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Since JLS disbanded in 2013, singer JB Gill has been turning his talent to turkeys. And, just like the five number one hits he clocked up with his band, JB has become a bit of a hit in the organic turkey industry – providing birds to all the stars.
Apparently the whole of Little Mix are fans with Leigh Anne ordering one wherever she is in the world. Speaking on White Wine Question Time, JB and his wife, Chloe, told host Kate Thornton all about their celeb fans.
“Perry [from Little Mix] was getting one last year,” explained JB, “and then I think she went to her mum's, and she's up in Newcastle, so she said she didn't want to take it.
“Her and Jade were going to have one at home because they were going to do two Christmases. Zayn's [Malik] had one for a couple of years. I've given a couple to some ITV commissioners.”
Chloe said that when JB is in meetings with commissioners they can never quite believe he’s a real turkey farmer. “We get commissioners come down here saying, ‘Do you really do it? Do you really have a farm?' And then J's like, ‘Yeah’.
“People come down to the farm just before Christmas Eve and J goes, 'Oh, that's the BBC commissioner...’”
Turkeys were believed to have been first brought to the UK in 1526 by William Strickland, who got six birds from Native American traders while he was travelling. While you can obviously pick up a turkey for Christmas dinner from any supermarket, nothing quite beats an organic bird.
Why is organic turkey better?
Organic turkeys are raised without any hormones or antibiotics and live a longer, more fulfilling life roaming around on the farm. Put simply, organic turkeys just taste better as they grow at a natural rate and aren’t pumped full of yucky stuff.
The easiest way to know if your turkey is organic is to order direct from a farm known for rearing turkeys in an organic fashion, however, if you do need to buy from a shop, choose one that is RSPCA Approved. This means they will have had a much better quality of life with more spacious barns and good air quality.
While many organic turkeys can be delivered direct to your door, some may only be collected from the farm where they were reared, just before Christmas. This at least sorts out the issue of where to keep it before the big day, but obviously it can be time consuming.
Whoever you order from, remember to check the last order dates – they do vary but generally get your order in before the second week of December to ensure you won’t be turkey-free on the big day.
Where to find your organic turkey
Now in his sixth year of raising organic turkeys, you can collect your Kelly Bronze turkey from JB’s farm on 23 December. While he may not have been doing this for years, his lovingly hand-reared turkeys have a huge celebrity following. The reason why they’re so popular and tasty? According to the owner of Kelly Turkey Farms, it’s “because they are treated to a few JLS songs whilst JB is feeding them.”
Only rearing traditional turkey breeds, Copas uses the same traditional farming methods as it did back in 1957 when they started in the business of turkeys. This includes allowing them to roam freely in the meadows, hand-plucking and game hanging.
These guys even have a turkey cam. Yes, that’s right, you can watch the little gobblers 24 hours a day, enjoying their life in the fields. You might also spot the odd alpaca, who are in the field to protect the turkeys from foxes. As well as collecting from the farm, you can get your Copa turkey delivered to your door or do a very glam ‘click and collect’ from Harvey Nichols in London.
Known for producing organic ducks for chefs across the world, their motto that ‘a happy bird is a tasty bird’ ensures that you’ll be getting a tasty turkey who had a very happy life. Fed on a diet of corn and cereal in the Ribble Valley in Lancashire, the turkeys are hand-delivered within a 100-mile radius from London or sent via overnight courier.
With their own hatchery and abattoir, Daylesford take their turkeys through every life-stage. Their Bronze turkeys are raised for 180 days and are encouraged to roam and explore the organic pastures and woodlands. All Daylesford products have full organic certification from the Soil Association.
Founded by a chartered surveyor turned-farmer, Herb Fed allows their small groups of hand-reared turkeys to roam freely to forage for their own food. They also have a unique addition to their diet – 10 varieties of fresh herbs, which gives them a sweet, unique flavour.
Fancy something different from turkey? Choose a goose; After all, it was good enough for the Crachit family in A Christmas Carol. Award-winning Rhug Estate geese are reared in small numbers and free to roam on organic pastures for seven months. They’re fed organic oats, which helps them develop the rich dark meat that they’re known for.
Listen to JB Gill and his wife Chloe chat more about life on the farm and how they transitioned from travelling the world with JLS to running a turkey farm on this week’s episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.