Meet our Free-Range Turkey Farmersby Robert Gooch October 30 2018
When it comes to turkey, it has to be free-range and high-welfare. Our near neighbours Keith and Paula Southey give our free-range black, bronze and white turkeys a very happy and healthy life. We caught up with Paula to find out more about their turkey farm and what makes their birds so tasty.
What got you started in turkey farming and how has your business changed since starting out?
“We bought Gluepot Farm in 2006 as a small holding. Keith has a plastering business so originally we just wanted more space to store his materials than we had at our previous home! But once we had settled in we decided to make use of our 12 acres of land to grow pigs and poultry. After a while we stopped farming pigs to concentrate on turkeys and cattle.”
Where is your farm?
“Gluepot farm is near Bramfield in east Suffolk. It’s a beautiful area, just 10 miles from Southwold.”
How many turkeys have you grown for Christmas this year?
“We rear about 400 turkeys for Christmas, most of which are sold to customers of the Wild Meat Company.”
How are your turkeys reared? What are they fed?
“Our turkeys live free range all their life. High welfare is very important to us. They have a house where they shelter safely during the night and a large area to range outside during the day. Fresh air and daylight keeps our turkeys happy and healthy, along with plenty of space to move and strengthen their legs.
“They are fed a ration that varies as the turkeys grow, which has higher levels of protein when they are small and more carbohydrate as they get bigger. This includes rolled wheat, oats and barley which we produce ourselves. They also forage on grass seed heads and berries from the hedgerow.”
What do you enjoy about raising turkeys?
“Turkeys are very engaging and calm birds so are lovely to rear and look after. They have a reassuring ‘gobble, gobble’ call which is nice to listen to around the farm.”
What makes your turkeys so tasty?
“All our turkeys are grown slowly over a long period, which allows the bird to mature and develop in flavour. They are then dry plucked and hung. Dry plucking is what allows the skin to brown and season so well. The long hanging period (2 – 3 weeks depending on the store temperature) gives time for the muscles to tenderise and adds even more flavour. Your average supermarket bird, on the other hand, is grown fast, wet plucked, processed and frozen the same day.”
How do you recommend cooking your turkeys?
“For Christmas, we roast our turkey the traditional way, using a sage and onion stuffing, then serve it with all the trimmings and lots of lovely turkey gravy. The Wild Meat Company’s cooking instructions are failsafe if you need any guidance.”
Why do you think people should choose turkey for Christmas?
“For many people, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without roast turkey. Most people eat a lot of chicken and red meat during the rest of the year and want to eat something different and special. They’re also looking for something which is fairly large and can feed a good number of people. This is why turkey or goose are such good options, and you can feed a lot more people from a turkey than you can from a similar sized goose!”
What’s your favourite game dish for the festive season?
“My favourite game dish is venison casserole, as it is easy to prepare in advance and great for Boxing Day.”
View Paula and Keith’s free-range black, bronze and white turkeys.