High on a hill

Editor's Choice with Lesley Williams - Pics by Liz Barry

turkey-2turkey-1No, I’ve not been to a sing-along Sound of Music, but up into the hills above Neath to speak to Ian Roberts and his wife Cheryl, about their free range turkey farm. The Roberts’ moved to Old Castle Farm in 2007 and are now in their 7th year of producing bronze free-range turkeys

In addition to the turkeys, they have a flock of rare breed badger faced sheep, chicken and geese, bee hives and a farm shop selling not only their own produce, but carefully selected products from other local suppliers.

Ian and Cheryl are committed to improving and managing the landscape, and they are always looking to diversify into new skills. High animal welfare standards are at the heart of their farming life, and it’s the best practice attitude in everything that they do that sparked my interest. The birds get no routine antibiotics, no GM grain, no stress, and their beaks aren’t clipped.

The day I popped up to Tonna, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. The gentle tuk tukking coming from the birds was quite contrary to the, ‘What does the turkey say? Gobble gobble’ that I had been taught as a child. Suddenly all of the birds fell silent and looked skyward. ‘That’ll be a bird of prey’ said Cheryl ‘Even though they are far too big to be taken off by a red kite, they still keep watch’.

turkey-3They are housed in purpose-built barns where they sleep at night – although they don’t roost. During the day they are free to roam the farm and are usually to be found watching Ian go about his work.

Old Castle Farm is the only licensed poultry farm in the whole of the Swansea area, and when the time comes for them to be dispatched, they don’t have to endure a stressful journey as they are slaughtered on site.

So different are they from the commercially produced birds, that Ian and Cheryl give detailed instructions on how to cook the bird on Christmas morning. They’ve even given us a recipe for a traditional turkey pie, made using the leftover turkey – you’ll find this on page 164.

turkey-4

The view from the farm house looking towards Swansea

I’ve placed my order for a free range bronze turkey for my family this Christmas, and if you want to too, Old Castle Farm are taking orders now.

Visitors are welcome, but please call first.

The farm shop is open on the last weekend of every month.

 

 

 

 

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