All our CHICKEN is
At Waitrose we’re proud of the way every single one of our birds is reared. Our animal welfare requirements go beyond Red Tractor Assurance: we have a bespoke set of standards that our poultry farmers adhere to.
And these apply to all of the birds reared for all of our chicken, not just organic and free-range. Our Essential Waitrose fresh and frozen chicken, as well as the chicken used in our prepared foods, such as ready meals, soups and sandwiches, is all from birds reared with the same high standards of care.
That’s why we win awards for our farming. Look out for our animal welfare marque on our own-label meat and fish.
MEET the farmer
“Our family has been farming here since 1889 and I’m the sixth generation, the youngest of three girls,” says Emily McGowan. “I think I was the last chance to get a farmer’s son! I always knew I wanted to farm and I love working with my dad.
“We’ve been rearing chickens for Waitrose for some time now – we don’t sell our birds to anyone else – and a big part of the attraction of working with Waitrose was that the chickens are higher welfare. They live in light, airy houses, with 20% more space than the industry standard and good ventilation and heating, so the floor’s always nice and dry for them. They’ve got access to feed and water all the time and we give them straw bales to play with. Dad’s even got cameras linked to his phone, so he can check on them.
“They’re very used to us going into the houses and depending on the light, they’ll either just be chilling out and feeding, or they’ll be running around and playing. We had little trackers on some of them as part of a research project and it showed they travel around the whole house, which is good for them.
Emily McGowan rears higher welfare chickens on the family farm for the Essential Waitrose range
‘They’ve got access to feed and water all the time and we give them straw bales to play with. Dad’s even got cameras linked to his phone, so he can check on them’
“They’re completely mesmerised by the bales – they really have a lot of fun with those. And when they hear the noise that means food’s coming, even though they’ve got feed there all the time, they get excited. They almost prick up their ears, like when your mum calls you for dinner.
“We’re really proud of the way we look after our birds. Poultry farming has suffered from quite a negative image, so we like showing people how our chickens actually live. We take part in Open Farm Sunday and people have always been pleasantly surprised when they see what a natural environment it is for the birds.
“We’re a small mixed farm and working with Waitrose helps us a lot, because as long as we do things right, we’re guaranteed a good price. It means we can give the birds a better life and the customer gets better chicken.”