With the economic climate affecting consumer buying, producers of traditional Christmas turkeys should ensure they’re not caught out by likely demand for smaller birds, according to Paul Kelly, MD of turkey poult suppliers Farmgate Hatcheries.
“Last year there was a shortage of turkeys in the 4 kg weight range – we saw that for ourselves as we’re also at the sharp end of the retail business. There’s every indication that there will be another shortage, maybe a bigger one, of the popular smaller sizes,” says Kelly.
“Our experience from the recession in the early 1990s suggests that top quality turkeys from the farmgate and from the butcher do not suffer a drop in sales, but it is important to provide what consumers want,” he added.
“So in ordering poults for placement this summer, we recommend that producers make sure they will have enough of the smaller strains to provide the right spread of weights for their customers. Our range of specially selected breeds will achieve weights from 3-10 kg at ages from 10-26 weeks with, we believe, superior carcase quality.”
Farmgate Hatcheries are continuing to develop the breeding of smaller strains of both bronze and white turkeys, and will be assessing further test crosses this year. In 2008, Kelly Turkeys test marketed the Demi KellyBronze – a 5 kg turkey split into two to provide a 2.5–3.0 kg joint. “It has all the eating quality of a whole turkey on the bone, but caters for the small family,” adds Kelly.