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Poultry farming

 
Shabden Park Farm turkeys come to us at six weeks old in June and are reared, free range, on grass pasture in time for Christmas.

We order our turkey poults to a selection of breeds and strains to acheive a variety of sizes, catering for everyone's Christmas. Stag birds become much bigger than hen birds. We rear both white and bronze birds.

The turkey poults are fed a specially formulated non-GM cereals rearer and housed on clean straw bedding. At around ten weeks old, when the weather is fine, the turkeys are put outside onto grass pasture during the day. The birds are always brought back into the shed for the night to roost, free from draughts. We put perches in the building to enable them to roost off the ground, a natural instinct which makes them feel safe.

Bronze turkey poults
Approximately six to eight weeks before Christmas, as the weather becomes colder, the birds are housed during the day and night, and we change the feed to a specially formulated non-GM cereal-based fattening ration. This enables the birds to put all their efforts into fattening rather than trying to keep warm.

Farmer Mark hand-plucks all our turkeys on the farm and they are dressed and trussed by Kirstie.
Farmer Mark with his free range bronze turkeys in Surrey
Our traditional breed geese are bought as day-old goslings in May and are naturally reared for the Christmas dinners of our farm shop customers.
The goslings are kept indoors under a heat lamp for the first few weeks, although after the first week or so we start to take them out into the garden for a couple of hours per day, when the weather is warm. During the night they huddle together under the lamps to keep themselves warm.
The goslings are fed non-GM chick crumbs, and like our other animals, have unrestricted access to clean drinking water.
Small goslings like these are easy prey for foxes so they are kept in a high-sided pen and supervised when they are taken out.

Three day old chicks under heat lamps

When the goslings are very small, we use an old sandpit for them to splash around in. The water helps them to preen their feathers, especially as they begin to shed their yellow down and grow white feathers. The goslings start to show patches of white and grey at around two to three weeks old.
At around six weeks old, we let the goslings have daytime access to pasture. They have an area of around half an acre fenced with electric to deter predators, and a bigger bath tub! Every evening they are brought back into the safety and warmth of the shed.
We finish feeding chick crumbs at around ten weeks when they are nearly full grown and have become white. They graze the pasture during the day and receive a small amount of non-GM cereal-based ration in the evening when they come indoors. Using this method, the geese mature slowly and traditionally on natural pasture.

The first bath!

As Christmas approaches, we start feeding ad-lib a non-GM poultry finishing feed containing protein and fibre from wheat, barley or maize, omega 3 oils from soya or linseed, and vitamins and minerals; all of which are again derived from the natural raw materials. This gives the geese plenty of food during the autumn and winter months, when short, succulent grass is not available, and ensures that they have enough energy in their ration to keep growing and putting on weight right up until Christmas.
As the weather gets colder, we keep the geese indoors on straw bedding so that they put all their efforts into achieving a good size and weight, and not just keeping warm.
Mark hand-plucks all our geese on the farm to minimise stress and the birds are dressed by our butchers in the farm shop to keep them at their freshest.
Fully grown geese have the run of the farm!


Links
British Goose Producers Association   Recipes, cooking tips and information
Garin Harvester feeds   Our livestock feed company with information on manufacture and ingredients
The Poultry Site   News and info for the poultry industry
British Poultry Council   Facts, news and information for producers and consumers
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