Having previously been certified Organic, after moving location, they are now going through that process again. All of their birds are kept Organically, kept in small flock sizes, and are fed Organic feed. The chickens have free daytime access to green pasture where they can exhibit their natural behaviours, scratching, pecking at bugs and grass, dust bathing and generally enjoying the fresh air. Their pasture is enclosed by an electric fence to keep the foxes at bay!
In 2019 their Organic eggs won a Taste of the West Gold award.
More from Alistair and Rachel:
It all started back in 2012 with four hens and a cockerel, life was much simpler back then! Over the next few years our hen numbers slowly grew and we began breeding our own birds resulting in a huge variety of egg colour and size. Eggs were sold at the gate from an honesty box and these were well received by local folk, and visitors to the area. Eventually the birds, alongside some runner ducks as accomplices, outgrew (destroyed!) the garden and with fantastic support, and tolerance, from neighbouring farmers, land owners and neighbours, without which we wouldn't be here today, were able to move onto some substantial land. We became certified as organic with the Soil Association and continued to slowly grow. Until 2018 it really remained more of a small side business although by that time we were starting to supply shops and restaurants.
During 2018 it was decided to go all in, full time chickening, and sell our IT business. It was around that time we also started turning grey and developed a tic! Our hen numbers increased slowly, as did our customer base, and we expanded. We maintained both organic and non organic pastured flocks though really the only difference was the feed, the non-organic birds lived just like the others. We experimented with different types of housing always keen to develop new ideas and not just stick with the norm. We had some failures, and some successes. Certainly a lot was learnt along the way.
At the beginning of 2020, we were able to take on a small 12 acre farm away from St Mawes at Ladock, although we still kept hens on a site at St Mawes. This new farm has a lot of potential and we’ll continue to develop it in the years to come, converting it to 100% organic and adopting a complete, biodynamic approach. Hens will all be bred and reared on-site, a regime that has already begun, trees will be planted extensively and as much feed as possible will be generated on-site including the all important protein part of the hens diet which will, eventually, be sourced from soldier fly larvae enabling us to step away from the often controversial use of Soy. These are difficult challenges and we’ll be embracing technology alongside yesteryear methodology that has become lost amongst modern intensive farming ways. We have a whole suite of tools that can be tapped into and of course, we can also study intensive farming practices and learn from their mistakes!
Ultimately, we aim to do three things. Make sure our hens are happy, ensure our customers are happy with what they receive, and thirdly, try and make a shilling or two along the way. The latter will probably prove to be the most challenging!
Some say an egg is an egg. We disagree. Even if you could find no discernable difference in taste or texture, it’s how that egg came to be that’s important. Would you want an egg that has come from a miserable hen that lives in a barren metal cage, never sees the light of day, will never know what grass tastes like, and spends the day quarrelling with its cage companions? Or one from a bird that has an opportunity to indulge in all its natural behaviours, scratching around, dust bathing, sleeping, and spending a lot of thought on how it can get through its fences and boundaries!