Sommerlad Aussie bred Heritage meat birds

Discussion in 'Poultry, Domestic Livestock, Pets, & Bees' started by ClissAT, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    If you are interested in raising your own meat birds have a read of this website.

    https://www.sommerladpoultry.com.au/welfare.html

    The Sommerlad family have spent many years developing a bird that does not grow too quickly so it doesn't suffer the pathological issues of its over bred obese & thoroughly stressed out cousins.

    Also remember that every meat bird came from an egg, laid by a hen that presumably had the same genetics as her offspring.

    This has been one of the great unanswered questions in mind.
    How can these massive meat birds that must be slaughtered at about 8wks of age, be bred from hens & roosters that must live for a couple years? Why don't the parents also require slaughtering at a young age?

    Well I found the answer on this website & it was as bad as I thought it might be.
    That is, that unless the parents are starved relentlessly, they too will grow massive, become unproductive & die.
    What is humane about that? There are only 2 genetic strains of broilers in this country. Any farmer who wants to raise meat birds for profit must buy one or the other, either chicks or fertile eggs.
    If you buy free range or organic or even high welfare chicken meat, you are buying these very genetics.
    Therefore it follows that you are contributing to this distasteful industry. It turns out I am also guilty of this.

    Michael Sommerlad was determined to breed a bird that was capable of doing well in the great Australian outdoors. The breeders don't need to be starved & the broilers don't need to be kept in sheds for their own protection.

    Sommerlad is a breed you can use as a utility chook as both egg layer & meat producer.

    I have decided to buy some of these little chicks for my next egg layers. Some will be male for sure so they will become meat in my freezer once they start crowing! Because this breed lays less eggs compared to (for example) a Hyline, I will need more hens, so in the end I will need 6 hens. But they are very good at foraging so they should only need the same amount of extra feed as 3 of the more productive hens. And they should live healthily for several years compared to the factory hens which begin getting ill towards the end of their second laying season & die or must be dispatched.

    I will buy successive small batches of chicks so I end up with 6 hens. The rest will become meat. That means I will have hens of various ages so I should always have at least one laying.
     
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  2. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I had no idea about this until reading your post.

    Is this Sommerlad breed sold commercially as meat?

    Like you say, I buy the "free-range" chicken meats/birds so I guess that's only fractionally better since they still originate from that process you described but if there was a range of chickens that were free-range and their parents weren't starved I obviously wouldn't mind paying extra for it.

    I'll go check out their website...
     
  3. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    As it stands atm Mark, the breeder is only licencing people to grow for commercial slaughter for sale to upmarket restaurants & such outlets.
    The meat is quite expensive. He's not allowing any birds to breed off site.
    However I found a breeder/grower on south side of Brisbane who sells what essentially seems to be the same bird exhibiting the same abilities, under a different name.
    I'll hunt up where I 'hid' my link & post it later.
     
  4. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Here are the links to the alternative free range breed from a breeder on southside of Brisbane.
    http://www.heritagehatchingandhens.com.au/
    http://www.heritagehatchingandhens.com.au/?TABLE-BIRDS/Gourmet-Meat-Chicks;Dept;3170

    go down the list on left of page to 'table birds' where they list 'gourmet meat chicks' & 'Joyce's Gold Heritage Meat Chickens'.

    The photo on this page shows a bird that looks very similar to the Sommerlad.
    I suspect there could have been some parting of ways at some point between the original breeders & who are now in opposition to each other.

    The chicks are $4.50 each which is not cheap (no pun!) but it would be interesting to know whether they are sexed before sale. If not, there is your breeding flock since the genetics seem strong enough to just breed amongst the flock (unless they are infertile the way commercial birds are). I would personally only do this for my own use as eventually that type of inter-flock breeding would undo the good work of the original breeder. Of course you might want to introduce a particular other genetic trait & use a different rooster or hen for that matter.

    Another thing to consider is that there might be a minimum order size of day old chicks to dissuade backyard growers. In which case it would pay to organise between several friends to buy a batch & divide them up between you all.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
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