Find out about some of the day-to-day events at Heritage Turkeys.


11/08/18 - Hatching Eggs

Sorry to say but there will not be any more hatching eggs from our turkeys this year. We seem to have reached this point much earlier than any other season I can recall, and I think the main issue has been the weather. The hens started well and fertility has been fine, but they just haven't laid as consistently or for as long as in other years. With very few exceptions it would seem this has been a common trend with other turkey keeper we have spoken to. I suspect we will find the occasional egg as we do the rounds but I doubt that any will lay in sufficient numbers to be able to sell hatching again until next year. See full entry

04/07/18 - Ringing Turkeys

It is that time of year when all turkey breeders need to consider ringing their turkeys, and I accept that many keepers have their own strategy for managing and monitoring this within their flock. However, only PCGB rings are permitted on show birds and any other form of identifier, other than wing tags or tattoo, will result in the judge passing the bird. This is an important consideration for those who show but still need to identify their turkey. PCGB rings also give another level of credibility, and particularly so when buying and selling stock. Also, given the issues over recent years it seems only a matter of time before all birds will need to be close rung anyway. So undertaking ringing sooner rather than later seems good practice to me. The PCGB website has all the details. See full entry

15/06/18 - Record Price for Turkey Egg

The Rare Breed Survival Trust runs an 'Ask the Farmer' event at the Royal Three Counties Show and for the last four years we have taken all the recognised varieties and talked turkey to those who come to the tent. As part of the event a 'mock auction' was held in the tent with various items being sold. Immediately prior to the auction event one of our turkeys laid an egg and Jack the auctioneer quickly turned this into a 'live auction' as it was sold off to raise funds. Well after much banter and bidding the still warm turkey egg actually achieved an amazing £20.00. At those prices maybe we should auction more turkey eggs. See full entry


11/06/18 - Malvern Show

To promote the truly traditional varieties of heritage turkey we are taking an examples to the Malvern Show. We will be found in the RBST tent and hope you find time to come along and talk turkey... See full entry

28/05/18 - Keeping Cool

At this time of year we regularly receive calls about the best way to manage turkeys in the hot weather. Hot sunny days can certainly be a problem for poultry, and remember hot sultry nights in the hen house can be equally as difficult. Shade is essential, and during the day your poultry must have somewhere they can get out of the direct sun. Dust baths will certainly help keep your poultry cool, and do add diatomaceous earth as this will deter red mite that thrives in hot weather. Clean, fresh water is an essential provision at any time, but more so in hot weather when they drink more. Frozen 'ice packs' in drinkers will help keep their water cool. Cool fruit such as watermelon is beneficial, and some turkey keepers use frozen sweetcorn or peas. Adequate air flow within the coop itself is essential on hot nights, but be careful not to compromise security when improving ventilation. See full entry

22/04/18 - There is always one...

Every year we have hen who just wants to be alone when it comes to egg laying. No matter what we have put in her pen, and although the other hens are contented, she wants to be alone. The first we know of it is when having laid her egg we hear her call to her chums on the inside as she sits waiting to be let back in. Amusingly she gets out by herself, but has to be let back in. There are two key questions for us, and we have to answer them soon. Where is she getting out, because that's a vulnerability to the whole flock, but we haven't found anything yet. So it is the usual watching and searching game, what fun..... The other issue is just where can she be laying her eggs. She has been undertaking this walkabout for just over a week so she could go broody anytime, and that's typically when they get taken. So again it is a case of watching, waiting and following.. Yup, there is always one… See full entry


31/03/18 - Newquay Zoo - Crollwitzers

Quite a while ago Newquay Zoo approached us to supply traditional turkeys for their Village Farm. This request fitted perfectly the joint project between Heritage Turkeys, RBST, TCUK and PCGB for placing traditional breeding groups in key locations. So after an early start on Saturday we delivered a trio of Crollwitzers at Newquay Zoo, and were delighted to see them settling into their new home as we left. What a great location this is for them with professional keepers and a stream of public passing by to entertain them and for the stag to show off to. Importantly this Crollwitzer trio is in a key location as part of breeding network that enables them to be managed appropriately. The more of these secure locations we can set up the more optimistic we can be regards saving their gene pool as an important resource for future generations. A great day out, and do send us a photo if you go to see the Newquay Zoo turkeys.. See full entry

30/03/18 - Turkeys off to the Circus

Turkeys off to the circus. Yes thats right, and strange though it sounds two of our turkeys have gone off to the circus, and a travelling one at that. It all started when we were asked by Giffords Circus if we had two turkeys that would be suitable for the circus. Well having initially been amused by the concept we thought we had better check it out. Yes, it was a genuine request, Giffords Circus really did want two turkeys for the summer season. So we enquired as to what exactly was expected regards performance, and how was their welfare to be managed. Essentially Giffords Circus just want the stags to 'show off' which is what they do here endlessly anyway, and their welfare requirements whilst on the road is exemplary. As it happened we had a couple of friendly stags that although not to breed standard are inquisitive, friendly, confident and natural show offs. Generally these two stags just wander around our fields displaying to each other, and to anyone else with time... See full entry

06/03/18 - Eggs - High Demand

Please be aware orders are only accepted via our email and must be accompanied by full details of the turkey variety you would like and number of eggs required. We operate a first come first served basis and when you place on the list arrives we will contct you. At that time we wil confirm a collection date or delivery date, and when eggs are being sent we will require the full delivery address including postcode. Given the exceedingly high demand for hatching eggs we are limiting customers to a maximum number of 12 eggs for any one variety, although you may request more than one variety at any one time. Please note, we only send eggs within the UK and EU, and will not provide eggs to be forwarded on outside that area. See full entry


05/03/18 - Snow and Cold

Living down a tapestry of minor roads and forestry commission tracks we know the local gritting teams are never going to visit. So as soon as we heard of the forthcoming snow we stocked up. Subsequently, by the time the snow actually hit everything was securely undercover and fully supplied with a few days feed and water. In fairness heritage turkeys do manage very well in bad weather and in past years after sudden overnight flurries we have gone out to find them happily perched outside whilst covered in snow. But thats no real surprise as managing in adverse weather conditions is one of their virtues. Delighted to say that everything came through the cold and snow fine and its on with the breeding season as soon as it warms up. See full entry

15/02/18 - Early Eggs, Pairing Groups

Just a quick reminder that early eggs are an indication of early breeding. So, make sure that your birds are paired up before breeding starts. Most important to remember is that a hen visited by a fertile stag can remain fertile with his 'deposit' for the rest of that season. The fertility from the initial deposit will diminish as the season progresses, but essentially any subsequent poults from that hen cannot be guaranteed even when they have been paired correctly at a later stage. This is because turkeys unlike other poultry do not flush out the previous deposit. So, the lesson here is to pair up your birds as soon as possible after Christmas, and essentially your turkeys should be paired up by now, or being kept separate until you do. The research on this issue was undertaken by Marsden in America in the 1940's. See full entry

28/01/18 - Lambourne End Centre

Today we delivered a quartet of Norfolk Black turkeys to their new home at Lambourne End Centre where they will become a 'breeding group' as part of the joint Heritage Turkeys, TCUK, RBST and PCGB project. Eagerly met by the volunteers and management the birds soon settled in and we are confident they will become a great asset to both Lambourne Centre and the breeding project. Special thanks to Shay Hedges who won the Jack Petchey award which made the purchase possible. See full entry


28/01/18 - Buff - Joint Turkey Project

Last year Dennis Harding took a group of Buff turkeys and we are delighted to say he had a successful year with them. Our visit today was to help him sort his 2018 breeding groups. As many will know the Buffs have suffered from inappropriate breeding over the years, and they often present with white in the tail, black in various places and poor wings. Another issue is the basic buff colour which is often presented as just too dark or too light. Well, from the original birds and last years poults Dennis and Brenda have sorted his 4 breeding quartets for the 2018 season. That's a lot of birds being produced for sure, but don't panic as the market won't be flooded with birds that don't meet the standard. That has been a serious problem in the past and only served to dilute and diminish the Buff variety. Dennis will be selecting the Buffs that best meet the standard for his future breeding, and his surplus birds will be heading for the table. Just like the old boys used to do... See full entry

18/01/18 - UK Prevention Zone

H5N6 Avian Influenza Prevention Zone - England Following findings of bird flu in South Dorset and Warwickshire, Defra has introduced a national 'Avian Influenza Prevention Zone' (AIPZ) covering the whole of England. This national zone replaces the AIPZ put in place for South Dorset on 12th January 2018. See full entry

11/01/18 - Avian Flu - Dorset

There have been 3 deaths attributed to'avian flu' in wild swans somewhere in Dorset. This has yet to be confirmed by an announcement from DEFRA, and as yet there are no restrictions in place. It would be prudent to start thinking now about how you are going to manage your poultry if restrictions are imposed. See full entry


08/01/18 - Turkeys for the Table

This weekend I attended a poultry show and the usual question was asked, if these turkeys are rare how can eating them be justified. Well, turkeys were originally domesticated and reared for the table, and over the years various varieties with unique virtues have been develop within the domestic stock. However, in recent years commercial turkeys have essentially replaced the original domestic stock, and we are now at a point where our truly 'heritage' varieties and its gene pool are at risk of being lost forever. There is a desperate need to keep this gene pool alive, otherwise this valuable resource will be lost for future generations. Once the unique genetic resource is gone, then it is gone 'forever'. By way of example if the commercial turkey stock were depleted, and if we don't do all we can to save the traditional turkey gene pool, then there would nothing left to rebuild and move forward. Most turkey keepers however passionate about keeping the truly traditional tur... See full entry

01/01/18 - 2018 New Years Resolution

Well if one thing stands out from 2017 it was the increase of 'cross bred' badly managed turkeys with a doubtful provenance becoming available. This is so disappointing because, other than as pets or table birds, all they do is to 'dilute' the core breeding stock and undermine what is being undertaken to save our heritage varieties. So, the New Year Resolution is to work even harder to raise awareness and ensure that our truly standard varieties of turkey are retained for future generations. See full entry

31/12/17 - 2017 Project Summary

Well where did that year go… Regards the Heritage Turkeys, TCUK and RBST joint turkey project a lot was achieved with a few breeding groups being placed in key locations. In particular we have Buffs well placed and breeding, and it is now a case of networking and selecting and managing them sensibly. Other varieties such as Bourbon Reds, Crollwitzers and Norfolk Blacks have similarly been placed. Undoubtedly there is still lots to do, but the project is moving forward. Anyone interested in holding and managing a 'breeding group' of turkeys as part of the project please let me know.. See full entry


02/12/17 - 2017 National Results

Entry numbers were down on previous years but all varieties were on show, and looking at the judges comments I think the standards were generally good. Champion Turkey, Slate Stag Diane Tanner Reserve Champion, White Hen Ian & Brenda Waterman Best Opposite Sex, White Hen Ian & Brenda Waterman Best In Breed Blue, Ian & Brenda Waterman Bourbon Red, Ian & Brenda Waterman Bronze, Ian & Brenda Waterman Buff, Ian & Brenda Waterman Crollwitzer, Diane Tanner Harvey Speckled, Peter Hayford Narragansett, Ian & Brenda Waterman Norfolk Black, George Brearley Slate, Diane Tanner White, Ian & Brenda Waterman See full entry

30/11/17 - 2017 National Show

Wishing everybody well who is entering birds at the 2017 National Poultry Show. Don't forget to visit the TCUK stand and catch up on all the turkey news. Then there is the TCUK AGM at 1600 on the Saturday. See full entry

09/04/17 - Joint Turkey Project

It has been a long haul since the start of the TCUK, RBST and PCGB project, but this week saw the first delivery of turkeys under the scheme. On Sunday 09/04/2017 we delivered a trio of Crollwitzers to Scotland, and saw them safely and happily into their amazing new home. Unfazed by the 8 hour trip up the hens were sufficiently settled to produce two eggs on their first morning. A brilliant start………  See full entry


01/04/17 - Cornwall Turkeys

Cornwall Turkeys It is with much sadness we pass on the awful news that Pam Drake died today. A passionate breeder of Norfolk Black turkeys she achieved a great deal in bringing them back to their original standard. Her passion, patience and understanding as a Norfolk Black breeder ensures that she leaves behind a tremendous legacy. Before she passed Pam was able to see the first of the years eggs laid, and was greatly comforted in the knowledge that her beloved Norfolk Black line will continue as her husband Frank is now working them. We offer Frank and his family our sincere condolences at this difficult time.  See full entry

19/03/17 - 2017 First Turkey Egg

First Turkey Egg Well this year, and unusually, it is a Narragansett that lays the first turkey egg of the season. Compared to most years this season is a little later for us than usual, but it has begun. Let's hope it is a good one for all and that we can put the events of lockdown behind us.. Brenda has just bought in two Bronze eggs, seems as though we are on the way.. See full entry

17/03/17 - Power Washing Hatchery

It is that time of year again when the final preparation takes place before the breeding season is upon us. Well, I say final preparation, but there is always something that needs to be undertaken in a hurry as the eggs begin to gather and settle before going into the incubators. Today, to take benefit of the weather Brenda power washed the hatchery. So the doors and windows are now open, with a fresh breeze whistling through and drying the place out. We deep clean at the end of each season, but this 'freshen up' alongside the smell of disinfectant brings home the realisation that the season is almost here.. See full entry


09/03/17 - First Goose Egg

Well a day later than last year, but the West of England Geese have laid their first egg of the season. Given the interest in these delightful geese I hope there are plenty more as the demand is high. They are going to be busy keeping up with the demand.  See full entry

24/12/16 - Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner We have just finished preparing a 15 month old Norfolk Black stag for our dinner tomorrow. He had a good life free ranging around the paddocks and hopefully took the opportunity to enjoy the varied diet. He has a proportionate amount of fat in all the right places, a good meat to bone ratio, and certainly looks good in the roasting tin. It is always a bitter sweet time despatching a bird for the table, but this prticular Norfolk Black had pale legs and too much bronzing, and he would never have been bred from. So, like his forefathers before him he is destined for the table. I do hope those who embarked upon the journey to rear their own turkey for the Christmas table have had the success they wished. Sadly work commitments denied us the opportunity of previous years when everything on the Christmas table was home grown here at Dodpen. Maybe next year life will be less hectic. On another note, it seems so strange looking out from my office window accross ... See full entry

20/12/16 - Kingsbridge Cancelled

Kingsbridge Cancelled With Avian Flu now confirmed in Louth in Lincolnshire I doubt anyone will be surprised to hear that DEFRA has as as a precaution banned all gatherings. Do look on the DEFRA website to ensure you are familiar with current guidance and to check you are undertaking the requirements. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/poultry-gatherings-suspended-following-avian-flu-case 1. The ban on gatherings of chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese applies in England, Scotland and Wales. More information on what gatherings are affected 2. Restrictions remain in place requiring all poultry and captive birds across Great Britain to be housed to prevent the spread of avian flu. 3. An outbreak of avian flu was confirmed on a farm in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire on December 16. 4. For further advice on avian influenza contact the Defra Helpline on 03459 33 55 77. For media queries contact Defra press office on 020 8225 7618 or out of hours on 0345 051 8486. See full entry


19/12/16 - Federation Show Thank You

Federation Show - Thanks Some exhibitors understandably stayed away because of Avian Flu, and the outbreak certainly had an impact upon the number of visitors attending the show. However, all things considered it was a great show and a credit to the hard working team of volunteers who beavered away behind the scenes in difficult circumstances to make it such a success. I applaud and thank you all. I feel particular thanks are due to Richard Sadler who kept a steady and sensible hand upon the tiller during some very turbulent times. Thank You one and all. See full entry

17/12/16 - Federation Show 2016

Federation 2016: Results Only 11 of the 15 turkeys entered into the 2016 Federation Show actually turned up, but given the circumstances I don't think it was a bad turn out at all. We actually picked up three best of breed and a second place. But when you put it into perspective in some sections it wasn't so much a 'competition' as a 'turning up' award. We achieved 'Reserve Best in Show' with our Norfolk Black hen, and I am delighted with this as the judge had 11 birds to consider, so there was an actual element of competition. The Best Turkey in Show was won by a Bronze hen entered by Sophie and Jo Merchant. Absolutely the best bronze I have ever seen, excellent in all areas, and a credit to their breeding strategy and presentation skills. Mr B Ward the turkey judge did an excellent job, and he happily used the comment element of the judges card. This meant that all who entered had the benefit of a comment from an experienced turkey judge. One comment in his summary was... See full entry

16/12/16 - Federation Poultry Show

National Federation of Poultry Clubs Championship Show Organisers of the Federation Show have been taking advice from all the appropriate authorities and the event is still on. Importantly, the organisers have taken numerous precautions on site to minimise risks to poultry, poultry exhibitors, and poultry enthusiasts visiting the event. Numbers of turkeys being exhibited was low this year anyway, and following recent events this has been further reduced. But we will be taking a few, as will a couple of other turkey keepers. So the turkey flag will be flying at the event. Brenda has stepped in and is running the TCUK stand at the show, and we look forward to meeting you there for a chat and catch up. There will also be turkey related items on sale at the TCUK stand so you can get the perfect gift for the turkey keeper in your life.  See full entry


11/12/16 - Prince Charles and Turkeys

The Sunday Times carried an interesting article today that identify Prince Charles plans to include traditional heritage turkeys as part of the rare breed livestock to be kept at Dumfries House in Ayrshire, the property he bought for the nation in 2007. Prince Charles, along with other key organisations and individuals such as Jimmy Doherty and Tom Beeston from RBST, believe that the strongest strategy toward securing the survival of traditional heritage turkeys into the future is to get them 'onto the menu'. It seems logical that developing a niche 'table market' for traditional heritage varieties of turkey will encourage a sustainable and viable future. It's a tried and tested formula that has been seen to work with other rare and endangered varieties of livestock that are managed and monitored by the RBST. That is not to diminish what turkey enthusiasts have achieved over the years, and certainly many varieties would already have been lost if it hadn't been for their dedic... See full entry

10/12/16 - Lock Down

With outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) confirmed in poultry and wild birds in several countries across Europe the government has imposed a 'lock down' of all poultry. As a responsible poultry keeper you have to undertake all that is reasonable, and for most this means keeping their birds locked in. For birds used to free ranging this can be a really stress full time. Your birds are more likely to fight in confined spaces, just imagine a group of teenagers locked in a single bedroom for a month and you will get the picture. As a stress buster try hanging items such as a cabbage or brussel sprout stem in their shed. Ensure drinkers are located away from perches to avoid fouling, and importantly make sure they can't be knocked over by the confined birds. Improve ventilation as confined birds can generate a lot of heat and disease spreads quickly in that environment. A secure mesh door and windows are an ideal provision as they encourage an air flow whic... See full entry

07/12/16 - Avian Flu

As you will probably be aware outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8) have been confirmed in poultry and wild birds in several countries across Europe. Please follow the link below to the DEFRA website where they offer guidance and advice. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-measures-to-protect-poultry-against-avian-flu More information on the situation in England can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#biosecurity More information about Avian Influenza - including biosecurity guidance for Scotland is available from the Scottish Government website: http://www.gov.scot/avianinfluenza For more information on the situation in Wales: http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/ahw/disease/avianflu/?skip=1&lang=en See full entry


19/11/16 - National Poultry Show

2016 National Poultry Show Best Turkey at Show Diane Tanners Crollwitzer won Best Turkey at show.. Very well deserved, a super example combined with an immaculate presentation.. Heritage Turkeys: Well, what a great show it was for us; Reserve Champion Turkey Best Opposite Sex Best Female Best Blue Best Narragansett Best Bourbon Red A full list of show results will be posted on the TCUK website in due course.  See full entry

18/11/16 - Good Luck

Good Luck to All Just a quick 'good luck' to everyone who have entered birds into the National Poultry Show this weekend. There are 35 turkeys entered so its a good opportunity for potential keepers to see what are available and to talk to other enthusiasts. See full entry

17/11/16 - Countryfile Spring Diaries

Countryfile Spring Diary Video As you can imagine we regularly take calls from people asking us what we do here. This then leads on to an interesting chat about our traditional turkeys, their history and the breeding projects. To support our conversation we point them towards a short video we made for the Countryfile Easter Diaries that went out in May 2016. Ok, most of the birds were bedraggled from breeding, but it gives an idea of where we are and what we do.  See full entry


16/10/16 - Taking Stock

Taking Stock It was an absolute joy going around the turkeys yesterday morning and seeing just how they are all progressing. This years poults have done really well, and the promise they originally showed early in the season seems to be coming to fruition. I like to see another full moult before I am totally convinced and satisfied, but they are doing well and we are very pleased. In particular there are some nice Bourbon Reds with good tails, solid black Norfolk Blacks, clear Blues with good legs, and well marked Slates. Importantly, our Buff groups have provided us with good solid coloured poults which is brilliant news. We also took the opportunity to shortlist which of our birds will be going to the National Show in November. It is always interesting to see just how the birds you have selected match up with the others entered, and of course to see which birds the judge chooses. The National is a great opportunity to see just what the standar... See full entry

03/10/16 - Turkey Keeper Courses

Turkey Keeper Courses As many of you will know earlier in the year we ran a 'training event' as part of the TCUK, RBST and PCGB project. The feedback from the event has been excellent and this, coupled with the regular requests we get at Heritage Turkeys, has encouraged us to offer regular courses. The courses will cover everything from 'hatch to despatch' and be organised to meet the needs of an individual or group depending upon who is attending. We will add a page to the website in the near future that will give all the details. Any suggestions regard content, or questions regards timeframe or costs, please contact us via email or phone. See full entry

02/09/16 - Slates - Naturally

As we usually do at the end of the season we give the hens the opportunity to rear a brood naturally. Importantly it shows us that they still retain the capability, and it is always such a delight to see these family groups as they develop. Of particular interest has been a Slate hen who along with another started sitting in their pen. Each has their own clutch of eggs, and one chose to nest under out of sight under a large bamboo whilst the other set up alongside a tub of herbs. Half way through incubation the 'bamboo' hen moved her nest a few feet and out into the open grass. She did this over a couple of days moving a short distance each time. We thought this a very strange and questionable act, and there seemed no logic to it. We noticed that she had left a couple of eggs behind in the original nest, and that in itself is not remarkable. But to relocate with six eggs and set up where she was easily seen and exposed to the elements… crazy. Of the tw... See full entry


24/08/16 - Turkey Training Event

RBST, TCUK and PCGB Training Day As you are aware RBST, TCUK and PCGB joined together earlier this year to improve awareness and status of traditional varieties of turkey within the UK. As part of the project we at Heritage Turkeys were delighted to be asked to run a 'training day' for prospective 'turkey keepers' who had shown an interest. The day was a resounding success with 14 delegates and four trainers enjoying an informative day in the sunshine 'talking turkey'. The delegates came from a wide spectrum of backgrounds including a zoo, farm parks, schools and enthusiastic individuals. Some had travelled a considerable distance to attend including one delegate who had flown in from Scotland just for the event. Topics discussed covered everything from 'hatch to despatch' and with engaging questions throughout the time simply flew by. Renowned poultry vet David Parson generously found time to give an illuminating talk on turkey welfare and diseases.... See full entry

01/08/16 - A New Addition

A New Addition As some will know earlier this year our beloved cocker spaniel Poppy died, and the place just hasn't been the same without a wet nose, muddy feet, dog hair and loyal companion around. So, after much debate and searching we decided to look for another dog. Eventually we settled on Tor a 14 month old working Clumber Spaniel. Although an adorable character he just wasn't going to make the grade as a trial / working dog. But disinterested in anything feathered and scared of cats he fits in here perfectly. We are lucky to have him, and hopefully you will enjoy his company should you visit.  See full entry

23/07/16 - Keeping Turkeys Cool

Cool Turkeys We have had a number of calls from turkey keepers concerned about heat stress in their turkey flock, and with the recent 'very hot days' it can be a problem. But do remember it is the hot sultry nights in the hen house that can cause most problems, and particularly so if it is over stocked and unventilated. Below are just a few simple pointers which I hope help: Shade is essential and your poultry must have somewhere they can get out of the sun, and this can be provided by simply placing a sheet over part of their run or somewhere within a pen. Adequate air flow within the coop itself is essential on hot nights, and this can be easily achieved by opening windows and roof vents to allow the hot air to escape. Replacing solid coop doors with mesh doors will significantly improve ventilation. But do be careful to ensure the safety and security of your poultry is not compromised when creating a cooler environment for them. ... See full entry


28/06/16 - Turkey Eggs Boiled

I was asked a couple of days ago if turkey eggs were good to eat, and it was great to chat with someone about the delights of cooking with one of natures most perfectly packaged foods. Brenda regularly uses them in her baking and this suits me and my sweet tooth just fine. Of course they make the most delicious scrambled eggs and omeletts as well. But my favourite when cooking turkey eggs 'naturally' is to have them boiled and to dip into their golden goodness. This is how we boil and enjoy our turkey eggs here, when there are any to spare that is. Turkey Eggs: Boiled Method: Place the eggs in the smallest pan available and only add enough cold water to cover them. Put the lid on the solid based pan and place over the highest heat possible. When the water comes to the boil, remove the pan from the heat and wait for: Small turkey egg 6 minutes, Large turkey egg 6.5 minutes. After the appropriate time has elapsed, remove... See full entry

21/06/16 - Royal Three Counties

This was the show where the RBST and TCUK, supported by the PCGB, launched the turkey project. Given the number of people who stopped to chat about the turkeys and project I think it safe to say it was a successful launch. We took 10 turkeys from 8 varieties and they soon settled in to the three excellent pens RBST had arranged for them. Within no time they had laid a few eggs and were nibbling at the planted herb tubs. The whole ensemble was well received with positive feedback on both turkeys and the pens. Adam Hanson stopped by for a chat and is taking some turkeys as part of the project. This of course is good for the birds and excellent for the project itself. Brenda spent almost all her time at the stand 'talking turkey' and this has proved to be really useful. Lots of people showed a deep interest and we are optimistic that some useful links have been made. What was absolutely brilliant were the number of people who introduced themselves a... See full entry

15/06/16 - Going Broody

Going Broody As you know to encourage or turkeys to lay more eggs we collect them twice daily, and these we either incubate ourselves, sell on as fertile eggs to other enthusiasts, or they go for the table. Then at the end of the season we positively encourage our girls to sit a clutch for themselves and undertake the rearing process as nature intended. It is how we assess their 'parenting skills' and ensure that they still have the necessary instinct to go it alone. Well this year their instincts have taken over and almost all the girls have decided to go broody now. Not sure what tipped the balance but suspect the weather was the main contributing factor. And there is no mistaking that they are definitely broody and wanting to sit tight. This creates a bit of a dilemma because, if we stop them sitting now they may not want to sit again later in the season. But if we let them continue sitting then the outstanding orders for 'hatching egg' won't be ... See full entry


12/06/16 - Norfolk Blacks

Norfolk Blacks We have just spent the morning cleaning out the hatchery and broody cages. It is a bit of a mundane chore, but also a great opportunity to have a really close look at just how well the little ones are doing, and we are delighted to say they are going along just fine…. Of particular note the majority of our Norfolk Black have good black legs which is a desired feature regards the British Standards. But what is really interestingly is that there are a few with very dark faces and a reduced proportion on the usual lemon yellow. These little ones are definitely going to be watched as they progress. It may be that these 'darker faced' poults will help resolve the 'bronze blushing' that detracts from the solid black of Norfolk Blacks. Over recent seasons we have looked at Norfolk Black breeding stock around the UK, at numerous shows, and on various websites, and clearly the 'bronze blushing' is still an issue. I am aware the 'bronze blushing' is partly an effec... See full entry

30/05/16 - Sherborne Country Fair

Sherborne Castle Country Fair As you know both TCUK and RBST, with PCGB support, have combined forces to undertake a number projects this year. The intention is to raise awareness about traditional heritage varieties of turkey, with any funds raised going toward key projects to help secure them for future generations. As part of that project we were invited to join the RBST tent at Sherborne Country Fair and display some of our turkeys. Quite a leap into the unknown and a bit of an adventure for all. Well we are delighted to report that the turkeys went down very well and initiated a tremendous amount of interest. In fact the turkey area was full for most of the day. Although answering questions all day was fun it was also undeniably tiring. But the enthusiasm and interest for the turkeys made it all so worthwhile. We were amazed by our turkeys who managed the unfamiliar surroundings very well. Ok, they experience a variety of situations here with... See full entry

28/05/16 - Turkeys to the Azores

Travelling Turkeys Earlier this week I received an email from the Azores with regard to some Bourbon Red turkey eggs we had sent. Well we get enquiries from all over the world so I wasn't initially thrown by the location, but I just couldn't remember having sent anything to the Azores. A little backtracking soon threw some light upon events. I had sent the eggs to a hotel in the Lake district, and I remember doing it because there were specific instructions with regard to arriving on a certain day and before a certain time. I thought the timeframe was just to meet an opening for an incubation opportunity, and it is something we are requested to do quite regularly. That element was easily achieved. What I hadn't realised was the protracted onward journey for these Bourbon Red eggs. Their initial postal journey continued on for quite a while and included three plane journeys before they arrived at their final destination in the Azores. It is astou... See full entry


21/05/16 - Buff Turkeys and Posting

Buff Turkeys As many will know we are passionate about the Buff turkey and getting them back to where their future is more secure. Sadly recent years had seen a significant decline in Buff numbers, and the available stock just wasn't breeding true. However, success with our Buffs last year enabled us to release two good stags a few months ago to two turkey keepers. In both cases the Buff stags were mated to the turkey keepers own hens. We are delighted that both stags have now seen a good number of chicks hatch from their mating, and it is just a matter of patience waiting to see how they progress. Fingers crossed………. We also sent Buff eggs up to Scotland to a passionate turkey man who has been patiently waiting to work with them for quite some time. He phoned this morning and from the 16 Buff eggs we sent 13 have hatched which is an excellent result. Importanly the eggs we sent were from two seperate Buff lines to maximise the opportunity for goo... See full entry

20/05/16 - An Optomistic Week

Countryfile Diaries Well the Countryfile Diaries program we were involved with was aired this week and the response has been excellent. The hatching egg sequence was particularly well received with lots of interesting comments. But lets face it who can resist the wonder of one of the miracles of nature and fluffy chicks. Anyway, the most important thing is that after the program went out people phoned up and enquired about the turkeys and their history, and some even asked about the possibility of keeping traditional heritage varieties of turkeys themselves. The filming was fun to do and it is great that the segment has been well received. But more importantly the turkeys have had a few minutes of fame and raised their profile. A great result… RBST, TCUK and PCGB We attended a meeting this week to discuss working on a joint project between RBST, TCUK and PCGB. RBST are taking turkeys under their wing this year and are fundraising on their b... See full entry

15/05/16 - Countryfile Diaries

Wednesday 18th May at 09:15am on BBC One. Thursday 19th May at 06.30 am on BBC Two As you may know we recently had a BBC crew here filming for the new 'Countryfile Diaries' daytime series. Given 'Spring' was their theme they came here to film fluffy poults and capture on film a turkey egg hatching. We are delighted to say the turkeys delivered on both counts and the the Countryfile Team went away happy. Whilst on site we were asked about our passion for turkeys and how we saw the future for traditional heritage varieties. So we were delighted to be able to mention a 'turkey project' we have been engaged in between the 'Rare Breed Survival Trust' and 'Turkey Club UK'. The project is to specifically look at how the future of traditional heritage varieties of turkey may be secured for the future. This joint 'turkey project' will be launched a little later in the year at the Three Counties Show, and people will find out how they can play a part in helpin... See full entry


14/05/16 - Just Another Week

Just Another Week We have been working in Cornwall for a few days which was really enjoyable, but as always on long drives home the discussion turns to what we will find when we get back regards our assorted poultry and pets. There hadn't been any 'emergency phone calls' while away so nothing drastic was anticipated, and upon arriving home we were pleasantly surprised that all had ticked over nicely. Hatching We try to plan hatching to coincide with when we are actually here, but sometimes circumstances dictate it occurs when we are away. So we were delighted to find that hatching had progressed well in our absence and there were lots of new hatchings which is always great to see. Although it always tugs to leave our birds at crucial times it is so rewarding to watch those we have trained and leave in charge become confident and compotent. So satisying to know others will be able to continue in our work when we no longer can. Now it is just a... See full entry

03/05/16 - Hatching for the BBC

Over the years we have worked on a number of projects with the BBC and other similar organisations. But this weekend was the first time we had ever been asked to hatch to a precise time for onsite filming. We knew the day the crew were coming to Heritage Turkeys to film a 'Spring Themed' event for 'Countryfile Diaries', but the hatching egg requirement was a bit of a last minute inclusion. I was amused by a charming researcher who thoughtfully enquired at what time the hatchings would occur so she could ensure the crew were onsite and prepared. I explained that nature wasn't quite that precise, but stated I was 'optimistic' given we had hatchings due the day before and after, although not actually on the day they planned to be here. The day before there were quite a few eggs showing early signs of hatching and we went to bed optimistic that we would have something to film. But during the night and before the crew arrived we had 7 hatch. Fabulous, flu... See full entry

30/04/16 - Swallows are Back

The swallows returned this morning and bought a fabulous sunny day with them. It is such a delight to see them cartwheeling around Dodpen and over the valley again, and what a journey they have been on since we last saw them. It will only be a few weeks before they are lining their 'mud cup' nests with turkey feathers. It is the same every year. Typically they spot a feather on the ground and do a 'fly past' to assess it, and then its a quick low swoop to pick it up without landing. The swallow immediately climbs quite high before dropping the feather and letting it float down towards the ground. Then with lightning speed and in mid flight it grabs the feather again, but this time in a more appropriate position. The turkey feather is then taken off to line the swallows nest and provide comfort and warmth for its chicks. Recycling, its not a modern thing, nature has been doing it for years. These acrobatics are just 'poetry in motion', utterly brillian... See full entry


25/04/16 - Time Flies

Well another week passed, where do they go?. Hatchings percentages are really good and it seems as though we have poults popping up everywhere. Such an exciting time I think. We currently have builders on site and they are fascinated by the hatching process and the development of the poults. Spring Fever is infectious and everyone is bouyed up by the new life and blossoming trees that surrounds us. The various incubators have certainly grabbed the attention of our young grandson and he is fascinated and peers into them at every opportunity. Hopefully he is a young poultry keeper in the making. Already a confident collector of chicken eggs he loves filling the basket with our chocolate brown Marans eggs. But I think baking with Nanna is his motivation as biscuits and cakes are always on the agenda when he is around. At a recent poultry show he declared he liked Frizzles the best, so clearly he is a work in progress regards turkey... See full entry

18/04/16 - Incubation and Eggs

Laying Well: It has been a hectic few days sorting eggs, putting orders together and generally trying to keep up with the turkeys who are laying very well at the moment. I say 'at the moment' because as every poultry keeper knows it can all change in an instant. Something as simple as a strange dog wandering past the pens can put the turkeys off lay, and the annual Lyme Regis airshow will put the hens off for a couple of days. It is great to have a ringside seat as they screech by directly overhead, but a visit from the Red Arrows always means a definite drop in production. But overall, the turkeys are doing well. Well, except for the Crollwitzers that is, as they haven't really got going yet. The issue with them are the low numbers being laid and smaller than usual eggs. Not sure quite what is going on there, so this group need to be watched carefully. Incubation: The process of incubation never ceases to fascinate me, and with the season... See full entry

10/04/16 - Make Your Turkey Count

Interest in all our turkey varieties is as high as ever this year and the orders just keep coming in. This tells us that people are more aware, interested and prepared to give heritage varieties of turkey a go. As all turkey keepers know this initial interest leads to an addiction for these delightful birds, and once hooked rarely do people ever just keep to one variety. You would think that this increased interest means the heritage varieties of turkey are now less vulnerable than they were. But sadly this just doesn't seem to be the case. Certainly more people than ever are interested keeping turkeys, and that is really great. However, in our experience heritage turkeys with a traceable line and provenance that can breed true and do all that is requied of them are actually becoming much harder to find. This is because over recent years unmanaged breeding and crossbreeding between the various heritage varieties has diluted blood... See full entry


03/04/16 - A Great Day

Well what a great day it turned out to be. First a call from a satisfied customer to say that the Bourbon Red pair he recently had from here have settled in well and the hen has started laying. It makes all the effort so worthwhile, and I am looking forward to hear more about how they progress. Then there was the mowing, and I was able to 'first cut' our large field. I thoroughly enjoyed cutting the paths around the field and pens, it always looks so much neater when it is done. This year we have had to cut paths to the seven new breeding units which was a joy given the time it has taken to get them ready. Whilst I mowed Brenda has been busy in the new pens planting them out with fruit trees and screening. The intention is to create as 'natural' an environment as we can so both adults and poults can enjoy and benefit from the opportunity to forage. They pick up so many essential minerals and vitimins which is great for the breeding adults and a grea... See full entry

02/04/16 - Eggs Everywhere

We have just returned home from a week working away to find an abundance of turkey eggs in the kitchen all neatly labelled and dated. The first task was to record who laid what and when, and then to organise setting the eggs into trays for incubation. As this is the start of the season most of these eggs go into the incubators and this is because we need to hatch sufficient poults to sustain our own breeding program, and of course to fulfil our ever growing orders list. But doubtless we will have a small surplus of turkey eggs this weekend, and we are always being asked what we do with these. Well the answer is simple, those turkey eggs we don't eat ourselves are sold at the farm gate. I don't know if many of you saw Countryfile on Easter Sunday which featured an item on Sarah Hawkswood who sells turkey eggs along with other varieties of eggs that she rears with her husband David. The Countryfile item was a fascinating insight into her egg busine... See full entry

22/03/16 - Patience Patience

The turkeys are starting to lay more regularly and we are collecting eggs and incubating them. Next stage is candling to see if the eggs we set are fertile, and then its another wait to see that they are hatching well. At a few months old the poults have sufficient feathering for us to get an idea as to whether the pairings have gone well and the results are as hoped. But some varieties don't develop to their best until they have experienced a few senior moults, so more waiting. As you can see there is no rushing turkeys, and it is why 'patience' is a required character trait for anyone taking up 'poultry keeping'. Hey, maybe we should breed to develop the 'patience gene' in poultry keepers. Now there's a thought. See full entry


17/03/16 - Harvey Speckled Ratified

It is great to say that the Harvey Speckled turkey has just been ratified by the Poultry Club of Great Britain. The Harvey Speckled history is complex and controversial, and it has been a long journey getting these delightful turkeys to this stage. However, with an agreed standard to work to it is now that the hard work really begins if we are to ensure the Harvey Speckled has a secure future. I am sure you will be hearing more about this delightful variety as time rolls on. This reminds me, I must update their breed page to reflect this new found status. See full entry

16/03/16 - Posting Turkey Eggs

We are often asked if we send eggs through the post, and the answer is a definite yes. However, there are a few things that you need to know before you place a 'postal' order with us. Firstly we only sell eggs when we have hatched sufficient poults to maintain our breeding programs or fulfil our orders. Only then are eggs available for sale, and this means that some varieties will not be vailable until later in the year. Whenever selling eggs we prefer collection whenever possible. The reasoning behind this is that the hatchability of an egg can be significantly diminished by a postal or courier journey. We have heard of an occasional 100% hatch after such a journey, but that is the exception. So to reiterate, the general hatchability of fertile eggs is diminished considerably following a postal or courier journey. In fact we don't offer a guarantee of hatchability on any eggs we sell, even those collected, and this is because we have no influence up... See full entry

11/03/16 - Orders for 2016

Our early orders for 2016 have been excellent with requests across the range from adult birds, to poults and eggs. Recent years have shown a steady increase in enquiries about turkey keeping, and this has followed through to sales. However, this year, as in previous years, it is likely that demand for our Heritage Turkeys will exceed supply. So, if you are considering becoming a turkey keeper and purchasing our turkeys I strongly suggest the earlier you enquire and place an order the more likely you are to be successful. Don't worry if you are new to turkey keeing and have lots of questions as we are always delighted to talk with and encourage newcomers. But please be aware we travel extensively with our business and cannot always respond immediately. See full entry


09/03/16 - Breeding with Utility in Mind

We are often asked what we look for when breeding our turkeys. Although essentially a simple question there is an element that we consider which is often forgotten. It goes without saying that only fit and healthy birds should be selected for breeding, anything other than that and you are heading for trouble. Of course we breed to the 'show standard' as agreed and defined by the Turkey Club UK, and managed by the Poultry Club of Great Britain. But we also select a breeding bird for its 'utility qualities'. The 'utility qualities' are often overlooked, but they are an essential consideration when selelecting heritage turkeys that are already endangered and on the RBST Watchlist. It is so important to only breed from turkeys that can mate naturally, incubate and rear their own young independently, and are sufficiently robust to maintain themselves in a 'natural environment'. No matter how well our birds meet a 'show standard' they must also meet our '... See full entry

08/03/16 - Goose Egg: First for 2016

Our first Goose egg arrived today which is well timed given our order book for goslings. With the warmer weather forecast it may encourage them to continue and lay regularly.  See full entry

07/03/16 - Early Segregation

With the turkeys now showing strong signs of mating it is important to remember the necessity for segregation if you want to effectively manage your breeding groups. You really must put your breeding groups together early and keep them segregated. By early I mean before treading actually begins. If you wait until you see dislodged feathers in a pen before you separate your turkeys then you are probably too late. The reasoning behind such early sgregation is based upon research undertaken by renowned turkey breeder Marsden many years ago. His research showed that the sperm from a single mating at the beginning a season could still be viable at the end of the season. It is an amazing ability and is probably an evolutionary survival strategy. Understandably sperm viability will diminish as the breeding season progresses, but fertility is still possible. So, if you want to be assured your turkeys are 'breeding true' then you must keep unwanted stags away... See full entry


27/02/16 - 2016 First Egg: Buff Turkey

First egg of the year goes to the Buff Turkeys which is brilliant given their low numbers and that they are so at risk. Sadly the egg was laid in the mud and well kicked around before we found it. However, it was an optimistic event nonetheless and given the parading and posturing in all the pens the start of the season is not far away. The Buff Turkeys laid first last year as well, but it wasn't until March 17/03/2015 nearly a month later. See full entry

01/09/15 - TCUK Open Day

Heritage Turkeys are pleased to be hosting the first Turkey Club UK open day! starts at 11.00 until 4pm 19 September 2015 Food, Quiz, wonder around the Turkeys, talk to Judges or chat to like minded Turkey Keepers! enter Heritage Turkeys in Google for location and map. See full entry


20/07/15 - Adders at Dodpen

Occasionally we see adders at Dodpen and so we are always mindful when working in the fields and around the garden area. But today we found a beautifully marked adult adder basking close to the house. An absolutely stunning animal and given its very crisp well defined polished pattern I think the adder had recently sloughed. We carefully removed it to a safe area and quite a long way from house. See full entry

18/07/15 - Glow Worms

When we first moved to Dodpen we were delighted to find that there were glow worms in the area. We look for them each year and although the numbers fluctuate they have always been around. Brenda was late putting the birds away tonight and it was dark by the time she had finished. But walking back to the house she was delighted to have discovered a group of glow worms on the bank opposite the hatchery.  See full entry

01/07/15 - Too Hot for Turkeys

Wow, what a scorcher today was. But the birds seemed to get through it ok by sheltering in the long grass and under the trees. We lost a couple of poults though which was sad, and I put this down to the heat. The number of hens going broody is increasing which is frustrating, but I think this is a heat related issue with them. It is a little early for us to stop incubating, but as most orders are completed we probably wont push any more. Time to let the hens do their own thing and rear a few themselves. For me seeing a hen with chicks that she has reared herself is one of the most enjoyable things I see here. See full entry


28/06/15 - Bournemouth Explorers

When I was a lad we had 'bob a job' week, that's a shilling or 5p to you youngsters. Anyway, it was a way for local cub and scout groups to raise money. I suppose technically this event has disappeared. But we have just experienced the modern equivalent, and it was brilliant. Our eldest runs a very successful Explorer group in Bournemouth and this friday night a minibus turned up with 4 leaders and 11 explorers. They had with them everything they needed to camp in our field and were essentially self-sufficient for their stay. We had agreed a list of jobs with our lad beforehand and on the Saturday morning they started tackling the list, and at 14.00 on Sunday they all disappeared. In the meantime they had dug the holes, cemented and erected two new gates. They also painted all the turkey houses, and undertook a myriad of other tasks. Other than all the work they had undertaken you wouldn't know that they had been here. Bright, cheerful, well manner... See full entry

21/06/15 - Buff Turkey Update

'Line 1 Buffs' are breeding well and we currently have about 20 young poults from them. They are still laying so we will put more in the incubator and see how they progress.. Interestingly one hen has laid a clutch outside and is sitting tight. She has persistently laid outside and we have now 'fox proofed' her as best we can and will see how she progresses. Always an idependent character she certainly seems happier being left to her own devices. 'Line 2 Buffs' have been very slow to start and their early eggs have not been sucessful. However, we now have 5 young from this group, and hope to have a few more soon. Still a very long way to go with the Buffs, but a least we have something to work with. We are far more optomistic about their future than we were this time last year. See full entry

19/06/15 - Grass Snakes

Now I grew up in the country and over the years have handled many snakes. Ok I was never a big fan, but I was always comfortable around them. Until tonight that was. Brenda called me up to one of our raised vegetable beds where she had placed a tarpaulin to keep in the heat and progress the compost. Watch this she said as she threw back the tarpaulin to reveal a number of grass snakes. There was one about 3 feet long, 2 well over 2 feet, and at least four others of various lengths. Oh, and just for good measure a few slow worms. The reason I am confident that they are as long as I claim is that there was a shed skin on top of the mound, and that was two feet long. OK, coward that I am I measure it after our guests had gone. But tell me when did grass snakes start getting that big, and when did they start congregating in such numbers in the summer. I am giving the tarpaulin a wide berth in future, but I have a great idea for our next family party. See full entry


17/05/15 - Nightjars at Dodpen

This evening when putting the turkeys away I heard the churring of nightjars accross the valley. Since moving to Dodpen we have heard them every year, and it is wonderful that they have returned once again.  See full entry

15/05/15 - New Hatchery Completed

15/05/2015 Hatchery Building goes up today. Finally Heritage Turkeys gets its totally dedicated hatchery building. Ok, it is essentially two stables and tack room, but as a combined unit it offers the space and flexibility for our incubators, hatching units and heated pens. It is located next door to my office so we finally have everything together to manage the turkeys. It is hard to explain just how happy we are ………   See full entry

07/05/15 - White Turkeys

Today we acquired a pair of British White turkeys and these are to form the nucleus of a new breeding program at Heritage Turkeys. There is so much that is unknown about these delightful birds and it is going to be interesting undertaking the background research to find out more about them, and to initiate a breeding progrm to ensure they are kept for future generations. One thing for sure is that there aren't very many of them and we shall continue our search to add other bloodlines to our nucleus group. The British White is thought to have developed from white 'sports' of a Crollwitzer and Narragansett, and this is perfectly plausible given that all varieties of turkey have the ability to produce a white bird. Importantly, these British Whites must not to be confused with 'albinos', nor mistaken for commercial white turkeys which these birds most certainly are not. If you have British White Turkeys, or know of someone who does, please let us know as i... See full entry


18/04/15 - Buff chick first to hatch

Our first Buff turkey chick hatched today and it I am absolutely delighted as it is healthy and strong. This is such an important event given the critically low numbers of this delightful variety. Excitingly there are a few more Buff turkey eggs pipping as I type, and at last candling all the other eggs from this group appeared fertile. This is as good a start to the season as we could have hoped for, and hopefully by the end of the year we will have taken the first steps towards saving these turkeys. It is a great start.  See full entry

17/03/15 - Buff - First Egg 2015

17/03/2015 Buff turkey laid the first egg of the season. The Buff turkeys are laying which is brilliant news given that this particular variety are down to very low numbers and have in fact almost disappeared completely. We are desperate to save the Buff turkeys and scoured the UK looking for birds to improve and develop our line. Sadly even after all our searching and miles travelled we only found one group that was worth working with. Although we purchased the whole flock of 18 birds we are only able to work with 4 of them, one stag and three hens. We felt the remaining 14 from this group had just gone too far and had just too many faults for us to work with. So, working with our own original Buffs, we now have two small groups of birds from which we can try and halt the decline of these delightful turkeys. We are hoping that as the first egg of the year is a Buff it is a positive sign for the season ahead. Fingers crossed that the egg(s) are ferti... See full entry

18/01/15 - 2015 Kingsbridge Show

18/01/2015 Kingsbridge Show: our birds win Best of Breed We were really pleased with the two birds entered. Sadly there were not many birds entered in the turkey classes, but Malcolm Thompson the turkey judge made some nice comments about our birds afterwards. Norfolk Black Hen: First in Class and Best of Breed, Kingsbridge Show Crollwitzer Stag: First in Class and Best of Breed, Kingsbridge Show  See full entry


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