From moor to Christmas table

At this time of year Christine and Mike Malseed can be seen herding their turkeys down the lanes near their farm with the help of their two dogs Jack and Wilf.

At the same time, after a two-day coach journey from Poland via London, the seven Polish workers have arrived at Frenchbeer Farm to help pluck 3,800 turkeys bred for Christmas.

Christmas time is the busiest time of year for Mike and Christine, who have worked the farm near Chagford, part of the Duchy Estate, for the last 32 years.

They produce some of the finest turkeys in the country which are sold to gourmet suppliers such as Riverford Organics. Each turkey is humanely dispatched by a licenced dispatcher. Plucking is a tricky business, but with experience some can pluck 50 turkeys in a day. Each turkey is then weighed by Dan Waterman and stored on racks by weight. Over half of the Frenchbeer turkeys bred are organic.

The day-old bronze turkey chicks arrive at the end of June are slow grown for six months for a better flavour. In the beginning while Mike and Christine were building the sheep flock and beef herd, they produced a few Christmas turkeys to help the cash flow and this proved so popular it has become an important part of the family business.

Visit their website for instructions on how to cook one of their turkeys www.frenchbeerfarm.co.uk

Stuart Clarke

Author: Stuart Clarke

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