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Tell me about Oakham™ Chicken

Where are Marks & Spencer chickens reared?

All Marks & Spencer fresh Oakham™ chickens (whole birds and portions) are reared on specially selected, known and audited farms in the UK.  Oakham™ Chicken is exclusive to Marks & Spencer.  Our strict traceability means we can trace each bird back to the farms where they were reared. So proud are we of our Oakham™ chicken farmers, we even put the name of the farmer who reared the bird and the county where it was produced on the packaging.

What are the chickens fed?

Marks & Spencer has developed its own Code of Practice for poultry feed which ensures birds are fed a wholesome diet to maintain optimum health and welfare.  All poultry feed used in the Marks & Spencer supply chain originates from known independently audited feedmills.  Because of these strict controls we know exactly what Marks & Spencer chickens are fed.  Oakham™ chickens have an improved flavour and succulence. This is because they are fed a bespoke diet which is cereal based (soya, wheat, maize, barley) with a high maize content.

Marks & Spencer prohibits the addition of any animal or avian derived by-products in any of its feed.  This applies to the breeding birds as well as the chickens reared for food.

What are the living conditions for the Oakham™chickens?

Oakham chickens are reared in controlled environment barns. The birds are housed on straw or wood shavings and have constant access to food and water. The temperature and lighting levels in the house are controlled by the farmer.  We have adopted the RSPCA’s recommendations on stocking density, therefore birds are housed at a maximum of 30kg/m2. The environment in which the birds are housed is enriched to encourage bird movement and activity. The birds’ environment is enriched with straw bales which they use for pecking and perching behaviours. The chickens have natural daylight.

Our Oakham™ free-range chickens are reared in similar houses to standard chickens but have constant daytime access to the range on which they are free to roam.  In the free-range system the internal house stocking density is 27kg/m2 and the area of range is determined on the basis of 1m2 per bird.  Conifer wigwams are used to provide overhead shelter for the birds on the range and encourage more chickens to leave the barn.

Are any Marks & Spencer chickens kept in cages?

No, none of the chickens are ever kept in cages.

What is the difference between an Free-range Organic and Free-range Oakham ™ Chicken?

Both organic and free-range chickens have access to the outside.  The principal difference is that the organic chickens feed and the pasture on which it ranges is organic.

How do you ensure Marks & Spencer Oakham™ Chicken is produced to high standards of animal welfare?

Marks & Spencer is committed to the highest standards of animal welfare.  Together with our suppliers we have developed detailed Codes of Practice, which insist on the highest standards of animal welfare, food safety and quality throughout the animal’s life. With specific regard to animal welfare, Marks & Spencer has adopted the recommendations of the Government’s independent advisory body, the Farm Animal Welfare Council in our Codes of Practice. We meet regularly with animal welfare organisations.

All farms supplying Marks & Spencer are audited by Marks & Spencer technologists and trained, skilled auditors who know our detailed standards.  Before any farm can supply Marks & Spencer it must meet the requirements of our Codes of Practice.

Are they fed any antibiotics?

If a bird is ill or there is a threat of disease the veterinary surgeon responsible for the care of the chicken is permitted to use antibiotics to treat the bird.  We do not permit the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in any of our chicken production.

Are they given any hormones?

No.  It is illegal to administer any growth promoting hormones to any animal used for food production in the UK and throughout the EU.  To make sure this does not happen, Marks & Spencer commission tests on all our meat products at an independent laboratory to ensure they do not contain any residues of hormones or veterinary medicines.

Are Marks & Spencer Fresh Oakham™ Chickens really fresh or have they been frozen?

They are all fresh (Class A) and have never been frozen.

Does Marks & Spencer fresh Oakham™ Chicken contain added water?

No, we don't add any water to the chicken.

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