22 Dec 2017

Talking Turkey

From Country Life, 9:40 pm on 22 December 2017
Kyle and Monique Smith

Kyle and Monique Smith Photo: RNZ Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

About 90 percent of the 200,000 turkeys farmed in New Zealand every year are eaten at Christmas time.

It's the busiest time of the year for Kyle and Monique Smith, who have taken over the Croziers Free-Range Turkey business near Ashburton from poultry pioneers Judith and Philip Crozier.

Kyle has ten years' experience working in the poultry industry and is continuing the free range farming approach that the Croziers established 50 years ago on the same 12 hectare property.

He is also adding his own touch to the operation that now breeds around 10,000 birds a year.

"Behind the scenes I'm definitely stamping my own mark on how the livestock are managed. Processing has changed a bit as well and we're changing the seasons so we can do fresh birds before Christmas," he says.

The turkeys are processed by Kyle and his brother at their MPI-approved plant in Ashburton.

"We get the birds in, bone them out. They'll go to different sized roasts, breast meat, plus we make schnitzel and prepare all the drums for the farmers' market".

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Photo: RNZ Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Monique swapped hairdressing and beauty therapy for life on the poultry farm.

She runs the business and marketing side of things and is strengthening their online presence.

Facebook is great way to tell their story to people who are not regular turkey eaters, she says.

"It's the day to day things that are going in. Everything you see on the Facebook page is us, it's photos of us and our birds on our farm more likely than not taken by us as well."

Kyle says business has been steadily growing.

"We're looking pretty good this year as far as sales go and demand for the mince is quite high as it's a healthier option as it's leaner than beef mince and it's got more protein in it."