A day in the life of a Kent turkey farmer

PUBLISHED: 11:35 29 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:12 20 February 2013

A day in the life of a Kent turkey farmer

A day in the life of a Kent turkey farmer

Continuing our series 'down on the farm', we meet poultry and fruit farmer Anthony Fleck to hear all about his typical working day

A day in the life of a Kent turkey farmer


Continuing our series down on the farm, we meet poultry and fruit farmer Anthony Fleck to hear all about his typical working day


Name: Anthony James Fleck


Job title: Poultry and fruit farmer.


Where? Sutton Valence.



What sort of farm is it?


Primarily turkeys with some soft fruit.



At what age did you start?


My father had a small piece of land in Sutton Valence. He kept pigs and was a fruit grower in a small way. I grew up with that background.



Who was your inspiration?


I guess my father.



How log have you been in the farming industry?


44 years. The time has flown.



What training did you have?


I spent a year at the Sittingbourne Farm Institute a forerunner of Hadlow College - and then another year at the college itself, where I studied fruit production. Afterwards I travelled around the world, including a period spent on a fruit research farm in Canada and tobacco farms in New Zealand and Zimbabwe.



What sort of turkeys do you have?


I rear Kelly Bronze, the multi award-winning turkey. In 1972 Derek Kelly, who is based in Essex, chose turkey breeding stock from Oregon and he inaugurated a franchise operation in 1990. I am a Kelly Bronze franchisee. The day-old chicks, about 1,200 of them, arrive with us late in June when they are a day old. We nurture them indoors until they are about five weeks old, after which they are free range. The turkeys are reared to the highest best practice standards and we do not use any antibiotics.



Describe your working day


It very much depends on the time of year. During the earlier part of the year the soft-fruit takes precedence. We plant in the spring and crop between May and October. The turkey chicks arrive with us late in June. I check them every morning. They go out when they are about five weeks old - about 600 in each 2.5-three-acre enclosure so they have plenty of space. They love pecking the remains of the soft fruit especially the blackberries - and we also feed them concentrates. They have the most natural life possible, which is all part of the Kelly philosophy.



Tell us something about the farm itself


Coombe Farm lies south of the picturesque village of Sutton Valence. During the summer months we produce a range of soft fruits (mainly blackberries and raspberries) which we sell to local farm shops and supermarkets. Our turkeys are reared to the highest best practice standards and we do not use any antibiotics and so hygiene standards are immensely important. We only use top-quality feed and straw, and the water must be kept fresh and clean. Rearing the turkeys and growing the soft fruit complement one another very well.



Do you compete at agriculture shows?


No but we do take part in quite a few food events such as the Leeds Castle Festive Fare. We cook on site and invite visitors to sample. Kelly Bronze turkeys are especially succulent and they are chosen by a lot of celebrity chefs. Most people are won over by the excellence of the flavour and the quality of the meat. Once tried, few go back to another type of turkey and our customers are also very aware of the natural husbandry methods we employ.



Will either of your children follow in your footsteps?


One of my daughters is a barrister in London and the other works with the Kent police. At this point in time it doesnt look as though either will take over the farm.



Marks out of 10 for job satisfaction?


My work is a way of life. Very, very close to 10 out of 10!



GET IN TOUCH


Coombe Farm, Sutton Vallance ME17 3AX


Tel 01622 842792 or 07899 900313




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