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Expensive feed pushes UK turkey production costs up

Turkey production costs are set to be nearly 5% higher in the UK this year due to a more expensive feed and a jump in pluck and EV costs.

Figures released by the National Farmers’ Union’s chief poultry adviser Aimee Mahony at the union’s annual turkey marketing meeting show that costings, based on a 5.5 kg turkey will be £37.12 compared with £35.38 in 2019. Mahony said feed costs at £11.54 were 10% higher than last year (£10.49), based on prices quoted for delivery in August. Pluck and EV costs were both up 6.2% at £2.84 and £2.97 respectively. The latter is adjusted largely based on the labour it requires to perform such procedures and is linked to the National Living Wage increases.


  • Feed costs at £11.54 were 10% higher than last year (£10.49), based on prices quoted for delivery in August. Photo: Jan Willem Schouten

    Feed costs at £11.54 were 10% higher than last year (£10.49), based on prices quoted for delivery in August. Photo: Jan Willem Schouten

Global wheat stocks at 9 year high

Will Foote, ForFarmers UK raw materials manager, gave an overview of global wheat stocks. He said that we are currently seeing a 9 year high so at a top level it looks well supplied. However, this year there had been a shift in balance with more wheat harvested in the southern hemisphere. Closer to home, Foote said the UK is likely to produce just 10 million tonnes this year compared to 16 million in 2019’s bumper harvest.

Turkey meat easier to produce than sell

Paul Kelly, managing director of Kelly Turkeys, talked about the importance of getting the early days of rearing poults right in order to establish a good flock. Where possible, his preference, he said, was to reduce the temperature by 1°C a day from a starting temperature of 35°C. This usually takes around 3 weeks which is the point where the birds come off the heat. Speaking about his business, Mr Kelly told the 100 farmers attending the virtual meeting: “Generally, the farming and production side of the business is relatively easy compared to the selling. To sell enough birds at the right price we work really hard at marketing our products.”

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Farm gate sales

Farm gate sales are a big part of Christmas trade for the business with 1,900 birds being sold from the farm gate. Clear signage and a good presence online were crucial, he added. “90% of all orders are made through the website so without it I don’t know where we would be. We have invested a lot of time and money in it and it’s an area where we can tell the customer a story and sell our products,” Kelly added. The NFU-led #buymyturkey campaign will launch at the beginning of December. Now in its 4th year, the campaign aims to raise the profile of turkey producers, encouraging consumers to back British farming and choose local where they can find their nearest turkey farmer.