REARING traditional turkeys is providing an extra learning activity for students at the College of West Anglia as well as giving consumers in the Cambridge area a new supply of premium birds.
Agriculture director Jason Ambrose felt the turkeys would fit in well with the seasonal routine at the college’s 140-acre Cambridge Campus Woodlands Farm which grows arable crops and has a pig enterprise that produces rare breed pork.
Mr Ambrose chose to produce KellyBronze turkeys — using the breed responsible for bringing back the traditional bronze-feathered turkey that was eclipsed by the modern white birds for several decades.
“Our 150 turkeys have proved ideal for the students,” says Mr Ambrose.
“They are very inquisitive and come to you which makes it easy for the students to handle them.”
This is benefiting not only the 45 agricultural students, who come from all over the area including Fenland, but also over a 100 otheres on the animal care courses.
The emphasis was then on marketing the turkeys — and this provided a new opportunity too for the agricultural students.
“One of their first tasks during induction week was to build a giant straw bale turkey that is now seen by thousands of motorists on the A10 every day,” he says.
“Although today and tomorrow (December 23 and 24) when consumers will be collecting their turkeys from the farm is during the Christmas holiday, a number of the students are keen to come back to help so they’ll be involved all the way through,” he adds. The College of West Anglia is one of the growing number of KellyBronze Farmers producing the award-winning product under a franchise scheme which allows farmers and smallholders to develop local markets with the support of Kelly Turkeys.
The turkeys are bred for the wild, range on pasture or in woodland, are fed locally grown grain and reared to maturity to achieve the succulent flavour and texture associated with the product.