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Tuesday 1 January 2013

Christmas Birds

Searching for a bird for Christmas started early in December for myself, I could of easily bought a bird from my local producer, but this time I wanted to see first hand the healthiness of our livestock markets.

My first trip out was to Melton Mowbray Market in Leicestershire, this was my first visit to this market.

This market is right in the town a small to medium size market with a rich variation of auctions including food stalls, antique and bric a brac, beef, sheep, pig and a poultry market with both live birds and dressed poultry along with a very active game market.

Next market I visited was Ross on Wye, this is a market I've visited many times when I used to live in Herefordshire, so I was really looking forward to returning to this little market and the town for some Christmas retail therapy.

Here we have a local farmer bringing in his turkeys to be sold by the local auctioneer.

The livestock show ring was full of dressed birds and here we can see the auctioneers listing all the birds whilst examining they are fit for sale and the best of them being awarded a First Prize certificate.

All the dressed birds have to be bagged now for display and for the sale as this is part of the good practice being enforced. However I did wonder will the birds sweat in these plastic covers and spoil, I think not for most people tend to understand that on getting your bird home you should then unwrap your bird and allow it to breath. Ensuring you cook it thoroughly and soon after purchase is a safe guard we must implement.

Before the sale starts, all the visitors can inspect the birds and choose one with which they want to bid on when the auction commences.

This sale had the best of all the birds I've seen so far and the prices reflected that when the bidding commenced. The geese were fetching as much as £75 each, the Cockerels £38 each, Ducks £33 each and Turkeys averaging £44 each. They were very good birds, well dressed and fault free of any other kind that I could see.

Now I'm at Sedgemoor Livestock Auction near Bridgwater in Somerset and they were birds laid out as far as you could see into the distance.

There were some good quality birds here to see, especially the cockerels, however the general overall lots were poorly dressed, including the long legged birds which apeared to have been dead far too long.

These Stag or Tom Turkeys pictured below looked some of the best on sale and yet they were only fetching around £1.50 llb a very poor price for the farmer given these birds were free range and sometimes organically reared.

Can anyone tell me why Stag Turkeys have this little wire brush on their throats? (I know the answer, but do you?)

Well I had a goose this year for Christmas a big one weighing 5.5kg making our Christmas meal special, it also kindly fed us on Boxing Day too and we had a curry the day after that with the rest, also I have a a 2ltr jar of goose fat to use in cooking over the coming weeks.

If you are not in touch with a local producer for your poultry then I urge you to visit and try out your local livestock auction when they next have a sale. It is a magical experience and one you can share with all members of your family.

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