All M&S fresh pork is outdoor bred. In developing our Outdoor Bred pork our challenge was to produce consistently good eating quality pork each and every time.
To do this we have selected a breed of pig with a high level of Duroc – we know this breed of pig has a high level of intramuscular fat – it is this same ‘marbling’ of fat which we know adds flavour and succulence to our famous Aberdeen Angus beef.
As part of the M&S Plan A initiative we have committed to move all our current fresh outdoor bred pork to Free range systems. Here the pigs will be born and reared outdoors for the entire duration of their lives – ensuing they are truly free ranging.
In developing our free range pork we are working very closely with our new producers to follow the very latest thinking in animal welfare and pig husbandry, and at the same time produce pork of consistent quality.
Marks & Spencer pioneered a more animal friendly way to produce veal several years ago, and has never used calves reared by the crate system. Known as the group house system, our method involves using temporary, individual pens to care for the calves in the first few weeks. After this, they’re reared in small groups and can move freely and lie down.
At Marks & Spencer we only sell fresh, not frozen lamb - so it's always tender, succulent and has that special lamb flavour. Our lamb comes from farms in the UK from June to December, and New Zealand from January to May. We are working closely with our farmers on selecting the best breeds of sheep that thrive in a natural grazing system. Sheep feed never includes animal by-products, antibiotic growth-promoters or digestive enhancers.
We sell a range of speciality lamb at certain times of the year, including Saltmarsh and Brecknock. Our range of organic lamb is also popular. It's produced on grassland without artificial fertilizers.
All Marks & Spencer fresh chicken (whole birds and portions) is Oakham™ Chicken which is produced exclusively for M&S.
All our fresh Oakham™ chickens are produced on known, specially selected farms in the UK. Packaging on our whole chickens even shows the name of the farmer and the county where the bird was reared.
The Oakham™ chicken has been specifically chosen for its slower growth. It is this slower growth combined with the birds’ bespoke diet, rich in cereals (wheat, barley), soya and the high maize content, which produces an improved flavour and succulence.
The farms are regularly inspected by Marks & Spencer technologists and our suppliers’ specially trained auditors. This ensures they meet our welfare standards which are based on the Farm Animal Welfare Council’s recommendations and have been developed with animal welfare organisations.
Chickens are not housed in cages. Oakham™ chickens are reared in controlled environment barns. They are housed on straw or wood shavings and have constant access to food and water. The temperature and lighting levels inside the barn are controlled by the farmer. We know it’s important to give the birds plenty of space so we have adopted the RSPCA’s recommendation on stocking density, housing the birds at a maximum density of 30kg/m2.
The housing environments are designed to encourage movement and stimulate activity and natural behaviour. Natural daylight inside the house is used to create activity and we insist on having straw bales inside the barns which the birds use to roost and perch on as well as pulling and pecking at the straw.
Our Oakham™ Free-range chickens are housed in similar straw bedded barns to our Oakham™ chickens. In addition they 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. To encourage birds to use the range area and to provide shelter our farmers use tree planting and whilst the trees are maturing use ‘wigwams’ made from conifer branches, which the birds use for shade, shelter and protection.
Marks & Spencer has developed its own Code of Practice for poultry feed for our Oakham™ chickens. This ensures birds are fed a wholesome diet to maintain optimum health and welfare. All poultry feed used by Marks & Spencer poultry farmers comes from known, independently audited feedmills. Because of these strict controls we know exactly what Marks & Spencer Oakham™ chickens are fed. Their non-GM feed is predominantly cereal based and contains wheat, barley, maize, soya and other plant proteins, as well as vitamins and minerals.
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 addition, for many years Marks & Spencer has prohibited the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in the feed rations of all of its poultry and other livestock.
All our fresh poultry comes from known, specially selected farms in the UK - so we know exactly where every single bird is produced and what they've been fed since they were hatched. All will have been fed on a diet including maize and soya from strictly non-GM sources. Our suppliers follow strict specifications to ensure high standards of animal welfare, food safety and quality and we use trained auditors for regular inspections. For a selection of our prepared food products, in addition to using UK sourced poultry we also use known suppliers in the EU - these all independently audited and meet our stringent requirements.
Duck; at M&S all our fresh duck is grown on specifically selected free range farms in East Anglia. Birds are grown longer for optimum flavour and eating quality.
Turkey; All our fresh whole turkeys are grown to higher welfare standards indoor or are free-range. They are produced exclusively for us on known, specially selected farms in the UK. We have chosen a slower growing bird. The naturally slower growth, combined with the birds bespoke feed ration, produces a more succulent and flavoursome turkey.
Like all our fresh poultry, M&S whole fresh turkeys are fed a wholesome cereal-based diet to ensure optimum nutrition and health. We are very specific about what ingredients are used in our turkey’s diets. They contain wheat, barley, oats and maize and soya, peas, beans and rice are added as sources of protein. All the cereals and proteins are of non-GM origin. As with all our livestock feed rations, we strictly prohibit the use of any mammalian or avian derived proteins or fats. All the feedmills which supply turkey feed are independently inspected to ensure they meet our exacting standards.
In addition to a higher welfare and Free Range Turkey, at Christmas we also sell a range of Organic and Devon Bronze Organic whole birds.
Free range Geese; At Christmas we sell a range of Free Range whole Geese. These are produced specially for M&S on selected farms in Norfolk.