'Turkey shortage' talk is damaging small producers says Colne entrepreneur

Independent turkey farmers from Pendle have said that stories about a “shortage of turkeys” are wrong and are adversely affecting their business.
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Paul’s Farm, based in Colne, which hand rears free-range turkeys, says recent stories have prompted consumers to panic buy frozen turkeys.

The business, run by local entrepreneur Paul White and business partner Conor Walsh, has said it certainly has no shortage, and urged people to buy local this Christmas.

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Paul said: “There has been a lot of coverage about the free range turkey shortage, and there being 50% less turkeys available this year, and it’s having a severe impact on small scale producers.

Turkey producers Paul and Conor at Paul's FarmTurkey producers Paul and Conor at Paul's Farm
Turkey producers Paul and Conor at Paul's Farm

“There is no doubt that this year has been challenging for small turkey producers like us.

"The price of feed has gone through the roof, labour is pretty much none existent, and there have been additional costs trying to protect our birds from Avian Flu.

"We take great pride in how we take care of our birds, and there have been many sleepless nights.

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“The coverage of the ‘shortage’ has only further impacted us. It’s scared the public, and frozen turkey sales have risen dramatically, because people want to make sure they’ve got a turkey in their freezer for Christmas.

"It being British reared, or its welfare, has mattered less.

“That means that people like us have lots of turkeys left. The main impact of the free range shortage is to supermarkets and large scale suppliers, and people just want to make sure they’ve got a bird in their freezer.

“We’re starting to really worry. There is no shortage here. In fact, we have lots of heritage, ethically reared, free-range turkeys left, that we have sweated, cried and slogged our guts out over.

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"If you want a free-range turkey this year, please consider looking around, and supporting a small scale producer. We deliver across the UK.”

The new entrant turkey farmers were rewarded in the British Farming Awards last month, when they walked away as Silver medallists in the New Entrant category.

Paul (35) set up Paul’s Farm a year ago, and farms free-range turkeys, sheep and bees on the farm in Laneshaw Bridge. His business partner, 23-year-old Conor joined him on the farm at the end of summer this year.