The family business of Johnson & Swarbrick at Goosnarth, near Preston, Lancashire, will be hosting the annual farm visit of British Goose Producers on Thursday September 21.
They are best known for their ducks and corn-fed chicken with a reputation among some top chefs. They began rearing geese 10 years ago and have also become one of the leading suppliers of goose feathers and down for high quality pillows and duvets. If you’d like to know more about the event, please contact BHR Communications
Goose production at Johnson & Swarbrick
My father Reg Johnson was always into experimenting with rearing different birds, so in the summer of 2006 we went into pastures new by rearing our first flock of Goosnargh geese near Preston, Lancashire.
Since that summer it has now become a tradition for us to obtain our goslings as day-olds in June. We keep them in nursery sheds on heat for the first six weeks, then they move into the adult housing and go out to graze on our farmland when the weather is suitable.
At Goosnargh we have the benefit of an on-site feed mill, where the goose ration is mixed
to a special recipe that we have devised. Once the birds are killed, they are hung for a
minimum of 12 hours before being dry plucked and waxed.
Our main market is with restaurants up and down the country but we also supply geese wholesale and to our local supermarket Booths.
Our customers look for geese anywhere from 4 to 7 kg (8.8 lb to 15 lb).
Within our family Bud, Adam and I all have different responsibilities for the farm’s daily routine after Reg was taken from us far too early in November 2015, and we are still finding our feet in some areas. A lot of credit has to go our excellent staff - without them we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Aside from the geese, our main aim for the coming years is to increase production of our Goosnargh duck and corn-fed chicken.
Our move into feathers
As Reg was always looking for new ideas and adventures to help alongsidour day-to-day farming activities and with his wide contacts, he heard that his pal from Norfolk - Michael Shingfield - was coming out of the feather job and selling his feather washing plant.
Reg went down to take a look at Michael’s plant and a handshake later he had done a deal to buy this machinery and re-house it on to our farm in Goosnargh.
We’ve now been in the feather business for three years and so are still fairly new to it all. The feathers we purchase are from farms that dry pluck, mainly in the South and Wales. We use only the dry plucked feather as it keeps better and doesn’t break down too much. So in the season we deal with a number of goose farms across the UK.
As newcomers to the market we’ve seen prices fall by 60% from when we made the investment into the plant.
All our feathers go into the production of high quality pillows and duvets. After the feathers are processed, we move them on to manufactures in the UK and the European Union. We are always looking for expansion in our feather business as supplies of dry plucked duck feather are limited in the UK and, of course, the goose season is so short.