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This week it’s all about chickens at Big Barn

Chickens are now a huge part of everyday rural country life and, increasingly, urban life too. Wouldn’t it be great if every school could have a few chickens and tending to them could be included as part of the curriculum, so that everyone has a very basic understanding of caring for animals from a young age! This could be part of a really interesting conversation about real food and where i comes from.

No matter what happens in schools, we’ve seen a real revival of the backyard chicken. They are fun and easy to keep, and you get the benefit of the eggs! If you do want to tend to a couple of your own, it’s worth knowing how to make your chickens as happy as possible. The happier the chicken, the darker the yoke in her eggs. You might have noticed that supermarket eggs are always a really light yellow in the yolk – a healthy, happy chicken will have a very dark orange yolk – this sort of thing is better for you and for the chicken!

Not only do we like them in our gardens, but the humble chicken, is without a doubt, the nation’s favourite meat. Did you know there are 5,000+ fried chicken takeaways/restaurants in London alone!

We love them – roasted, baked, poached, grilled, stir-fried, curried or glazed. We love it so much that most people seem to have forgotten about Jamie and Hugh raising awareness to the difference between free range and intensively reared.

Real free range, friendly, busy, chucks

Real free range, friendly, busy, chucks

We all know that price and convenience are big factors in what we choose to eat and given the layout of supermarket meat shelves, with aisles of clinical products looking the same, it is extremely difficult to establish which is high quality free range bird, when it’s tucked in a small organic or free-range section and the fillets might be slightly smaller and less plump looking than their industrial alternatives, with a price premium too.

Unfortunately the two alternatives look almost exactly the same and when covered in bread sauce, gravy or ketchup, probably don’t taste too different either. So spare a thought for the intensively reared chicken and buy the healthier (for you conscience and body) free range bird and perhaps save money by eating less.

Whether you choose a standard chicken, or a higher welfare bird, it is by far the best value to buy a whole bird. Roast it on a Sunday and then trim off every scrap of meat and use it in curries, stir-fries or risottos. And don’t forget the bones, boil them up with herbs and a few veggies for a delicious stock.

To discover some fantastic poultry producers online try our MarketPlace . Or search our local food map for a farm shop or deli in your area selling high quality meat and poultry.

But, what can you do with your bird when you’ve got it? Click here for some fab tips and ideas on preparing and cooking your delicious bird.

Or, if you have your own favourite chicken recipe, why not share it with us? For the chance to win a prize, please video your recipe and add it to KIS (Keep it Simple) Cookery. Please have a look at existing videos here and try and keep your video less than 2 minutes long.

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