Kent producer repeats success at traditional ATA turkey show

Tom Copas (left) presents the championship trophy to Andy Spencer of Cottage Farm, with Anglian Turk

Tom Copas (left) presents the championship trophy to Andy Spencer of Cottage Farm, with Anglian Turkey Association (ATA) show organiser James Marriage on the right. - Credit: Archant

A Kentish turkey farmer took top honours for the second year running at the Anglian Turkey Association’s (ATA) annual show at Stoke-by-Nayland, a rare survivor of the once-flourishing regional traditional turkey shows.

Anglian Turkey Association (ATA) president Derek Kelly (right) presents the Goodchild trophy to Norf

Anglian Turkey Association (ATA) president Derek Kelly (right) presents the Goodchild trophy to Norfolk veterinary practitioner Stephen Lister. - Credit: Archant

The ATA event, which attracts entries from across East Anglia and the South East, retains all the traditions with turkeys “show plucked” in the way they once hung outside butchers’ shops and then roast turkeys piped into the dining hall in the way that haggis is ceremonially introduced at Burns Night suppers.

Cottage Farm Turkeys, based at Cudham, near Sevenoaks, won the championship with the winner of the over 8kg hen class, and also collected trophies for the best brace of white turkeys, oven-ready under 11kg and butcher’s retail presentation.

The family business, founded by former teacher Phil Baxter, rears turkeys around the year including 3,000 for Christmas and combines farming with a substantial butchery business at Polhill Garden Centre, Badgers Mount, Sevenoaks, which also supplies meat to more than 400 caterers, restaurants, pubs and schools.

The entries were judged by Tom Copas, one of the leading producers of traditional turkeys. He awarded other trophies to F W Weeks, of Laylands Farm, Downham, Essex, (stag under 11kg and hen under 5.5kg), Phil Hunter of Yew Tree Farm, Fressingfield, (hen 5.5 to 8 kg), and Ian Wylie, of Carlton, Newmarket (brace of bronze turkeys).

“Once again, the standard of the birds was excellent and a champion hard to find,” said show organiser James Marriage, director of W & H Marriage & Sons. “The ATA is grateful for the support shown by the region’s turkey farmers, particularly at this busy time of the year for them.”

In addition the Goodchild trophy — named after a Smithfield wholesaler from the 1960s and 1970s — was presented to Stephen Lister, a partner in Crowshall Veterinary Services at Attleborough.

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ATA president Derek Kelly praised Mr Lister’s “valued” services over more than 35 years to the traditional farm fresh turkey sector and the backyard poultry keeper as well as the wider poultry industry.

A past president of the Turkey Club of Great Britain, Stephen Lister is one of the founders of the Crowshall specialist poultry practice and is currently chairman of the organising committee of the Egg & Poultry Industry Conference and UK secretary for the World Poultry Science Association.