Diss Young Farmers start their own turkey business

A competition to encourage young farmers to rear turkeys for Christmas has spawned one new business.

Two enthusiasts have launched Banyards Hall Norfolk Black Turkeys, which is based in Bunwell, near Attleborough. And they have increased numbers from an initial four to many more.

Two years ago, Annelise Ford, was one of a dozen enthusiasts to take up the Norfolk YFC Turkey Gobble Challenge, which involved rearing two birds for the Christmas trade.

And while producing a perfect Christmas turkey was part of the challenge, the aspiring poultry farmers, who are members of Diss Young Farmers, also had to produce a practical business plan as part of the project funded by Landskills East. Farmer James Graham, of Thuxton, near Dereham, who supplied the half-grown Norfolk Black turkeys, assessed the entries.

It sparked Annelise’s interest in turkey rearing, which has turned into a small business with her partner, Miles Easton.


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As keen YFC members, they have taken advantage of funding by Landskills East to undertake training at Poultec at Mattishall. They’ve now completed a poultry butchery course and a poultry welfare course.

And to their delight, they have managed to sell all the birds ahead of Christmas.

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“We’ve sold all the ones we’ve finished this year and we’re hoping to get some more from James Graham next year,” said Annelise.

“We have to rear two for the competition but I bought another two, so I reared four.

“Last year, I had 30 and this year we were under the 50-bird restriction. But, when we get over 50, we have to become Defra registered.

“We struggled because we had to learn the techniques of plucking and gutting the birds but we’ve done the courses through Landskills.

“Last year we had to send the birds away to be killed, plucked and gutted. This year, we’ve been able to do it ourselves because of the training we’ve received,” she added.

“We get them from James Graham because I know that the birds he produces are really healthy.

“We’ve produced a leaflet all about the turkeys and how they’re reared. We’ve sold the whole lot. We’re very pleased.”

A fellow member of Diss YFC, James Tilley, who is hoping to study veterinary medicine next September, is also giving them a hand.

As finalists in the Norfolk Farmers’ Trust’s Chris Lewis Award, Annelise also won the Wayland Show’s Young Achievers Award.

Landskills East has been set up to provide rural businesses with improved access to skills and training courses across the East of England. Landskills is funded under the Rural Development Programme for England, with the aim to provide the skills that will be required by the regions land-based and rural business sectors in the twenty first century.

Christmas fowl sales begin at markets across region

*This evening at Norwich livestock market, a sale of Christmas turkeys, geese and other fowl will be held.

Following a successful inaugural Christmas Poultry sale last year, the directors have decided to hold a second sale in the sale ring at Hall Road from 6.30pm prompt.

There will be at least 300 turkey, chicken and geese sold by auction, some will be oven ready.

“This is an excellent opportunity to purchase local fresh poultry and, even if you have already bought your Christmas meat, if you could buy poultry to put in your freezer,” said director, David Ball. He can be contacted on 01603 502690.

Then on Wednesday, Mr Eagle has a similar entry at Eldon Farm, Holywell, near Mildenhall, when the sale starts at 10.30am.

Auctioneers Key’s of Aylsham has its annual Christmas sale on Wednesday, starting at 11am. It is taking entries of rough plucked turkeys, geese, chickens and ducks. Birds, once registered for sale, can be delivered from 7.30am, with viewing from 9am.

A total of 320 oven-ready and rough-plucked turkeys, ducks, geese and chickens – all sourced from local farmers will sold at TW Gaze’s annual poultry show and sale on Thursday at the Diss sale room from 5pm.

With the increasing appeal of different breeds of turkey, Rachael Hipperson said that local farmers have also reared other breeds.

These include the Bourbon Red, which originated in Kentucky, America in the 1800s, and is thought to be more richly flavoured.

The Narrangansett, which was originally domesticated by the Native Americans, has a slightly stronger flavour than the Bronze and is regarded as meatier than the Norfolk Black. The traditional turkeys including white, Norfolk Black and the Bronze, are also available. Viewing starts at 4pm and the sale at 5pm prompt. For more information please call 01379 651931.

Potential bidders need to register before the sale to obtain a sale number, then just bid and get the bird of your choice, she said.

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