Some of us might be enjoying a slightly smaller Christmas this year, but that doesn’t mean scrimping on taste and quality when it comes to your festive bird.
You just can’t beat a British turkey at Christmas and by sourcing your turkey locally, you’ll be getting a high quality bird that has been raised to world-leading standards, all while cutting your own food miles and supporting the local economy.
So what makes British turkeys the best in the world?
We asked eight producers to tell us what they do and why we should all be buying British and local again this year.
Judith Dryden, Dryden Farms, Seaham, County Durham
“Our family’s Christmas poultry business has grown steadily over the years, with us producing both turkeys and geese. Our focus is very much on quality and the family take exceptional care of every aspect of our birds’ lives.
“Quality and service are the reasons our customers give for coming back year after year, and that’s what we and other British turkey producers pride ourselves on.”
Tom Rees, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan
“As a third-generation turkey producer, it’s something of a family tradition. We believe quality is the key from start to finish. Particular attention is paid to the birds’ health and welfare throughout the whole season.
"We sell from the farm-gate and are fortunate to have the support and repeat custom of local people who recognise the importance of eating locally-sourced produce with low food miles.
"Traceability also gives customer’s peace of mind that their turkey has been produced to the highest food welfare standards via sustainable farming practices.”
Ross Gardner, Otter Valley Poultry, Devon
"We have been rearing and selling fresh farm turkeys for more than 50 years, specialising in organic and free-range using traditional slow-growing breeds such as Kelly Bronze, blacks and whites.
"They are reared from day-old chicks for more than 21 weeks, fed corn-based diets and allowed to roam the pastures to see what else is available, housed in open barns and tunnels with enriched environments to encourage natural behaviour.
“Supporting your local turkey farmer has never been more important. Buying locally comes with the knowledge that the turkeys have been reared to the highest welfare standards, loved and cared for, processed humanely and are 100% British."
John Hunt, Watergate Farm, Bedfordshire
“At Watergate Farm in Bedfordshire we are extremely proud to grow the most flavoursome, high-welfare birds you could imagine – reared slowly and extensively in rich outdoor environments, whilst being fed and bed on home-grown cereals and straw.
“I can’t think of anything else I would rather be sharing with my family this Christmas-time!”
Clive Wreathall, Appledore Turkeys, Kent
“This is a family business run by my brother, Andrew, and myself.
"The turkeys look fantastic this year. It’s just a joy to see them when they are out free-ranging. We are optimistic that our customers will continue to support us and will continue to want to know where their food has come from. We are pleased we are open to showing people what we are doing, where we are doing it, and how we are doing it.”
Paul Kelly, Kelly Turkeys, Springate Farm, Essex
“As a nation, we produce turkeys to the highest standards of welfare and food safety. Nowhere else in the world works to the level of welfare and standards as the UK does. British turkey farmers are able to produce turkeys to suit all pockets – from a standard fresh white turkey to a free-range, slow-growing bronze.
"A whole British Christmas turkey is a tradition to behold, and I urge everyone to support their local farmers wherever possible.”
Bill Homewood, Peach Croft Poultry, Oxfordshire
“We rear approximately 7,000 bronze feathered turkeys for Christmas, predominantly free range, as well as free range geese.
"Our free-range birds have access to grassy paddocks from six weeks of age. We feed the best rations we can source, comprising up to 70% home-grown cereals.
“We still dry pluck, which allows us to hang the poultry to mature for up to 10 days. We have total control over our production, and are independently inspected on a regular basis. We produce to a quality, not a price point.”
Alex Bridger, Ashford Farm, Hampshire
“At Ashford Farm we’re very much a family enterprise raising free-range turkeys and geese for our local customers.
"Our turkeys are slow-growing traditional breeds and they come in as day-old chicks and, once feathered up, they have daily access to our fields below the beautiful Ashford Hangers.
"You will find them pecking the grass, perching on the fence line and having dust baths in our wood shavings pile!
“This year we’re doing things a little differently as we’ll be offering a drive-through collection to help with social-distancing."