Jody Baxter of Cottage Farm Turkeys is a second generation Christmas turkey farmer producing birds to our TFTA Golden Turkey Quality Assurance code at their family farm in Cudham, Kent. He’s been a turkey farmer all his life and hopes his two young boys will also follow in the business…
When did you become an accredited Golden Turkey Farmer – and start producing Golden Turkeys for Christmas?
My parents bought 10 acres of land in approx. 1978, this was the start of Cottage Farm Turkeys, they started with an incubator in a bedroom and supplying friends and family but the business soon grew. I believe Cottage Farm was one the founder members of the TFTA so we have been producing Golden turkeys since the association started.
I was born in the farmhouse at Cottage Farm so it’s fair to say I have been a turkey farmer my whole life, I am the second generation and I have two boys Lucas 5 and Alfie 2 so there might be a third generation unless their mother can convince them to get a proper job!
What do you do in the first 6 months of the year, when not producing turkeys?
As mentioned above we have a butchers shop located at Polhill Garden Centre, near Sevenoaks and we also brood and sell turkey growers (5-6 weeks old) to other producers all over the country. These things, plus my cattle seem to keep me busy all year!
Have you won any awards for farming, food or your business?
We have achieved a gold star from the Great Taste Awards for our whole bronze turkey, every year for 5 years, apart from the year it got lost in the post on the way to judging!
We also enter the Anglian Turkey Association Christmas show every year where we have won numerous classes and won the best in show in 7 of the last 10 years, pre-covid.
Who do you normally sell your oven-ready Golden Turkeys to for Christmas?
The majority of our turkeys go through our own retail butchers shop but we do also supply a couple of other butchers. We also finish some catering turkeys to supply some pubs and restaurants locally through our catering butchery.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Spending the majority of my time outside!
What or who, inspires you?
My kids and producing good quality livestock.
What was your first job?
I used to go strimming people’s gardens in the school holidays for about £20 per day, I thought I was a millionaire!
What would you be doing, if you weren’t a farmer?
Trying to be a farmer!
Tea or Coffee?
Favourite Book or Film?
If I’m not allowed to say turkey then probably a nice thick Rib-eye steak
Best way to relax after a stressful day?
I’m still trying to play football although father-time is winning the battle.
How has the Corona Virus Pandemic affected your farm life and business?
The pandemic has increased sales through the butchery, the panic buying before the first lockdown meant we were incredibly busy. We did also start a local delivery service which was very popular with people isolating.
We try and support the local community where possible –donating vouchers for raffles and turkeys for various charity meals locally.
Do you offer nationwide delivery?
We don’t offer nationwide delivery but we do local delivery and a click and collect service through our website cottagefarmmeats.co.uk alongside our over-the-counter sales in the shop.
Which social media platforms do you use for your Christmas Turkey business?
We are on Facebook and Twitter, I am pretty useless on social media but we have someone now who is much better than me at it! It’s hard to say which thing brings in the most customers.
Do you foresee any particular staffing problems this year, for the processing of the turkeys for Christmas?
We are fairly lucky with regards to labour in doing most things ourselves with in house staff, and local people who come to help every year.
I’m not looking to make any major changes to my turkey production, although you can always improve!