system and results in a stronger, healthier bird. In addition, they spend their days foraging and hunting across grassland, selecting from a smorgasbord of bugs, dirt and a diverse range of plants.
We’re proud to have been actively supporting this project and selling Sommerlad birds since late 2014.
Photos by Alan Benson, from our book, The Ethical Omnivore.