Mild weather leads to fatter turkeys this Christmas

Wednesday, 5th December, 2018 10:31am

Mild weather leads to fatter turkeys this Christmas

Darragh McCullough and friend

Louise Walsh

Christmas diners can look forward to a fatter turkey on their festive table this year and it’s all thanks to the soaring summer temperatures and mild autumn!

Meath farmers say they are finding that their free-range and grass-fed birds are on average up to one and a half pounds heavier this year and they are attributing it to the 2018 climate.

RTE’s Ear to the Ground presenter, journalist and Meath farmer Darragh McCullough says his turkeys spent a lot of the late summer sunbathing on his Elm Grove Farm at Gormanston.

“Originally turkeys are native to Mexico and so are indigenous to hot, warm places,” he said.

“On the last day of June, I collected 100 one-day old chicks and spent the next six weeks or so nurturing them under heat lamps.

“They were then full-time outdoors and basking in the sunshine, out-stretched on the grass with their wings spread.  Passing motorists actually commented on them.

“The mild temperatures ensured they weren’t cold and so didn’t use energy or fat keeping themselves warm, so they are about one and a half pound heavier this year.”

Over in Kells at Maperath Farm, Eoin Sharkey agreed that his bronze turkeys were also heavier this year.

“I’ve 600 certified free-range turkeys which are outside feeding all the time," he said.

“I put tags on them and weighed them each week and couldn’t understand why they were eating and not putting on weight or not eating and putting on weight.

“It was then I realised that it wasn’t the amount of food but the weather that was affecting the weight.

“The turkeys aren’t using calories to keep themselves warm and so are weighing heavier as it’s been very mild up until now.

“The weather has even been leading to late orders as it’s so mild, many people are forgetting to order the turkey.”

Chairman of the IFA (Irish Farmer's Association) Poultry Committee Andrew Boylan agreed that turkey lovers would have 'a little bit extra' on their plate this year.

"Earlier in the year, everyone was talking about the fodder crisis but on the upturn, the mild weather in the latter part of the year was good news to those who rear outdoor turkeys.

"The mild weather meant that the turkeys did exceptionally well this year and people can expect plumper turkeys so," he said.