Egg-citing idea revealed on Jamie Oliver TV show filmed at Ditchling farm

From left Danny Macmillan, Peter Barton, Susie Macmillan,Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty.
From left Danny Macmillan, Peter Barton, Susie Macmillan,Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty.

Poultry farmers from Ditchling will help raise the issue of food waste on Channel 4’s Friday Night Feast with Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty.

Susie and Danny Macmillan, who run The Mac’s Farm in Dumbrells Court, will appear on the high profile show, explaining how they lose around £60,000 a year because no one eats little eggs.

Jamie Oliver and Susie Macmillan at the farm in Ditchling.

Jamie Oliver and Susie Macmillan at the farm in Ditchling.

Young pullet chickens lay small eggs, but because most consumers want medium or large eggs, these mini eggs are thrown on the scrapheap or used for liquid egg despite their intense flavour.

Susie said: “To me, pullet eggs are a product at its best but we lose so much money on them.

“We’re only paid about 48p a dozen and on average we collect 8-10,000 eggs a day – 600,000 a year – from our chickens when they’re first laying.

“People don’t want these eggs because they’re small but actually pullets’ eggs have a really big yolk and less white, and are brilliant at holding together when cooked. They are the only eggs we use when we have them, and the kids love them.

“Everybody believes large eggs are what you need because a recipe says so, but you shouldn’t expect chickens to lay big eggs.

“Good welfare is allowing a chicken to lay an egg size that its body is naturally designed to do.

“If you buy smaller pullet eggs instead, just use one extra – you’ll get the same result.’

The Ditchling organic egg farm will feature on the show today (Friday January 9).

The programme aims to wage a war against food waste and started its run on Friday January 2 with an episode looking at vegetables which are thrown away because they are the wrong shape.

Friday Night Feast presenter Jimmy said: “It’s unthinkable that every day in the UK more than 1.5 million small eggs are thrown on the scrapheap or sold for peanuts to be turned into liquid egg.”

And Jamie added: “From 16 weeks old, young pullet hens start to lay eggs but they’re much smaller for the first month.

“They may be little but farmers say they’re the tastiest you can get. The great British public are missing out on a premium, seasonal product and worse – farmers’ livelihoods are on the line.

“We want to kick start a mini-egg revolution. The supermarkets may not want them, but I reckon farmers could find a market for their huge volume of pullet eggs by selling them to restaurants and pubs.”

And Susie even had to whip up a meal for Jamie on the show.

“I had to cook Jamie Oliver poached pullet eggs on toast, which was nerve-wracking. Luckily, I did it perfectly on the first take,” she said.

During the day’s filming in August 2014, Jamie and Jimmy left the outline of their hands on the Mac’s kitchen table, and they have now been burned into the tabletop along with those of their children: Dean, 24, Jo, 14, Tam, 11, and Evie, nine.

“Jamie and Jimmy were two of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve met,” added Susie.

“Jamie was interested in us and had time to talk, and Jimmy was hilarious.

“And they both agreed to help rehome our older chickens, and they were as good as their word: in December, Jimmy took 250 birds for his farm in Ipswich and Jamie had 50 delivered to his own home in Essex.”

The Mac’s Farm eggs are both organic and Freedom Food accredited, which means the farm has achieved the RSPCA’s high standards for animal welfare.

Producing eggs is a family tradition – Susie’s 102-year-old grandma Alex Eldridge kept hens and supplied local shops in the 1920s, and Susie’s parents, Peter and Liz Barton, ran one of the first free range egg farms more than 28 years ago, converting to organic in 1997.