For many years we’ve worked with the amazing Judy Leadoux over at Leadoux Free Range Turkeys. When you buy a Leadoux bird, you know that you’re getting the highest welfare, highest quality free range turkey available, so with Judy heading into retirement this year, it was really important to us to find an equally amazing turkey supplier for Christmas 2020 and beyond.
This year we are so excited to introduce our brand new free range turkey supplier Pooginagoric Free Range Turkeys! This family run farm is truly a special operation, with 30 years of free range turkey farming experience under their belts, John and Robyn Watson really are the turkey experts.
Pooginagoric Free Range Turkeys is located just south of Bordertown in the Tatiara district of South East South Australia. The name Tatiara is said to mean "the good country", a phrase which dates back to the area's first inhabitants, the Bodaruwitj people. As rich and fertile country, it certainly lives up to its name. John and his family have lived in this spot for generations so it’s safe to say he knows his stuff when it comes to farming in the area. Pooginagoric birds begin their lives as day old hatchlings (known as poults) - delivered to the farm where they are cared for under the watchful eyes of John and Robyn right up until the time they are processed and delivered to our stores. John says what’s unique about his farm is that “everything aside from the hatchling is done by ourselves. We grow them on our farm and have our own processing plant, so there’s no stress from the turkeys being put in crates or shipped across Australia or anywhere else. It’s less than 10 minutes from the time they leave the paddocks to when they’re at our factory. A lot of people say that our turkeys are the best they’ve ever had, but really, we’ve got no tricks up our sleeves, it’s just the fact that everything is done on-farm with no stress to the birds.”
The turkeys at Pooginagoric have ample room to roam, and are free to forage for grubs and insects on top of their regular feed. According to John “they just roam around like sheep, moving to different paddocks, pecking around; they like being out.” Their feed is sourced from a local South Australian mill that has been supplying farmers for over 100 years - “There’s no hormones or antibiotics in the feed, it’s just a balanced diet. We work in conjunction with nutritionists all the time to keep the diets up to spec so that they perform at their absolute best. It’s a well balanced, wheat based feed.”
Another thing that sets Pooginagoric apart from their conventional turkey counterparts is their attention to detail. Because they are small scale producers, John says “we’ve got more time for attention to detail. That’s one of the biggest differences is that our plant is small enough to have a really good idea of what’s happening all the time.”
The Pooginagoric farm is filled with native trees like Bluegums and Redgums, which provide shade for the birds when they’re out in the paddocks. “In the summer they spend a lot of time in the shade. We have sprinklers going in the summertime to keep them cool.” John and Robyn have a no waste mindset, finding ways to put back into and maintain the health of the native landscape. Although they planted many trees in the early days, John says a huge amount of native trees have popped up on their own, drawing from the effluent water from the farm - “Our effluent water goes down into a pond and on the way down it goes past River Redgums which we planted to use up a lot of the effluent water. In fact, where the effluent water goes, there’s been a massive amount of native trees growing on their own - within a few years I’ve got a forest down there that you can barely walk through that have just come up on their own.” Because of the way the farm is run, Pooginagoric also have a very small carbon footprint, something John and Robyn are very proud of.
Pooginagoric Turkeys, although a hidden gem to those of us here in the city, have a big reputation in their area. We think it speaks volumes about the quality of these turkeys that each year Pooginagoric sells out of birds on word of mouth alone - in fact they’ve never spent a cent on advertising! These birds are so sought after that each year John and his team actually have to knock back orders - so, needless to say, we are incredibly fortunate to be able to source some of Australia’s finest turkeys from these guys.
On top of his 30 years of experience, John is actually the President of the Australasian Turkey Federation, so naturally we had to ask him for his best turkey cooking tips! John told us that although many people who only tackle turkey once a year find it a bit daunting, it’s easier than you think! “I strongly advise people when cooking any sort of meat, including turkey, to buy a meat thermometer. You can do all sorts of things - hotter or colder, fan forced or conventional, but if you just put a probe in, it tells you exactly. That’s what I do; it’s just foolproof. They are terrific and you get years and years of use out of them.” Insert the meat thermometer deep into the thickest part of the breast and remove the turkey from the oven when the breast hits between 67-70 degrees. Cover it with foil to slow the rate of cooling and rest for 30 minutes before carving. During this resting period, the internal temperature of the breast will rise up a few more degrees past 70.
So there you have it! We hope this has given you some insight into why we are so excited to be offering Pooginagoric Turkeys this year (and for many years to come). These guys are the absolute real deal - the best kind of old school farming, with the highest degree of care and compassion, and products that speak for themselves. We can’t wait for you to try them!