It may seem early to be thinking about Christmas already but it is around now that Norfolk Bronze and Norfolk Black turkey farmers begin thinking ahead to the festive season. Slow growing turkey chicks are received by growers around mid-June, and given 25 weeks to grow and develop, and 10 days for the meat to mature in time for Christmas.
If you are looking for a guilt-free feast this Christmas ensure you choose a free range turkey which has been given space to grow and develop. The Farm Animal Welfare Council recommend that farmers give adult birds weighing around 20kg just 891cm2 of space allowance; despite the fact that turkeys of this weight need 1700cm2 to stand without touching another bird. Many commercial turkeys are intensively reared in confined conditions, with unnatural lighting and no access to range. These are then supplied to major supermarkets who can take advantage of the profits they receive from buying cheaply produced birds. The turkeys are given little space to move, which has a major impact on their ability to feed, drink or dust-bathe, causing frustration in the birds and feather pecking.
Ensure that you are not contributing to wide-scale intensive turkey rearing by choosing to buy meat from pastured birds. Fortunately, some turkey farmers put bird welfare before profit, creating meat which is flavoursome, juicy and delicious.
Look for free range Norfolk Bronze and Norfolk Black turkeys which are taken from slow-growing strains, where the birds are given 24 hour access to a large area to range as soon as they are old enough. They should be housed in mobile sheds with clean straw and plenty of space to move, and be given a traditional growing period of 25 weeks, rather than the 16 weeks given to intensively produced birds. Norfolk Bronze and Norfolk Black turkeys should also be fed on rations containing a high percentage of cereals and no growth promoters or additives, encouraging the birds to grow gradually and at a healthy rate. Turkey owners in Norfolk use traditional methods which have been passed down through generations to rear Norfolk Black turkeys, with the meat being allowed to mature for a minimum of 10 days in cold storage for a traditional taste. Choose a farm which has been awarded a Totally Traditional Turkey by the Traditional Farmfresh Turkey Association for a really authentic meal.
Do not buy your turkey from a leading supermarket. Look for a Norfolk farm which lovingly rears only a small number of birds at a time and order direct from them. Norfolk Bronze and Norfolk Black turkeys are popular breeds and will be an extremely delicious addition to any table this Christmas. The best way to make your meal even more delicious is to be safe in the knowledge that your turkey was raised happily and healthily.
Mortons Traditional Taste specialise in free range turkeys, with Norfolk Bronze and Norfolk Black birds available to order online for Christmas. Their birds are slowly grown in sheds with clean straw and 24 access to range and are not fed any hormones or growth promoters.