Small farms generally fare better, such as Peach Croft Farm in Oxfordshire, which produces 7,000 turkeys a year compared to Kelly’s 35,000 KellyBronze (18,000 of which, and all the birds sold direct to customers, are reared in wood). Peach Croft also grows vegetables and can therefore provide year-round employment for its local workforce. “We’re very lucky in that regard,” third-generation turkey farmer Bill Homewood tells me over the phone. He is much more phlegmatic. “I don’t see the slaughter happening. This is the road to ruin,” he adds, pointing out that birds are killed on the farm, unlike pigs which will mainly have to go to a slaughterhouse. “These things have a way of resolving themselves.”
He is right. Don’t panic, there will be enough turkeys in stores this Christmas. They just won’t all be British turkeys. Supermarkets are running out of around half a million turkeys out of the 9 million we usually eat, so rather than let their customers down, they’ll import them from France and Poland, where, Kelly says, “the same people will pack them. , but for lower wages, so we won’t be able to compete on price.” This is a repeat of the fruit situation, when some of our fields went unpicked, forcing retailers to s to supply abroad, mainly in Spain.
Nevertheless, the nation is taking no chances at its Christmas dinner. According to Iceland, the supermarket is moving four times as many of its frozen turkeys as it did at the same time last year, while M&S Christmas food sales have increased by 400% and 25,000 of its turkeys are already stored in home freezers across the country.
There will also be big birds in there, as we prepare for a big family celebration. Last Christmas, with limited numbers, demand was for small turkeys, prompting farmers to cull their young, as for most standard white-feathered birds age determines size. In heritage turkeys this may be more breed related – Kelly has deliberately selected her birds from a range of breeding lines with 11 sizes ranging from the small ‘Tiny’ to the ‘Roly Poly’ to the magnificent large ‘Plumpy Plus “.
Here’s the struggle between profit and plate, what the cook can afford and the bottom line the farmer has. At around 18-19 weeks, the size of turkeys plateaus, so this is the most profitable time for breeders to slaughter, because after that any extra feed will not result in extra weight. But growing them for another month or more allows the bones to get stronger (meaning better sauce and broth), the flavor to develop, and the fat under the skin to build up (resulting in a ” crackling » ultra crispy).
So if you want a British bird this year, order it now. So swallow, swallow, swallow it.
Where to buy your Christmas turkey
From £85.16 for a 4kg woodland reared free range bird (kellybronze.co.uk; 01245 223581)
Copas has sold its organically raised Bronze turkeys in the past, but free-range Bronze turkeys (which roam the farm’s Berkshire cherry orchards) are still available. Free range turkeys are raised for up to seven months before being dry plucked and hung for two weeks. From £77 for a 4kg bird (copasturkeys.co.uk; 01628 499980)
Award-winning London butcher, Parson’s Nose offers nationwide delivery on its range of fine British farmed meats and treats. Everything is perfect for Christmas, everything can be pre-ordered – with the option to request delivery closer to Christmas or collection from one of three stores in South Kensington, Fulham and Putney. There’s also a Paron Christmas box, containing everything you need – from turkey to vegetables and, of course, all your favorite Christmas seasonings and sauces. Available to feed groups of four, six or eight people. From £90 for a 4-5kg turkey. (parsonsnose.co.uk; 0207 7364492, Fulham Butchers)
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This notice was published: 2021-10-27 08:14:55