Traditional breeds are often slower growing than those intensively bred for rapid weight gain – but we think it’s well worth it for the flavour. For example, instead of the ubiquitous Ross Cobb breed, our chickens are often Hubbards and Sassos. These take 10-12 weeks to mature, compared to the 4-6 weeks typical of a conventionally farmed bird. They spend that extra time growing at their own pace, roaming on organic pasture, and getting plenty of exercise. The result is a healthier, happier, less fatty, and ultimately tastier chicken. As well as favouring traditional breeds, our butchery team always choose organic (like everything else at Riverford!), grass-fed meat. Organic guarantees the highest animal welfare of any farming system, including free range. The animals live in small groups, with easy and continuous access to the outdoors: roaming, expressing their innate behaviours, and enjoying a rich natural diet.
Our commitment to animal welfare continues through every stage of the process. All our meat is supplied by local farmers from well under an hour away. We work with a small abattoir a very short drive from the butchery, minimising transportation (and so stress) for the animals. There are two animal welfare officers, a vet and a meat inspector on site at all times.
Working with 100% organic and local meat is one half of the equation for great quality. The next is how we prepare it. We believe in nose-to-tail eating; our expert team of butchers buy the whole carcass from farmers, endeavouring to use every part and let nothing go to waste. Everything is carefully matured for extra flavour and tenderness, then prepared by hand. We even hand-make burgers, sausages and more to our own much-loved recipes.
When it comes to meat, Riverford has long believed in the philosophy of ‘less, but better’. Veg should be the star of every meal, with a little bit of good quality meat as a treat. We’re really proud of our butchery for producing exactly the kind of ‘better’ meat we want to season our plates: exceptionally high welfare, sustainably farmed, and brilliantly tasty.