A Scottish farm has drafted in two alpacas to help protect this year’s turkeys from predators as the all-important Thanksgiving and Christmas periods approach.
Craig Michie, who rears free-range bronze turkeys near Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, said the alpacas benefit both the farm environment and, ultimately, the flavour of the end product.
“The alpacas bring added security in warding off predators, allowing the turkeys to range further for a more varied diet,” said Mr Michie.
“The birds are free to roam as animals such as foxes, badgers and birds of prey are put off by the presence and smell of the alpacas.”
Named Valderrama and Higuita after the talismanic Columbian footballers, the alpacas typically stamp their feet and lower their heads if potential predators come too close.
“My daughter calls them the “pacas” and the whole family has become attached to them. But the main benefit is to the turkeys,” said Mr Mackie.
“The added security allows the turkeys to reach the game cover, brassicas and grasses on the boundaries of the farm. This diet helps to enhance the rich, gamey nuances of the bronzes.
“The turkeys are also fed on a home mix of cereals, including oats, which are full of antioxidants. This also gives the meat more depth in flavour and a beautiful, creamy-coloured finish.”
Mr Michie said his birds filled a gap in the market for high-quality, slowly-grown turkeys.