Reg Johnson, iconic Lancastrian producer and friend of Booths has recently passed away. Our thoughts are with his family. He was a much loved supplier of Booths, and here is his story.
The first time Reg Johnson tried one of his own wheat-fed guinea fowls he loved it so much, he hid it. He did it so that he could come back to it later to make sure it really was that tasty. And so that he could polish it off all by himself: ‘I was being greedy,’ he admits.
He’s been raising Goosnargh geese, chicken and ducks at Swainson House on the edge of the Ribble Valley with his step-brother, Bud Swarbrick, since the 1960s. In that time, they’ve won enough awards to fill one of their barns. The list of chefs queuing up to use their poultry reads like a who’s who of the restaurant world: Michel Roux Jnr, Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsey and Raymond Blanc, to name a few. All this success is based on a simple theory: ‘An unhappy bird is a tough bird. A happy bird is a tasty bird.’
‘We care about the animals on our farm, so we make sure they’re happy and have a good life. We treat the birds with respect.’
They’re one of the only farm in the country that grow and mix the food for their animals on their own land. This is the farm where the birds live in small flocks with twice the amount of recommended living space. It’s the farm where the animals are never in a vehicle for longer than nine minutes. Where they’re dry-plucked for a crispier skin and hung to develop their flavour. This is the only farm to produce Goosnargh birds, one of Lancashire’s best-loved exports.