Livestock farmers to consider turkeys

Pictured in the lambing shed used by the Bells to grow seasonal turkeys are David Mark, Moy Park Agricultural Projects' Manager, Hilary Bell, Roger Bell and Ally Dobbin, Moy Park Turkey Commercial Manager.
Pictured in the lambing shed used by the Bells to grow seasonal turkeys are David Mark, Moy Park Agricultural Projects' Manager, Hilary Bell, Roger Bell and Ally Dobbin, Moy Park Turkey Commercial Manager.
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A novel idea by poultry producer, Moy Park, could enable it to boost production in the run-up to Christmas, and create a second income stream for local livestock farmers with spare shed capacity... by rearing turkeys.

Moy Park has developed this innovative way of creating additional short term production capacity in response to a growing market for turkey which consumers recognise as a healthy and versatile protein.

Announcing the initiative, Moy Park’s Agricultural Projects’ Manager, David Mark, said: “A lot of farmers, particularly sheep farmers, require sheds for intense, busy periods such as lambing, but have relatively little subsequent productive use for them when that work is completed. Turkeys can be reared in these good quality farm sheds between September and December, when these sheds would otherwise be unused.”

He continued: “This system works particularly well as the turkeys are reared and off the farm weeks before the shed is needed again for lambing and farmers who are good at producing a crop of lambs can easily turn their stockmanship skills to producing a crop of turkeys.”

Hilary and Roger Bell have put this into practice at their farm outside Ballymena. They have been using their purpose-built lambing shed to grow turkeys in the run up to Christmas for seven years.

Hilary Bell said: “When we built the lambing shed we wanted to get as much return on the investment as possible so adapting the design to house turkeys was the perfect solution. The turkeys are not too difficult to look after and they generate a source of income from a space that would otherwise be sitting empty.”

Farmers planning to build new sheds can have specifications for turkeys incorporated at the design and build stage or existing sheds can be easily modified. To be suitable sheds should typically be approximately 150ft X 35ft (around 5000sq ft.) in size with a solid concrete floor, good road access and with two- three acres of grassland alongside.

Moy Park’s David Mark concluded: “Some investment would be required in feeders, drinkers and other equipment. Moy Park would supply inputs such as day-old birds and feed, as well as providing expert advice and support throughout the set up process and offer a competitive finance package.”

Farmers interested in growing top quality seasonal turkeys to high welfare standards should contact Moy Park on 07825647140 or email david.mark@moypark.com ideally by the end of April.