Jim Strathern, who has been producing Christmas turkeys for more than 50 years, has been elected chairman of the Anglian Turkey Association (ATA). Strathern has been an ATA member for more than 20 years.

The Strathern family began farming at Heath Farm, Birch, in 1930 when his parents moved from Ayrshire to Essex, England, and he started the turkey business in 1959. 

The farm produces turkeys for local customers and local butchers. “During this period the retail trade has gone from selling all long-legged birds to the public to now all oven-ready and cut-up birds,” said Strathern. “The emphasis has always been on the Christmas trade and maintaining the highest possible standard of quality.”

Strathern has also served as chairman of Colchester branch of the National Farmers’ Union and of Colchester Agricultural Club.  

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The Strathern family farms some 1300 acres in arable rotation and are now best known for potato growing, processing and crisp manufacturing. The family also runs Birch Airfield Composting Services, set up to recycle garden waste collected by Essex County Council.

The new vice chairman of ATA is Martin Shea, who joined the turkey industry in 1966 with Lancashire Turkeys. After graduating from Harper Adams University College in 1970, Shea joined British United Turkeys (BUT) as a management trainee.

In 1987 Shea was appointed in 1987 as managing director of BUT, a position he held for 21 years. In 2008, he went on to establish Hockenhull Turkeys at Attleborough, Norfolk, as a producer and seller of premium quality turkey poults for the traditional farm fresh market.