New Zealand’s only organic free-range chicken producer, Bostock Brothers, has put the spotlight on animal welfare via a quirky partnership with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO), which has seen the musicians produce an original composition purely for the birds.
In an effort to continue enriching the lives of their organic chickens, the piece has been attuned specifically to the chooks’ musical tastes and is the next step in championing the brothers’ ethical farming practice values, ensuring their birds live happier lives.
Created by composer and sound designer, Hamish Oliver, the piece taps into global studies that validate chickens’ enjoyment of classical and baroque music, as well as instrumental sounds specifically tested on the Bostock Brothers’ chickens.
“The Bostock Brothers chickens were responsive to the viola, oboe, and bassoon, so I combined a string quartet with the squawkiest instruments of the woodwind family (oboe and bassoon) and added some inspiration from the chicken sound-world. The baroque-flavoured result will no doubt soothe the birds and appeal to their senses,” laughs Hamish. “It’s not everyday that composing opportunities for a feathered audience come up and this has been a new kind of musical challenge for me, a definite career highlight – a quirky project that has a serious intent and purpose behind it too.”
To launch the piece, musicians from the NZSO participated in a live orchestral performance for the chickens at the Bostock Brothers’ farm in Hawke’s Bay this morning (Friday 6 October).
Bostock Brothers and the NZSO have released the symphony online for anyone (or any bird) to enjoy via Spotify and the NZSO’s streaming platform NZSO+, and are encouraging other chicken farmers to play it to their flocks.
As NZ’s only organic chicken producers Brothers and founders, Ben and George Bostock, are no strangers to industry firsts and the NZSO’s Chook Symphony is no exception. With feel-good farming and transparency at the heart of the business, the brothers were the first and only local outfit to introduce certified organic products, naturally grown chickens farmed longer, air-chilling and carbon-conscious practices (as they work towards carbon-zero certification). The creation of ‘Chook Symphony’ is yet another golden example of the brothers’ investment into the welfare of their chickens, no matter the idea.
“From start to finish, we’ve always strived to be the very best at what we do,” says Ben. “Chicken farming is incredibly complex and organic farming even more so, and we’re constantly looking for ways to better our practices, ensuring our chickens are happy, healthy and organic. This is why we are thrilled to be partnering with NZSO to bring another first to the local chicken industry – ‘Chook Symphony’. While one may consider this a different approach to farming, we know investing in a quality environment for our birds will only further yield quality results.”
While their dedication to organic and free range comes with a number of intricacies, it’s the brothers’ love of innovation and their integrity which sees them stay true to their feel-good farming vision and mission to give their chickens the best life.
“When we started this journey, our perception of free-range chicken farming was birds roaming freely in open fields, but we didn’t see this, because in reality that’s not the case,” says George. “And this really spurred us on to make sure Bostock Brothers’ production matched that idyllic free-range vision. We are proud that our birds live longer, happier lives than any conventional free-range chicken and that’s exactly what they do.
“Our chooks thrive on a wholesome diet of certified-organic green grass and juicy apples as well as our home-grown feed, roaming freely between the apple trees and uniquely designed French chalets, and now listen to classical music composed just for them. I think most would consider that a good life.
“This composition is as much about giving our birds something special, as it is about encouraging the wider industry to do more for their flocks,” says George.
And the wider NZSO is equally onboard with the brothers’ ingenious approach to organic farming practice.
“The partnership with Bostock Brothers is incredibly unique and we couldn’t be more captivated by it,” says NZSO chief executive Peter Biggs. “Never could we have imagined producing a composition especially for a flock of chooks, let alone performing for them, but the opportunity was too good to pass up.
“In many ways the NZSO considers classical or symphonic music to be ‘organic’ relatively speaking and as a wider group we’re passionate about local business and ethical farming so there are some lovely synergies between us.
“The Bostock Brothers do things differently and produce a high-quality product – we do too – and we’re hoping this partnership will encourage the wider industry to put animal welfare first, for good,” Peter concludes.
‘Chook Symphony’ is available for streaming now on YouTube.