New advice on choosing the right breed of Christmas turkey

With feed and environment having a significant impact on growth rates of Christmas turkeys, FarmGate Hatcheries have amended their specifications for the nine breeds they are offering poult customers this year.

The amount of space provided for turkeys has the greatest single impact on growth apart from nutrition, says Paul Kelly, managing director of the Danbury-based supplier of poults. Together they can have up to a 20 percent influence on final weights. 

Target weights for their breeds have been based on stocking densities of 25 kg liveweight / sq metre.  “This does not reflect the typical management system for turkey growers having poults in May through to July,” he said.

“We have amended our price list weight specifications to reflect this.  But if your choice of breeds and hatch weeks has on average over the past three years been about right, then don’t change them. We have changed the target weights – but not the breed – as the genetics are exactly the same.”

The pedigree selections on their seven breeding farms throughout the UK take place once maturity has been reached – the point at which carcase shape and eating qualities are at their best. 

Poult prices are increased by 3.8% to cover higher feed costs and particularly wage inflation for seasonal workers affected by both the national living wage and devaluation of sterling.

The nine breeds available range from the Tiny which provides oven-ready weights of 3 – 4 kg for females and 6 kg for males to the Broad Breasted Bronze (BBB) attaining up to 12 kg for females and 20 kg for males. Poults are available from mid May to mid September.

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