Buying a turkey is a shopping trip in itself, particularly if it’s the centrepiece for your table, you will want a perfectly shaped bird with good meat yield and a touch of fat in the skin. No matter where the bird will feature in your meal, you want quality meat.

Judy Leadoux, a turkey farmer from Leadoux Turkeys in Bairnsdale, Gippsland says it doesn’t matter whether a bird is fresh or frozen when purchased. “We freeze our birds the same day they are slaughtered and put the date they were frozen on them, so customers know what they’re buying,” she explains.

Leadoux Turkeys started in 1982, “as a hobby with 100 birds,” Judy tells and they now have 4500 birds, “but this is very small compared to the big companies.”

This is advantageous to the quality of the meat as the focus on the free range birds is more concentrated and they are fed a combination of pellets and grass, “although they’ve eaten nearly all of the grass,” she laughs, and are slaughtered on the property. “They aren’t stressed when we slaughter them,” she explains, “they aren’t trucked anywhere but are walked from the paddock to the plant, we look after our birds,” she says.

Leadoux sell birds up to 15kg in size, which isn’t common in commercial birds, the largest usually being around 8kg. “We don’t sell under 4kg, they just don’t have the finish on them that they should,” she explains. By finish, Leadoux means the touch of extra fat, “they get a gloss on their feathers, they look ready.”

Female turkeys (hens) are great for shape but for meat, particularly as they grow, the male (or tom) turkey is the best choice.

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This holiday season seek out turkeys from farmers who know their birds and have the time to notice the gloss on the feathers or how eaten down the grass is. It’s Christmas time after all.

Leadoux Turkeys are available at:

Belgrave Meats
1667 Burwood Highway, Belgrave
(03) 9754 2371

Eddie The Butcher
29 Mason Street, Newport
(03) 9391 3365

Kerrimuir Quality Meats
521 Middleborough Road, Box Hill North
(03) 9890 7415

Lockies Butchers
307 Waverley Road, East Malvern
(03) 9571 5698

Norm's Main St Meats
135 Main Street, Pakenham
(03) 5941 1031

Farmers Markets:

Abbottsford (twilight Christmas only)
Gasworks South Melbourne