All our fresh chicken is British and is clearly labelled with the country of origin. Our strict traceability means we can trace our fresh chicken to the farms where it was produced.
All M&S fresh chicken is reared to our M&S Oakham™ specification. Within our speciality range we have corn-fed free range and organic chicken too.
Our M&S Select Farm Assurance standards for chicken have been developed in collaboration with suppliers, industry experts and NGOs. They cover criteria such as traceability and integrity, animal health and welfare, medicines and biosecurity, feed and water, vermin control, facilities for housing and shelter, casualty and fallen stock, depopulation, transport, slaughter, environmental protection, documentation, and worker health, safety and welfare.
We do not permit the feeding of antibiotics or hormones for purposes of growth promotion. Where veterinary medicines are administered due to ill health strict withdrawal periods are met to ensure no traces of the medicine remain in the meat.
We prohibit the addition of any animal or avian derived by-products in any of our poultry feed. This applies to the breeding birds as well as the growing chickens.
In December 2017, we pledged our support to the European Broiler Ask and have committed to meet the criteria by 2026. This means by 2026, we will require our suppliers to meet the following requirements for 100% of the fresh, frozen, and processed chicken in our supply chain:
- Comply with all EU animal welfare laws and regulations, regardless of the country of production.
- Implement a maximum stocking density of 30kg/m2 or less. Thinning is discouraged and if practiced must be limited to one thin per flock.
- Adopt breeds that demonstrate higher welfare outcomes: either the following breeds, Hubbard JA757, 787, 957, or 987, Rambler Ranger, Ranger Classic, and Ranger Gold, or others that meet the criteria of the RSPCA Broiler Breed Welfare Assessment Protocol.
- Meet improved environmental standards including:
- At least 50 lux of light, including natural light.
- At least two metres of usable perch space, and two pecking substrates, per 1,000 birds.
- On air quality, at least the requirements of Annex 2.3 of the EU broiler directive, regardless of stocking density.
- No cages or multi-tier systems.
- Adopt controlled atmospheric stunning using inert gas or multi-phase systems, or effective electrical stunning without live inversion.
- Demonstrate compliance with the above standards via third-party auditing and annual public reporting on progress towards this commitment
To find out more, read our blog from Head of Agriculture Steve McLean here
Oakham™ chicken is exclusive to M&S and the breed has been specially selected to provide our customers with a succulent flavour. The birds have a bespoke diet which is cereal based with a minimum inclusion of 5% maize.
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 farm controls the temperature and lighting levels in the house.
The birds are also part of an industry-leading campylobacter five-point plan
. The environment in which the birds are housed is enriched to encourage bird movement and activity. The bird’s environment is enriched with natural daylight and straw bales which the birds use for pecking and perching behaviours.
Birds must not be stocked at a density greater than 30kg/m2 (the industry standard stocking density is 38kg/m2).
Corn-fed free range
Free range chickens are housed in similar houses to Oakham™ birds but have constant daytime access to the range on which they are free to roam.
The birds have a bespoke diet which is cereal based with a minimum inclusion of 50% maize. No artificial pigments are permitted in the feed.
Birds must not be stocked at a density greater than 27.5kg/m2 with only one thinning permitted and the area of range is determined on the basis of 1m2 per bird.
Organic chickens are fed and stocked to the same specifications as free range birds.
We also sell a range of Shazans branded Halal chicken in a selection of stores, which has been certified by the Halal Food Authority (HFA). Birds reared for Shazans products are from farms that meet our Select Farm requirements and are pre-slaughter stunned. Find out more about the HFA’s Halal food certification.