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Chapter One

A Christmas Carol

What ensures your Christmas Turkey is going to be fabulous

What difference does the choice of Chick breed make?

This can be quite complex as breeders often cross breed pure strains to obtain a certain specification of bird

Generally the reasons being:
- Grown for more white or brown meat i.e. plumper Breasts or larger Thighs and Legs
- Speed of growth which is critical to taste and costs

Choosing a Poult

There are many different strains of Poult

Each strain is bred for a reason-be it fast growing, greater white to brown meat ratios, slower maturing for a superior eating experience-and many more possible attributes

A Poult can cost anywhere between £1.50 to £2 for a utilitarian strain but up to £4 for a Premium Quality chick - and generally you get what you pays for.

Quality Poults will have impeccable provenance and pedigree

A traditional well bred proven strain Poult will be in the £4 category and tend to be bought by artisan farmers who rear quality small flocks rather than the supermarkets hundreds of thousands of Poult flocks

Utilitarian Poults
The utilitarian Poult will generally be a bigger breed where the Hen should reach maturity at 10-15 kg after about 22 weeks -but is slaughtered before maturity at about 12-14 weeks

Whilst this cuts down on the cost of feed, accommodation, bedding, power and husbandry costs it comes at the price of texture, taste and sometimes the welfare of the bird.

When a Turkey is slaughtered prematurely the muscles have not had the opportunity to mature. The bird becomes even less value for money as the ratio of bone weight to meat weight is greater - as bone has to grow first, before the muscles develop-so you lose out on taste, texture and value at the same time.

Timing is also a major issue in rearing Turkeys, so they are in perfect oven ready condition for the big day. Different breeds create different weights at full maturation. Artisan farmers will be careful to select breeds by the differing weights required at full maturation so they coincide perfectly with Christmas day.

They will develop and remain with these breeds year in year out so that they ensure the same quality of eating experience at whatever fully matured weight you require

End of Chapter One
Watch out for the next Chapter being published soon! Next week we will be looking at rearing the Poults and the importance of Environment and Diet.


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