iN HOLIDAY: Here's why this Kamloops farmer's turkeys are so tasty | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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iN HOLIDAY: Here's why this Kamloops farmer's turkeys are so tasty

Tricia Sullivan owns Sullindeo Farm and Naturescapes Gardens in Kamloops.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Tricia Sullivan

It is a busy time of year for local poultry farmers as customers get ready for the holiday season.

Turkeys are the star of many tables at Christmas and an urban farm in Kamloops is working to meet the demand.

“We still have some turkeys available but they are going quick,” Sullindeo Farm and Naturescapes Gardens owner Tricia Sullivan said.

Hundreds of turkeys and chickens roam freely on Sullivan’s 10-acre farm among the grasses and mixed trees.

The process of raising the birds from chicks in the spring to harvest in the late fall is demanding and sometimes challenging but Sullivan is passionate about providing healthy, local food and raising animals humanely.

“Our birds don’t get the antibiotic that contained birds do,” she said. “They are not medicated and feed on non-GMO grains right from day one. The feed hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides. It's better quality. Their feed and water are hundreds of feet away so they have to exercise to get it. A bird raised more naturally has more muscle tissue and better meat.”

Sullivan usually gets the chicks in early May from the Okanagan and sometimes Abbotsford. This year she had to purchase from Alberta because of the avian flu threat. The B.C. Chicken and Turkey marketing board informed small poultry farm organizations earlier this year they would not be able to purchase birds in the province.

“Our birds are raised outside and the migratory birds were carrying the flu and spreading it all over the country,” Sullivan said. “Millions of birds were put down in the USA, but commercial farms with quotas were allowed to have their birds because they were in a contained environment.”

None of Sullivan’s birds ended up with the avian flu.

READ MORE: Bird flu fighters in B.C. face unprecedented challenge, as H5N1 spread across Canada

Bronze breasted Orlop Turkeys on Sullindeo Farm and Naturescapes Gardens in Kamloops.
Bronze breasted Orlop Turkeys on Sullindeo Farm and Naturescapes Gardens in Kamloops.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Tricia Sullivan

The spring chicks are started inside under warm brooder lights and are gradually introduced to the outdoors until moving outdoors permanently after their feathers have grown in.

They are slaughtered in October just in time for Thanksgiving and some of them are carried over for a few more weeks where they put on a few more pounds for a selection of sizes to go out for Christmas.

It can be a challenge for Sullivan to get her birds slaughtered, as there is not a big enough abattoir in Kamloops. She goes to the central Interior.

“It's hard because there are a lot of small farmers who raise birds,” she said. “There isn’t an abattoir here to take the birds to where they get government inspections, except a very small operation in Pritchard.”

Sullivan loads up her birds and heads to an abattoir and picks them up a few hours later as fresh, government inspected birds. 

“I don’t have them cut up so customers can get them fresh that same day,” she said. “Sometimes 40 customers will be waiting on my driveway when I get back.” 

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Sullivan was a landscaper with a passion for growing food but didn’t know anything about raising chickens and turkeys, and said “it just sort of happened.”

“There was a nice little barn for raising hens so I started by raising 40 chickens,” she said. “Then we had 200 of them, and then 1,000. I thought let’s do turkeys too.”

She now raises and harvests hundreds of birds every year and has hundreds of customers. She's currently getting one or two calls per day from customers looking for Christmas turkeys.

“Last year we got a call from a customer on Christmas Eve and we had one turkey left.”

Sullivan also grows hundreds of pounds of vegetables on her acreage and the family uses everything produced there. She's passionate about sustainable food systems, animal welfare, and growing organic food.

“I don’t believe a bird should be contained in a barn, it isn’t right.”

READ MORE: Merritt woman becomes Christmas tree farmer amid supply shortage

Her chickens and turkeys cost $7 per pound, a bit more than last year because the price of feed went up.

Turkeys have been appearing on Christmas tables since the ritual started in England in the 16th century. A popular belief is that King Henry VIII was the first to sit down and tuck into turkey on Christmas Day. The meat is rich in B vitamins and tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps make melatonin and serotonin for calming effects.

Click here for more information on the farm located at 680 Dairy Rd.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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