Providing information on organic food and farming in Wales
Organic Poultry Champion, Gareth Williams
Our Organic Poultry Champion, Gareth Williams, had farming in his blood, so it came as no surprise that after leaving school and attending agricultural college, he took a job on a farm near his family home in Denbighsire.
It just happened that that farm was part of the 12,500-acre Rhug Estate, owned by Lord Newborough, which was embarking on a journey to become on the most successful organic farms in the UK. As a 17-year old apprentice, Gareth started by helping out with the lambs, progressing quickly to head shepherd when his mentor retired. Thirty four years later, Gareth now manages the poultry flocks at Rhug, looking after around 6,500 chickens, 700 turkeys and 100 geese.
All the animals are reared to strict organic standards which ensure that they are kept in small flocks with open access to pasture, fed organic feed, spend three times as long on farm than conventional birds and disease is managed to organic standard guidelines. Gareth has seen the farm grow from producing 150 chickens a week when he first took charge a little over five years ago, to around 550 a week now, with a massive rise in the number of birds sold directly to the customer.
“The demand for good quality, organic chickens has grown hugely in the last few years and I think a lot of this is because people are more interested in knowing where their food is from” said Gareth. “We select breeds that are best suited to the organic methods we use and they come to us at one day old. The feed is organic and the birds have completely free access to pasture for the whole time they are here.
There is no doubt that our methods of farming are better for the birds quality of life, but I also think it makes a difference to the taste as well. It is hard work, especially when the weather is bad but I wouldn't swap the job for anything.
“Just seeing the end product going out of the door to happy customers makes all the hard work worthwhile. Rhug is a really happy place to work and the fact that everything we do is governed by organic principles makes you feel good about the fact that we are working in harmony with the environment, rather than fighting against it. Hopefully our customers feel that way about it too.”
Meet the the other champions!
Organic Centre Wales, IBERS, Gogerddan Campus
Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, SY23 3EB
T:01970 622248 E: email@example.com