Ed Walters is a second generation turkey farmer – their Christmas turkey business Walters Turkeys, is celebrating a fiftieth anniversary this year! Here’s an insight into our member and certified Golden Turkey farmer in Aldworth, Berkshire…
When did you become an accredited Golden Turkey Farmer – and start producing Golden Turkeys for Christmas?
Phillip and Julia were married in 1971 – both came from family farms and started rearing Christmas Turkeys straight away.
This year Walters Turkeys is celebrating its 50th anniversary!
I studied at Harper Adams, worked at Savills for seven years and then came home to run the family farm.
Bower Farm is very much a mixed farm. As soon as the turkeys have gone, the sheds are filled with cattle and sheep lambing later in the Spring. We also have the odd pig too. My son Percy produces pork now and my daughter Annabelle is keen on ponies.
A lot of focus is on arable; we grow most of our feed on farm for the turkeys and cattle.
What do you do in the first 6 months of the year, when not producing turkeys?
We finalise the accounts and review the last turkey season whilst preparing for the forthcoming season. On the wider farm we also are busy rearing calves, sowing spring crops and lambing ewes from April onwards.
Have you won any AWARDS for farming, food or your business?
Walters Turkeys enters the Great Taste Awards every year. Most recently we were very pleased to be awarded a star accreditation for our Free Range Turkey Crown in 2020.
Apart from selling direct to customers direct – who else do you normally supply Golden Turkeys to?
- Farm shops
- Online Delivery Companies
- The occasional corporate order
- And our local pub!
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I like being my own boss. We live in a beautiful part of the world up on the Berkshire Downs – so spoilt with panoramic views in every direction.
It’s quiet most of the time, but preparing for the Christmas rush is always quite exciting. It’s always great to see the staff returning at the end of November ready for a very busy 4 weeks, preparing for the Christmas collections.
What or who, inspires you?
Successful Entrepreneurs, such as Sir James Dyson.
What was your first job?
Other than helping Dad out on the farm I had a job washing up in the local pub.
What would you be doing, if you weren’t a farmer?
I am a part time farm business consultant.
Tea or Coffee?
Favourite Book or Film?
James Bond films
James Bond films
Best way to relax after a stressful day?
A beer with friends
How has the Corona Virus Pandemic affected your farm life and business?
The pandemic has made us appreciate living in the country and thankful that we are able to produce and cook our own food.
Like many businesses it’s made us make the leap to use technical and online solutions.
Our online sales increased a huge amount and we think customers going forward will continue to order this way.
It was great to see so many good local businesses thriving during the lockdowns with customers really appreciating their local High Street butchers. Some have really developed their online presence whilst continuing with their shop, offering fantastic delivery services. It will be really important for these businesses to hold on to these customers as we come out of lockdown.
I can see that I may continue to do the odd Zoom meeting, but you still can’t beat meeting people face to face.
Supporting your local community – What do you offer for collection or delivery for your local customers?
Local Customers buying direct from us collect from the farm gate. We have plenty of staff to mitigate any long queues. This past year we offered a click and collect service that worked really well.
Do you offer nationwide delivery?
We only do nationwide deliveries for our Thanksgiving turkeys.
The Turkey Farming Business
Which social media platforms do you use for your Christmas Turkey business?
We use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Which do you prefer?
I don’t personally use any of them, but think they all have a huge benefit for cost effective marketing.
What do you believe has been the most effective way for you, to gain new customers?
Local media for local sales, social media is very helpful if we work at it enough.
How have you found the sourcing and management of the seasonal workers, for the processing of the turkeys for Christmas?
In the past it has been relatively straight forward, however in the future with the changes to Brexit we are concerned about the availability of staff for the coming season.
With increased interest in best quality meat, highest welfare and environmental responsibility becoming increasing areas of interest and importance – are you looking making any changes to your turkey rearing, production and presentation, above and beyond our Golden Turkey Standard?
We’re looking to reduce our carbon footprint, such as reducing the amount of Soya in feed and possibly looking to remove it from the diet in future years. Animal Welfare has always been at the top of our agenda. We are conscious of our use of plastics, such as vacuum bags and are looking to reduce plastic usage in our business.