Preparing for the arrival of this year’s fluffy Golden Turkeys!
In order for our Golden Turkey farmers to sell their Christmas birds with the Golden Turkey accreditation mark, they must grow their turkeys to a minimum age of 20 weeks – this ensures maturity of the bird, resulting in fine quality and flavour. It also means the turkey poults need to be ordered by late Spring, so that their day-old birds from approved hatcheries can be delivered in early summer.
Golden Turkey Farmers order their required poults from two highly regarded hatcheries; Hockenhull Hatcheries and Farmgate Hatcheries – both are successful experienced family businesses that specialise in producing quality turkey poults for UK turkey farmers. Their particular specialism is developing and providing poults bred to work with the slow growing and free-range methods required for the Golden Turkey accreditation and the farmer’s own needs to satisfy their customer orders.
Our Golden Turkey farmers look for birds that will provide well-conformed carcasses and finish. The management of these birds is significantly focused on, ensuring excellent welfare and good health. Our farmers also look to these hatcheries for a range of breeds to cover a full scope of oven ready whole bird weights and butcher cuts (i.e. crowns, butterflies and joints), which meet the needs and expectations of their customers for the festive season.
The whole live production process at these hatcheries is continually evolving, as these specialist breeders continually strive to improve the health status of the day old poults produced.
Turkey breeding hens will usually start to lay at around 32 weeks of age, with the incubation period for a turkey egg being 28 days.
These hatcheries are purpose built and provide the exact environment required to store, incubate and hatch the turkey eggs to suit turkey farmers needs.
Both Hockenhull and Farmgate hatcheries offer our farmers breed performance guides and all appropriate advice needed to guide the producer through the brooding and growing process.
Farmgate hatcheries have developed their Farmgate Formula – offering online guidance for their poult customers as a management tool to help farmers with their Christmas planning.
Entering the hatcheries order will predict the weight spreads, which is based on Farmgate’s knowledge of performance, (although this varies with conditions on each farm). The farmer can then enter as much or as little information as required when using the costing tool to help advise on profitability or minimum price required for final oven-ready product to customers.
The hatcheries offer their own specially developed strains of turkey poults.
Hockenhull produce both white and black feathered birds – Hockenhull White; Hockenhull Black; Wirral White; Wirral Black and Wirral Supreme.
This year, Farmgate Hatcheries is offering nine breeds of turkey for Christmas production, and has published a guide to choosing the best breed of day-old poult to meet the needs of different producers. Over the last 30 years the hatchery has considerably widened its traditional turkey gene pool, adding breeds such as the Wrolstad, Roly Poly and Plumpy to its own white, bronze and black feathered lines – developing one of the world’s largest pool of coloured breeds.
Paul Kelly, owner of Farmgate Hatcheries commented “Having so many different breeds may seem complicated and, of course, it is,” said Kelly. “But we recognise that our customers produce a spread of weights to meet their own individual requirements. With just one or two poult placements a year, they need a comprehensive selection of strains to build their best order.”
In early summer the Golden Turkey farmer’s order of poults are boxed in purpose made poult boxes and delivered in temperature-controlled vehicles, ensuring excellent transport conditions to the farm. Each Golden Turkey farmer places specific orders to be delivered on specified days, to fit with their particular slow grown Golden Turkey plans.
Producing Golden Turkeys for Christmas is undertaken by 37 accredited member family farms across the UK, of varying sizes, all of whom take great pride, interest and serious responsibility in what they do. Selecting their suitable range of poults in order to satisfy Christmas orders for farmgate customers, butchers, farm shops and catering customers is the first and very important part of the slow growing programme for the Golden Turkey farmer – which enables them to deliver the very best quality Christmas turkey, deserving of our Golden Turkey mark!
Martin Sheen, Owner of Hockenhull Hatcheries commented; “TFTA Golden Turkey members are amongst the best Christmas turkey producers and take great pride in meeting and satisfying their customer needs. As a poult supplier it is an honour having such customers knowing full well their turkeys will be reared to an exceptionally high welfare standard.”
For those interested in becoming an accredited Golden Turkey farmer, or an approved stockist, please contact Kim Everett, Company Secretary; firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our social media pages on twitter, facebook and instagram – links can be found at www.goldenturkeys.co.uk
Further Hatchery information can be found at: