The skin on a Sommerlad chicken is mostly attributed to the bird's exclusive parentage. Variances from a deep yellow, (from heritage breeds like the Plymouth Rock) to a pinkish/white, (from heritage breeds like the Light Sussex) can be expected. Colours become deeper with age, outdoor pasture rearing and whole grain feeding. In the kitchen: Sommerlad chickens are known for their strong skin which offers exceptional handling quality and a superb crispness once cooked.
Sommerlad chickens boast an elegantly hued plumage. Occasionally, signs of feathers may show on your processed chicken. Our birds are more mature when processed, and feathers have a strong hold on the bird’s body. We ‘hand-finish’ every bird in preparation for packaging, but don’t remove every last sign of their ruff as this is part of your guarantee of provenance. Comparison: The majority of meat chickens in Australia are white, and processed at a younger age, which means any traces of feathers left behind after processing are less obvious.
Sommerlad chickens customarily have a more elongated body, well developed legs, and larger, stronger bones. Their outdoor, foraging life and slow growth rate mean organs, muscles and bones grow in natural harmony. Comparison: 'Ross' and 'Cobb' strain meat chickens have short, immature legs in contrast to the large quantity of breast meat. This is the result of generations of breeding for extremely fast growth and meat production.
Meat colour varies within each bird, often distinctly darker meat around the legs and thighs and a cleaner, whiter breast meat. A delightful brownish/pink tinge is often evident in the cooked meat (usually through the legs and thigh); it should not be confused with under cooking.
Texture and Flavour
Heritage genetics and a slow growing lifestyle give Sommerlad chickens a distinctive and genuine depth of flavour. The texture is firm to the mouth in comparison to the 'soft pulp-like' texture often experienced with conventional chicken. Their large strong bones are perfect for making nutritious stock.
Pictured on the right is a comparison photo of a conventional RSPCA Approved supermarket chicken next to our chicken.
The conventional chicken on the left is the same weight as our chicken on the right. The conventional chicken is approx. 5 weeks old, the Sommerlad chicken is approx. 10 weeks. Sommerlad chickens have a more elongated body shape and longer, more mature legs and wings. The genetics of the conventional chicken clearly shows how they have been developed to produce a large quantity of meat, particularly breast meat, in a very short period of time. The legs and wings are an indication of it's young age. You cannot see in the photo, but it was surprising how much more seasoning our chicken held, which also emphasises the younger frame of the conventional chicken. You can also see the extra colour in the skin of our chicken.
Conventional supermarket chicken approx. 35 days old (left) and Sommerlad chicken approx. 70 days old (right). Both weigh approx. 2.4 kg.