Frequently Asked Questions
Care, innovation and a passion for the best practice poultry farming has seen Waitoa grow to be one of New Zealand’s most successful free range providers. To be assured you have purchased a quality free range chicken, look for the Waitoa free range labelling with the SPCA Blue Tick certification logo, a third party trusted certification mark.
Where are Waitoa farms?
All Waitoa farms are currently in the green sunny valleys of the Waikato region.
Are there free range standards to follow?
Waitoa free range chickens have been farmed and audited against the SPCA Blue Tick standards.
Are the chickens really free range and can they roam outside?
Yes, our chickens are free to roam outside during the day to scratch, peck and forage. As soon as our chickens are fully-feathered (at around 21 days), and it is safe for them to do so they can roam outside freely during the day. Our chickens can take shelter under trees and forage amongst natural vegetation. At night time, they are housed in large barns to keep them warm, comfortable and safe from predators.
What are the chickens fed?
Waitoa free range chickens enjoy a nutritious diet comprising of quality cereal grains, such as corn, wheat, sorghum, soyabean meals and are supplemented by vitamins and minerals to ensure optimum health and wellbeing.
Are there any pesticides used on the grounds where the chickens roam?
No, our farmers do not use pesticides in the areas where chickens roam.
Are the chickens given growth promoting hormones?
No chickens in New Zealand are given growth promoting hormones.
Do other wildlife or animals have access to the chickens?
The chickens are kept in well-fenced areas adjacent to their barns and our farmers are responsible for their safety and well-being. At night time, Waitoa free range chickens are housed in large barns to keep them warm and safe from predators.
Do the chickens eat outdoors?
Chickens are free to forage outdoors amongst natural vegetation around our farms, however their feed is provided inside the barn and is available to them at all times.
Are the chickens kept in cages whilst they are inside the barns?
Absolutely not. Our chickens are free to roam in fenced areas adjacent to their barn or can move around inside the barn at their leisure.
Can I visit a Waitoa free range farm?
For the safety of our chickens we must follow strict biosecurity measures on all of our farms to minimise the possibility of disease in our flocks. Visits are on a strictly needs-only basis, and are generally limited to technical staff.
Are chemicals used in processing the chickens?
The processing of Waitoa free range chickens is strictly in accordance with New Zealand food safety and hygiene standards. Just as the water we drink is chlorinated to kill any bugs, so too is the water we use to wash the chickens during the cleaning process.
Why is Waitoa free range chicken more expensive than other non-free range chicken?
Much more goes into the well-being of a free-range chicken. Waitoa free range chickens are provided with more space to move both inside and outside the barn. A great deal of time is spent by the farmers to ensure the chickens are as safe as possible and securely housed in barns during the evening.
How do I safely prepare chicken?
Correct handling, storage and cooking are all equally important when cooking chicken.
- Do not wash fresh or frozen poultry.
- Wash hands and equipment thoroughly in hot soapy water after handling raw poultry.
- Do not place cooked product on plates used for raw poultry.
- Use separate boards for chopping raw poultry and other foods.
- Store raw poultry on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator below all other foods.
- Thaw frozen poultry completely in a refrigerator or defrost in a microwave prior to cooking.
- Do not thaw poultry on a bench or under running water.
- Once thawed, cook within 24 hours.
- Do not refreeze after thawing.
- Always cover raw poultry.
- Best practice – If refrigerating cooked poultry for later use, do so as soon as possible after initial cooking.
- Poultry must be cooked thoroughly before eating.
- The internal temperature for bone-in poultry should be 82°C.
- The internal temperature for all other poultry should be 76°C.
- Best practice – Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
- A useful guide is to cook until the juices run clear. This does not remove the need to use a meat thermometer.