Useful Links and recommendations Over the last 20 years we have tried most suppliers and equipment and read lots of books! This page lists the various suppliers that we have used and recommend on our courses.
We buy most of our butchery sundries from Scobies Direct, a company based in Scotland. They have a huge range of well priced butchery sundries including sausage casings, mixes, cures, knives, cutting boards, packaging and much more. Anybody can buy from their website and they deliver the next day. We are extremely pleased with their quality and service.
Weschenfelder We use this family-run firm for sausage casings and cures. They supply a wide range of butchers sundries http://www.weschenfelder.co.uk/home
Sausagemaking.org for sausage-making equipment and a great forum
Nisbets are good for china, cutlery and other kitchen supplies.
Pie tins - our individual pork pie tins used on the butchery courses came from The Kitchen Shop near Liphook www.just-cooking.co.uk
The hot smoker was made by Bradley, the main UK supplier being Grakka Ltd in Totnes, Devon. They have a network of suppliers country-wide. The Bradley Smoker website has some great recipes and a useful forum. The Cameron table top smoker, the useful ProQ Excel BBQ, cold smoke generator and all the sawdust came from Hot Smoked in Devon.
Marc is a fan of the spicy merguez sausage flavourings from Provencal Spice Co. in Farnham.
Sally is a fan of Real Scottish Salmon who have provided some excellent whole salmon for the Curing courses.
Most of our pork comes from our own pigs, but when we need more, Gavin at Blackmore Vale Butchery supplies us with locally raised meat.
Poultry – Chicks and Eggs
S & T Poultry for a range of organic chicks, ducklings, goslings and turkey poults.
Our organic white Wessex goslings came from the organic supplier, John Burns in Devon.
Our hybrid layers from Ben Wetherdon in Devon and we love them! Friendly, docile bids that are happy being picked up
Green Frog Designs for poultry housing, and other outdoor products, all made from recycled plastic. We are gradually replacing all our wooden houses with these innovative houses made by Green Frog Designs that is based on the farm. The recycled plastic comes from food waste and it fits in well with our environmental aims. As well having great environmental credentials, the houses do not suffer from red mites in the same way as a traditional wooden house as there are few hiding places. Also biosecurity is improved as the houses can be power hosed down between batches.
If you want a traditional wooden house choose a reputable supplier. Here are a few pointers. Ask about the source of their timber. Ideally you want timber from sustainably managed forests certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council. Look at the quality of the screws and other fittings. Cheap screws rust and short screws come out. Don’t buy a house with roofing felt as its a magnet for red mites. Check the perch length and area of the house.You need at least 1 ft square per hen and sufficient headroom when they perch.
Sadly there are a lot of cheap poultry houses on sale, many originating in China. China does not have a particularly good record when it comes to forest management and lot of timber is imported from neighbouring countries, a trade that is causing massive deforestation. So look for that FSC logo. I hope the last thing you would want to do is fuel the loss of habitat for animals such as the tiger in order to house your chickens.
I have bought cheap housing in the past, thinking I had a good buy but after a few seasons the door and sides warp and the cheap ply delaminates. We have three houses from Flyte So Fancy, a Dorset company that makes sturdy quality houses that will last for many years. You can tell their standards from the quality fittings they use. I am also impressed with their environmental credentials.They use FSC – certified timber and any offcuts too short to be of use are burnt on wood burners or composted. Flyte So Fancy also supply a wide range of poultry equipment and feedstuffs.
Feed and water containers
You can spend a lot of accessories such as the coloured plastic drinking fountains and feeders. They are cheap but they don’t last long. You have only look at the pile of odd tops and bottoms in my store room to see that I have gone through loads. I don’t keep feed outside in big dispensers as I like to see how much the birds eat each day. I bought some nice 5kg food containers made with white plastic and with screw nuts keeping the thing together – the geese had the screws off in hours. So we tend to put the food either on the ground or in metal feed troughs and make sure they eat it within 30 mins. or so, then they scratch around for the rest of the day.
Having experienced two very cold winters with frozen water outside I can now say that I love the recycled rubber troughs made from old tyres. Its not just their great eco credentials, but being a thick flexible material its so easy to get rid of the blocks of ice that have formed this year. Turn them over, stamp on them and the ice drops out. They are so tough that they have survived 4 years in the pig pens where they have been lain across and squished, and thrown around. In contrast the hard plastic fountains and containers are so brittle that they have crack in the freezing cold, and get full of ice and then you have to take them inside and pop them in hot water.
Clubs and Societies
Southdown Sheep Society – our favourite sheep!
Chicken keeping websites
The Poultry Pages – Help and information on keeping chickens and other poultry at home with a helpful chat forum to answer your questions, bookshop etc.