At Pipers Farm we have been making magical Christmas’ happen for over thirty years. For many of us a properly reared turkey is ubiquitously associated with Christmas and so over the years we have learnt a thing or two about how to produce a fabulous festive bird.
From our very early days when we used to rear a humble flock of just 10 Bronze Turkeys, grown amongst our ancient cider orchards at Pipers Farm HQ, and killed, plucked and delivered by hand to a small, yet dedicated number of customers. To today where we rear over 3,000 Properly Free Range Bronze Turkeys for Christmas.
Nothing about the way in which we rear our birds has changed, this is because we have sought out the very best small-scale family farmers to rear our birds with the same ethics and values as we laid out right at the very start of Pipers Farm and are still just as important today.
Instead of ‘scaling up’ by rearing more and more birds on bigger and bigger scale, industrialising the process, like so many Turkeys you find on the market at Christmas time, the flocks we rear are spread across four wonderful, small-scale family farms, who each grow small groups of our chosen breed of Free Range Bronze Turkeys. They eat a carefully planned, natural diet that is grown in harmony with nature and suited to the farm where they are reared, sourcing as much of the feed from the landscape as possible (apple orchards, fields of fodder beet, kale crops and diverse grassy pastures). They are slowly reared to maturity and killed on the farm on which they have grown. Our recipe for rearing some of the very finest Turkey in the country has been carefully considered over many years to provide an incredible bird, that you know has truly had the best life possible. As many of you have commented year after year, you can truly taste the love and care that goes into rearing a Pipers Farm Christmas Turkey.
Christine and John are farmers on a second-generation Dartmoor hill farm who have been raising truly free-range turkeys for us, for 10 of our 30 years.
This family farm is an exciting mix of steady, experience provided by John’s Mum Christine, coupled with dynamic enterprise and new ideas contributed by John. Last year John decided to sow wildflower meadows and legume rich cover crop pastures for the Turkeys, to improve their diet and provide the birds with an even more spectacular environment in which to live and grow.
“We initially started doing Christmas turkeys to aid with cash flow, but they are now a major part of the family business. Besides it just wouldn't be Christmas without the mad rush in December!” John jokes.
On this very special Dartmoor farm the journey of our turkeys begins in late spring when the chicks hatch and live in a brooder for around three weeks to allow them time to grow the feathers needed to protect them outside. At this point, they move to their grassy hillside home where they live as ‘properly’ free-range birds – roaming the fields in which they live, pecking through the pasture for insects and bugs.
“Free Range to me isn't so many square metres per bird in the pasture, but the sight of turkeys appearing from the fields, running and flapping back for feeding time,” John points out.
Their diet is made up of only good, natural food; grasses, nettles, kales and simple cereal. The birds are slowly grown, running around on the picturesque Dartmoor hillside until they have reached maturity.
“Our birds are 28 weeks old, which means they have reached full maturity and put on a natural finish of fat,” John explains.
When they reach the end of their lives, the Turkeys are killed by hand on the farm, then dry plucked, then hung for at least two weeks to develop the wonderful tenderness and depth of flavour that only one of our free-range heritage bird can offer.
“Peter and the team at Pipers Farm understand what it takes to produce a quality Turkey and they appreciate the extra effort involved in free range, slow grown, game hung turkeys, supporting us to rear the very best bird we can” John finishes.
When you order a Pipers Farm Turkey at Christmas time, you are directly supporting small-scale, nature friendly farming. Each of our Turkey farms are wonderfully nuanced, creating truly special artisan produce.
We passionately believe in better farming, with a 360° respect for the environment, farmer, animals and you, the customer.