Happy New Year everyone! With the festive period already feeling like a distant memory we thought we'd look back at our second year of rearing turkeys to remember what we got right and think about where we can improve in 2016.

Sticking to the basics

We’ve had some superb feedback on the taste and texture of the turkeys so we can’t be doing too much wrong. We’re therefore going to stick with a lot of the things we’ve been doing for the last couple of years, including:

  • Rearing only traditional slow growing breeds such as the Norfolk Black. Whilst these breeds take longer to mature they provide meat that is more flavoursome and has a better texture than that from fast-growing white turkeys.
  • Feeding only quality feed, supplemented with fresh greens from our veg patches for variety.
  • Hanging the birds in a cold store for up to 14 days after they’ve been dispatched. We think taking this extra time is essential in providing a succulent and tender meat for the table. We switched to using a local farm to dispatch our turkeys this year as they could hang the birds for longer and dress them closer to Christmas day.

Turkeys

A useful lesson

Whilst we were very happy with the way they turkeys turned out, the lesson we learned this year is to ensure that we're 100% happy with any livestock when we first get them.

Our problem was that whilst we ordered 12 Norfolk Black hens, our supplier delivered a mixture of Norfolk Black and Bronze by mistake. Thinking that it was only a small issue and not wanting to send healthy birds back to the breeder we kept hold of them, only to find over the next couple of months that 10 of them were stags instead of hens!

Stags end up being much larger than hens (sometimes double the weight) so it wasn't ideal to have so many large birds. Things worked out ok in the end but we did have to do a bit of juggling and couldn’t give everyone the size of turkey that they wanted (thanks to everyone who took larger birds).

We could've avoided the juggling altogether though if we'd returned the birds as soon as we'd realised we hadn't got exactly what we'd ordered. Things could've turned out a lot worse so we're going to chalk it up as being a useful lesson that we'll keep in mind when buying any livestock in the future.