There are only five chicken meat producer farms in New Zealand and the Bostock Brothers are the only ones running an organic free-range producer operating small flock sizes that allow the birds to roam freely outside. We were lucky enough to get a behind-the-fences look.
Like most farmers, George Bostock, one of two Bostock Brothers to run the farm, starts his day early in the heart of Hawkes Bay.
Being the only organic free-range chicken producer in New Zealand, George Bostock alongside his brother Ben do everything from growing the chickens and their own feed for the chickens, processing the chickens all the way to sales and marketing of their own product.
Every day is different for the brothers, but this lifestyle is not new for them, as they come from a family of organic farmers.
“Our family [has] been passionate about organics our whole life. My father is an apple grower and was inspired to convert to organics by my late, great mother,” says George.
“My whole life, while I was growing up, my parents were producing these beautiful organic apples, and having grown up on the land we always had a keen interest to go back to farming in some way.”
The idea for an organic free-range chicken farm came when they saw a gap in the market for real products that fit the organic and free-range terms.
Heavily inspired by their organic upbringing, they brought that into chicken farming in 2014, though it was no easy task as it takes a lot of “energy” and “a lot more cost to grow an organic chicken”.
“The key thing about farming organically is you’ve got to be extremely proactive and ahead of the game. That was probably our biggest learning from watching our parents farm organically was just that key point around being proactive,” adds George.
Everything in the Bostock Brothers farm is organic, right from the grains and the feed that is fed to the chickens.
Another thing that makes their farm different to the others is that they are the only producer of chickens in New Zealand who don’t use antibiotics.
Though it sounds simple in theory, the Bostock Brothers have had to be innovative to maintain major point of difference from the rest of the chicken farms in the county.
One of these innovations is air chilling, an alternative process from chlorine baths. The Bostock Brothers chill their chickens by hanging them in a chilled environment, a more sustainable choice.
“There’s only four other chicken produces in New Zealand and they all farm at a really big scale, we’re the only organic,” says George.
“Obviously being organic, we couldn’t use chlorine anyway, so we had to find another solution.”
Air chilling is a solution the Bostock Brothers learned from France who are world leaders in producing organic chickens.
Other key aspects of their farms include smaller flock sizes, huge areas for the chickens and monitoring their carbon to become a carbon zero business is what makes them different to the other four.
Now heading into their 10th birthday, the Bostock Brothers are hoping to continue to provide Kiwis with quality organic chicken, especially as the only farm in this category.