Back in 2014 Coles were the first Australian supermarket to commit to sourcing only from RSPCA Approved farms for their own brand of fresh chicken, and today, all their Own Brand fresh chicken is farmed to RSPCA Approved Standards. Giving hundreds of millions of chickens a better quality of life, by having access to perches, good quality dry litter, enough space to move, flap and stretch their wings, and good lighting periods to allow proper rest. Coles have extended this commitment to chicken used as an ingredient in their Own Brand products by the end of 2020, and have expanded their free range lines, which are also farmed to RSPCA Approved Standards.
Continuing on their journey for better chicken welfare, Coles have launched a new chicken breed into Australian supermarkets, called Slow Hills. The Slow Hills breed is from the poultry genetics company Hubbard and matures slower than current breeds available in Australia. These birds gain weight at a slower rate and, compared with conventional breeds, only gain approximately 60% of the weight of their conventional cousins in the same amount of time which is purely down to their genetics. These slow growing birds are fed a full and nutritious diet and well cared for to the RSPCA Approved standards.
Slow Hills chicken growers have observed that these birds aren’t quite the ordinary chook either. Anecdotally they have found them to be more active and bold when exploring outside the shed. A Slow Hills chicken grower told the RSPCA, “As a poultry farmer for 24 years, I can honestly say that this breed of chicken is the best I have ever seen and raised on my farm. Full of energy and curiosity. They grow slower and explore outside so well, utilising the maximum outdoor range area.”
Coles customers may find that Slow Hills chicken is slightly different to what they’re used to having on their plate, and it’s the slower growth that really is key to this. Coles Development Chef, Michael Weldon says that as the birds mature more slowly, the fibres in the chicken are more tender and you get a more succulent breast, and as the legs do more work, they have a full and succulent flavour. “Because the chicken has more flavour, the less you have to do as a cook to get an outstanding roast,” he said.
Even the Slow Hills chicken grower we spoke to and his family have noticed the difference, “We were pleasantly surprised at how wonderful it tasted and everyone in the family thoroughly enjoyed the meal. We will continue to buy Slow Hills at our local supermarket.”
Slow Hills chicken are raised on free range farms in NSW and to the RSPCA Approved Standards. The range is available now in selected Coles supermarkets across Australia.