Home' Smart Farmer : Dec 2014 - Jan 2015 Contents Smart turkeys
December 2014/January 2015
farm plans pan out
By PAULA THOMPSON
WHEN Murray Bridge
farmer John Holland was
considering the type of
primary production to undertake on
his 14-hectare property 10 years ago,
he knew it had to be intensive.
Turkeys to him made the most
sense to maximise productivity and
Mr Holland sells through his own
brand, Almond Grove Free Range
He runs about 4000 birds at a
stocking rate of 500 to 1ha, which
gives them ample space to move
around and forage.
Mr Holland buys in day-old tur-
keys from Inghams in NSW which
are flown into SA. Once they are
brought on-farm, they are kept in a
hay bale shed.
He says good pastures are key to
getting the most out of his turkeys,
and finds that they grow better on
quality crops such as wheat and
The birds can get aggressive and if
not kept engaged, start to peck each
To avoid this, Mr Holland uses a
forage harvester to collect crops and
leave them on the ground so the
turkeys can feed through the large
pile and stay occupied.
"The birds will bare paddocks
pretty quickly, so using the material
from the forage harvester is a good
way to stop them doing that," he said.
"Provided you feed your turkeys
good feed, then their management is
not too bad.
"You also need a larger area so the
weaker ones can get away if they're
getting picked on."
Ridley AgriProducts makes specific
feed rations for Mr Holland, which he
buys in three-tonne lots.
The turkeys receive the Ridley feed
until they are four weeks old, after
which Almond Grove mixes its own
"We have a couple of roller mills
and mixers to do the work with," Mr
The on-farm feed is predominantly
wheat, peas and a bit of soy.
"We use a meal pack from Lienerts
Who: John Holland
Business: Almond Grove
Products: Free-range turkeys
John Holland, Murray Bridge, with his Maremma Sheba, a guardian dog for his
Almond Grove Free Range
Turkeys are given ample
space to move around and
with essential vitamins and minerals
and put one in with each tonne," he
Mr Holland said the Almond Grove
turkeys received no antibiotics or
The property has worked with
organic certification for the past
10 years and last year, received the
Humane Choice accreditation -- the
only farm in Australia with the
"One of our main marketing advan-
tages is that we're a true free-range
enterprise," Mr Holland said.
The business has predominantly
grown through word-of-mouth
marketing, with turkeys sold to
butcher shops in Adelaide, Sydney,
Melbourne and Hobart.
Mr Holland said starting a tur-
key enterprise was not too capital
"It's not that hard, you just need to
set up really good fencing," he said.
"The day-old birds we get from
the Inghams hatchery are really good
quality, so they're starting off healthy."
This season, birds at the Almond
Grove farm have grown rapidly,
driven by weather conditions.
"With the strong winds we've had
they've tended to huddle near the
food and eat more," he said.
The birds are sold in weights from
four kilograms to 12kg, but 6kg is the
Turkeys can put on up to 1kg
a week, depending on seasonal
Almond Grove turkeys are proc-
essed at a plant in Kapunda. The birds
are taken at night and processed the
November onwards is the busiest
time of the year on the farm.
Mr Holland had 4000 birds on the
property in early November and at
that time, was using up to 2t of feed
"From a feed-conversion perspec-
tive, turkeys are second only to pigs,"
"When it comes to cholesterol,
turkeys are second only to deer, so
they're a very healthy meat."
While more people were eating
turkey, it accounted for only two per
cent of the meat consumed in SA,
while it was 1pc in other states.
On the ideal area to grow poultry,
Turkeys are naturally inquisitive birds.
he said Murray Bridge ticked the box
with its sandy, well-drained soils.
Protection from predators is crucial
to maintaining turkey numbers.
Almond Grove, about 1km from
the Murray River, is a haven for foxes.
To protect the birds, Mr Holland
runs the Maremma breed of dog
which he says make "excellent"
"Maremmas do a fantastic job, we
have six of them on farm," he said.
Each year in February, Mr Holland
takes all turkeys off the property to
give it a spell and to try and break any
"I won't bring turkeys back on to
the farm until June or July, and this
gives me a chance to get pastures
established," he said.
Turkey meat is frozen so regular
customers are still catered for during
the period when they are off the farm.
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