Cracknell's Farm: celebrating over half a century
For over 60 years we at Cracknell’s Farm have been rearing poultry in a natural and traditional way: that’s even longer than intensive poultry has been around!
All our birds are free-range and additive free. The birds come onto the farm as day-old chicks and remain on the farm throughout their lives. They are processed by me (Jeff) and a small team of workers on a weekly basis, before being delivered to about 20 local farm shops and butchers, all within 40 miles of our farm.
At any one time there are approximately 2,000 chicken roaming 9 acres of pasture, along with about 100 ducks. Goslings arrive in late Spring and are available for the table from Michaelmas through to New Year – they are a real treat. Much has changed in agriculture since Cracknell’s Farm started 6 decades ago: mechanisation has made for greater efficiencies; legislation for greater difficulty, and bureaucracy for much more paper! One thing that has remained the same on the farm is the same work ethic and pride in producing a top-notch product.
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Mum & Dad bought their home and 4 acres of land when they married in 1952, they paid £1,750 which others said was way too much! And the small-holding began.
Dad was employed on a local mixed farm but he was itching to go into business on his own. One morning he looked at his calendar which had a Bible verse on it; Psalm 91v4: “He shall cover you with His feathers and under His wings you shall take refuge.” Dad saw this as his ‘green light’ to go ahead.
So off Dad went on his bicycle and sold chicken each week to the local shop.
After a few weeks the shopkeeper told him that he could buy intensive chicken much cheaper and therefore didn’t want Dad’s chicken any more. My dad came home very sad because he just couldn’t compete with the other price: his dream had just died. What was he going to do with all the chicken that were currently growing?
However, it wasn’t long before the shopkeeper got back to Dad saying that his customers much preferred Dad’s chicken to the intensive ones. So Cracknell’s Free Range chicken continued.
... and my story:
I (Jeff) was ‘hatched out’ on the farm, the youngest of a brood of 4, having 3 older sisters. It became apparent from a very early age that farming was in my blood. I loved just about any outdoor work apart from milking the goats which my sisters were better at doing. I was delighted when the day finally came that I could leave school, all I had ever wanted to do was farming.
I had a similar sales experience to Dad’s 40 years on when other cheaper free-range chicken became available, but once again our customers could tell the difference and asked specifically for Cracknell’s chicken. I don’t have ambitions to conquer the world poultry market or to supply supermarkets, but I do want to earn an honest living being part of the local economy.
Thank you for your support over the years.