Our turkeys are old fashioned breeds, produced the old fashioned way! Slow growing and allowed to grow to full maturity, fed on a natural, cereal based diet without the need for antibiotics or artificial growth promoters.
The turkeys arrive on farm as day old chicks from a local hatchery, the only transport of their lives! They are housed in specialist "brooding" sheds for the first 5 weeks where they are kept at 30 degrees to start with as they have no feathers to keep them warm.
As the feathers grow and they start to "harden" the heat is reduced until they are ready at around 5 weeks old to be moved into the Pole barns.
Turkeys are naturally inquisitive and love to explore their surroundings, making the most of fallen apples in the orchard and playing in dust baths they create under the old oak tree - so similar to that of their wild cousins of the North American forests!
At night they are tucked up in the safety of spacious Pole barns, on deep straw beds, away from the elements and our friend Mr Fox.
As Christmas approaches, the turkeys have a short walk of no more than 100 metres to our hygiene inspected, on site, processing facility. Compare this to supermarket turkeys which are loaded onto lorries and transported through the night to massive factories.
We believe that keeping our turkeys calm contributes to the flavour and tenderness that Cottage Farm Turkeys are renowned for!
Our turkeys are dry plucked and game hung in a temperature controlled chiller for ten days to let the meat mature. After hanging, they are eviscerated, with the giblets packed separately for making the best gravy. Each bird is then trussed and weighed before being wrapped in grease proof paper and placed in individual boxes with a pop up timer, cooking instructions and recipe ideas for leftovers!
We attend the Anglian Turkey Association's annual show in Stoke-by-Nayland — a unique event in the turkey world where birds are still displayed in the way they were traditionally hung outside butchery shops.
There were once such events in regions around the UK - with turkeys 'show plucked' to leave their neck feathers intact. The ATA show is the last one surviving and continues to flourish with support from many of its 150 members, including Cottage Farm.
Phil Baxter, our founder, was a schoolteacher in Halstead, Kent with a passion for being entirely self-sufficient.
In 1976 whilst pursuing the "good life" he decided to rear a turkey for his Christmas dinner. He purchased three eggs which he lovingly nurtured in his bedroom! Having proved a great success, in 1977 he reared a further 20 birds for the enjoyment of family and friends.
1978 saw the birth of Cottage Farm Turkeys which has since become a highly successful business, dealing in Day Old chicks through to Growers which Phil's son Jody now supplies to farmers countrywide in addition to rearing our own turkeys for sale exclusively through our Butchery at Polhill Garden Centre.