We discovered a happy brood of Arlington Whites in a herb-filled meadow on Cackleberry Farm – the home of the perfect egg.
Deep in the Cotswolds, Cackleberry Farm is basically a holiday camp for chickens. There are broad meadows planted with fragrant herbs, feeding stations with the finest wheat and maize, spacious roosts – and a trampoline just for fun. It’s home to a happy brood of majestic Arlington Whites, exclusively bred at the farm. This rare breed produce eggs with a naturally larger yolk that is a deeper colour. According to Farmer Patrick Bournes, we know they are happy because of their full white plumages – a product of their stress-free healthy lives.
Patrick and Stephanie, who set up the Cackleberry Farm four years ago, breed the hens themselves. They are fed from day one with a maize, wheat and herb diet and this, says Patrick, is the key to making them so healthy. Cackleberry Farm’s hens are fed four times a day on a maize and wheat mash, which marks them apart from other British hens, which are typically fed just wheat. Laying is energy intensive, so they need a good start and plenty of food to keep them healthy and happy. The richness and naturalness of the diet is obvious in the yellow legs and full beaks – no beak clipping here.
As well as their diet, Cackleberry hens have large sheds with plenty of perch space and a large scratch area. During the day they roam free in small flocks – the space and smaller numbers help to reduce stress, resulting in happier, healthier hens and the best quality eggs. They roam in lush green fields, which are sown with natural herbs for the hens to nibble.
Patrick and Steph test their eggs constantly because they need to be sure the quality is consistent – and they ask for feedback from their customers too. They study the colour, texture and taste – you can tell a CackleBean egg by the bright white shell, vivid orange yolks and whites, and the rich, smooth flavour. It’s the perfect egg.
Take a look at our video and you’ll see how much care is behind the laying of every single Cacklebean Egg.
Eggs in action
At The Kingham Plough in Oxfordshire, 5 miles from Cackleberry Farm, Chef-Proprietor Emily Watkins has made Arlington eggs a star on her a la carte menu. At the Kingham Plough, they only use CackleBean eggs. Emily explains, “Provenance of ingredients to me really, really matters”. Knowing where the eggs come from means that she can get “a consistently good product – things that taste delicious”. A favourite with guests is her egg with mushrooms and a fresh watercress sauce.
Working with Cackleberry Farm
We work exclusively with Cackleberry Farm because we share the same ethos and aims – and the passion for producing high quality products. Finding these producers who share this drive is why Wellocks scours the country to find the perfect ingredients for our customers. I firmly believe that our passion and hunger to constantly search for ‘the perfect ingredient’ are the key ingredients in our business.