The care and attention to detail of our turkeys is very thing when in comes to flavour. At John Howe Turkeys, good or okay just won't do, it's only excellence that we look for in our turkeys and this is evident in the taste.
Wild Turkeys are native to huge expanses of North American Forrest. We firmly believe that the only way to produce a good quality Christmas Turkey is to ensure that the natural habitat enjoyed by their wild cousins is replicated as much as possible for the birds on our farm. To that end all of our Turkeys are free, from the age of 8 weeks, to roam the grassy fields and meadows. This is critical to ensuring that our birds lead a natural and happy lifestyle.
Turkeys love to explore their surroundings, playing in dust baths and roosting on straw bales, low branches and fences. At night they take themselves off to bed on the deep straw beds in the barns and field shelters, where they go for warmth and protection, away from the elements and with a constant supply of fresh food and water.
Our Turkeys are slow growing, old fashioned breeds, reared to full maturity. They are fed a natural, cereal based diet, free from antibiotics and growth promoters.
Their feed is a mixture of approximately:
- Soya Bean
- Rape Seed Extract
- Herban Powder
- Natural Herbs
Why Buy From John Howe Turkeys?
Whether you purchase your Christmas Turkey from a farm or a butcher, it is important to ask the following questions:
- Is the turkey genuinely free range?
Often turkeys are advertised as free range, even though they have minimal access to outside space.
White turkeys are typically barn reared, but advertised alongside free range bronze birds, which can be misleading.
- Has the turkey been plucked by hand (Dry Plucked)?
A significant proportion of birds on the market have been wet plucked. This means the entire bird has been dipped in hot water, which contains high bacteria levels.
- Has live transportation been used?
Many large farms rear their birds on more than one Farm which means that even though you are sold the image of a locally produced bird; that is not necessarily the case, as birds have been transported large distances for processing.
- Has the turkey been game hung?
The turkey’s flavour, in part, comes from being game hung for at least two weeks.
- How long was the Turkey reared for?
The best turkeys are picked from a number of different slow growing breeds reared over at least 6 months. Modern techniques use fast growing turkeys fed on an intensive ration. The aim is to produce the finished turkeys the desired weight in the least possible time.
A slow growing, fully matured bird will cook better and taste better
Free Range White Turkey
Our classic, white feathered free range Turkeys were first introduced to the farm by
John Howe in 1976. We have produced them for Christmas ever since and their
popularity continues to grow. The birds are selected from one of about six different
breeds reared on the farm, which allows us to produce a variety of different weights,
without having to compromise on the quality of our farming or the maturity of the
bird. The meat of the white bird is succulent, tasty and great for those who love breast
meat, whilst the generous thighs and wings cater for those at the table who prefer the darker meat.
Free Range Bronze Turkey
The bronze Turkey is more closely related to the wild Turkey in both appearance and
taste. As with our white feathered birds we maintain variety by rearing several
different breeds on the farm. Over the last few years the popularity of the bronze
breeds has risen dramatically, with many people enjoying their richer, gamier taste.
A Little Bit of Turkey History
Don't let the name turkey fool you, the wild turkey is actually a native of the Yucatan Peninsula and North America. The latter being from where our domestic breeds originate. The early European settlers of Canada and the United States mistakenly believed the turkey to be type of Guinea Fowl, know to them as a Turkey Fowl, a name that has carried through to the modern day.
Turkeys have been bred in England for hundreds of years, having arrived from Spain in the sixteenth century. East Anglia was for many years, the centre of Turkey farming, but as their popularity grew, so their rearing became more widespread and the sight of the birds being driven to the London markets became a common spectacle.