Talking turkey with Lymm farmers who count the Queen and Jamie Oliver as fans

Warrington Guardian: BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Paul McAvoy with his turkeys BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Paul McAvoy with his turkeys

THEY were saved from the brink of extinction and now celebrity chefs and the royal family are among their fans.

Award-winning KellyBronze turkeys are only sold at 24 locations around the country but Warrington families can buy their luxury Christmas dinner at Crouchley Hall Farm in Lymm.

Bronze turkeys were brought to Europe from Mexico in the 16th century but were phased out in the 1950s and 60s when the bird’s black feather stubs were deemed unsightly.

But they saw a resurgence in the 1980s when the Kelly family gathered together the last remaining bronze breeding stock – some 300 birds.

Thirty years on and the gamble paid off with about 33,000 KellyBronze turkeys sold in the UK each Christmas.

The royal family joined the customer list in 1990 and Jamie Oliver describes them as the ‘best of the best’.

Paul McAvoy’s family at Crouchley Hall Farm started breeding KellyBronze turkeys last year and they hope to sell up to 150 birds direct from the farm gate this Christmas.

“We’re delighted to be the first KellyBronze farmers in Cheshire,” said dad-of-three Paul.

“We do what we do because we love it and take pride in it.

“It’s really nice when you get recognition and it’s great when you get it from these celebrity chefs. But last year we were getting e-mails from customers on the evening of Christmas Day saying how much they enjoyed the turkey. It really makes it worthwhile when you’re getting that sort of positive reaction.”

KellyBronze turkeys are all free-range, reared slowly to maturity, then dry plucked and hung to give an old-fashioned turkey taste.

Preparation time is faster too with a 5kg turkey expected to cook in two and a quarter hours.

The results speak for themselves with the turkeys regularly winning accolades including the BBC Good Food Award.

They have won the Quality British Turkey Award for eight years running and been awarded Great Taste prize for the past three years.

“So many times you hear people say that turkey is dry and tasteless and that is what set me off in this direction,”added Paul, aged 56.

“We started producing meat for our own use and so farmed our animals with the patience, care and attention that we knew would result in a high quality product. That approach is repeated on a larger scale with our turkeys.

“We became KellyBronze farmers as we were impressed with the strict rules that guarantee a quality product.

“The KellyBronze is the old traditional breed which has been selected for eating qualities and not economics.”

Paul’s father-in-lawHarold Morton bought Crouchley Hall Farm from shire-horse breeder James Gould in 1946 and his family has been there since.

He came to Lymm from Green Lane Farm on the Dunham Massey Estate to set up a dairy herd of Ayrshire cows.

Paul moved there with his wife Fi and children Sam, aged 17, Rachel, aged 21, and Laura, aged 25, in 1999 and first set up a breeding flock of Wiltshire horn sheep.

You can order a KellyBronze turkey until noon on Wednesday for collection on December 23 or 24. Visit crouchleyhallfarm.com or call Paul on 07729 609800/1

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