College To Donate Turkey To Salvation Army

Mon, 09/04/2001 - 01:00

Students at East Durham College have been busy rearing turkeys as part of their course and as a micro-business, but one bird grow so big he became too big for a domestic oven.

Meet George – a white turkey, who, for months, was destined for a family’s Christmas table. That was until he became too big.

So bosses at East Durham College’s Houghall Campus farm, near Durham City, have decided to donate him to the Salvation Army, to feed homeless people in Sunderland on Christmas Day.

Since arriving at Houghall in September, George has grown to a whopping 39lb - no featherweight!

Brenda Gray, a lecturer in land-based studies, credited George’s girth to her students’ good management.

“We collected the turkeys at the beginning of term,” she said.

“They’ve certainly grown since then and we’ve allowed them to be free range in a penned area. They’ve grown and grown and grown and some have ended up above 36lb.

“He is the largest turkey we’ve got. We thought he wouldn’t fit in a normal oven, so we wanted to give him to somewhere with a big commercial oven.

“George has ended up being the size he is because of our students’ good management and the food we’ve been feeding him. He’s liked the free-range environment.”

With Houghall turkey selling – mostly to college staff – at £5 a kilo, George would have been worth up to £90. But college bosses are just happy that he will now go to a good cause.

“Hopefully, he’ll help give some homeless people a really good Christmas – provide them with a nice, free-range lunch,” Mrs Gray said.

This is the first year Houghall has farmed turkeys – students have kept some poultry for a number of years.

As well as making use of empty farm buildings during winter, the initiative has helped trainees learn about animal husbandry, business, numeracy and marketing skills.

Some have also drawn up their favourite recipes. Turkeys were first brought to Britain from the US in 1526. Eating turkey at Christmas was made fashionable by Edward VII.

Ten million were sold in the UK last Christmas, with the average weight being 12lb.