In 1526 an enterprising young trader called William Strickland imported six wild turkeys into England, and it was Henry VIII that made eating turkey at Christmas fashionable in the royal courts.  

Our Story Starts...
1971
Our Story Starts...

...in 1971 when my father Derek Kelly, a respected figure in the turkey industry, broke away from the corporate world to start the family business, known today as 'Kelly Turkeys' and 'Farmgate Hatcheries'.

Humble Beginnings
1971
Humble Beginnings

It all began in Danbury, Essex, with a plot purchased by my grandfather on his retirement, followed by this smallholding in Maldon.

The White Era
1971
The White Era

My father's goal in the 1970's was to produce and rear turkeys. He believed, and rightly so, that people would be prepared to pay more on Christmas Day for something genuinely better. As such, my parents set about breeding white turkeys for flavour and eating qualities.

The Leading Lady
1978
The Leading Lady

My Mother, Mollie Kelly, changed perceptions of how to cook turkey, demonstrating her revolutionary cooking methods to the press at home. She continued her quest to cook the ultimate turkey and her cooking demonstrations and talks were soon in demand nationwide. Turkey was our staple diet.

White Success
1979
White Success

Our white breeds were winning shows across the country for flavour, quality and meat texture, however, the onslaught of supermarkets with cheap frozen birds, alongside the demise of the butcher, meant that we were a fledgling business supplying a declining market - not a good place to be!

...The Revolutionary Years
1980s
...The Revolutionary Years

The dynamics of the market place were changing fast, London wholesale markets were oversupplied and the Christmas turkey market crashed. The first three years of the 1980's were the worst on record for Christmas turkeys and put our business into crisis - putting on a brave face and working hard was not going to save the business.

Our TV Debut
1981
Our TV Debut

We started to enter the world of television, as we were experts in our field. My parents, Mollie and Derek Kelly show how to truss a turkey on 'The Generation Game' - the BBC's No.1 game show on British TV.

A Gift to the Falklands
1982
A Gift to the Falklands

Sixty fertile turkey eggs were flown to the Falkland Islands to help restock the islands resources, as turkeys had completely disappeared during the war.

HATCHING A PLAN
1984
HATCHING A PLAN

In 1983 I studied poultry Science in Scotland and whilst driving home with my father at the end of term, we were discussing the traumas affecting our business. My mother had a always loved the rare breeds we kept so I suggested maybe we should differentiate ourselves from the loss-leading mass produced white turkeys, and begin breeding the original bronze turkey that originated from Mexico.

Designer stubble
1984
Designer stubble

The following year, my father travelled the country buying up the last remaining flocks of pure bronze turkeys. News about what we were doing soon spread amongst our farming friends - people thought we were crazy.
By the 1950's, Bronze turkey had almost completely been replaced by rapid growing, white feathered breeds that were considered to be more appealing on the supermarket shelf - at the expense of flavour.

Treading on egg shells
1986
Treading on egg shells

All may have looked rosy, but under the surface, things were very different. Maintaining a breeding farm is expensive, and whilst our bronze turkeys were making headlines, we weren't selling enough to make financial sense - the bank was getting very twitchy!
In our heart of hearts we knew that what we were doing was right.

Family Flock
1989
Family Flock

Working hard against adversity, we were not going to be beaten, and continued with our journey. This picture of my family featured in the Daily Telegraph.

Our first famous friend
1989
Our first famous friend

Delia Smith visited our farm in 1989 and we became the turkey of choice in her new book 'Delia's Christmas'. Suddenly, butchers were being asked by their customers for our KellyBronze turkeys. They were phoning in their droves - we could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Daredevils
1990
Daredevils

David Lidgate, the leading butcher in Holland Park, was our first customer - in my view, he is a visionary! We are getting a reputation of mavericks, and the press became interested in what we were doing.

Free Range Mavericks
1991
Free Range Mavericks

Not only were we introducing the bronze turkey back into the market, but we also started to grow them free-range. Our colleagues in the industry thought we were Maverick - and crazy!

Bred to be Wild
1992
Bred to be Wild

We were making headlines and our business was starting to grow. We purchased this redundant dairy farm, which had become the heart of our Christmas turkey operation.

We made it to No. 10
1994
We made it to No. 10

My parents, Derek & Mollie Kelly, presented a free range turkey to John Major, to be enjoyed by his family at home on Christmas day.

Father & Son Awarded
1995
Father & Son Awarded

Rupert Chalmers was a founder of the British Turkey Federation in 1951 and a pioneer of the British Turkey Industry. In 1977, after his death, the Rupert Chalmers Award was created for "Outstanding contribution and commitment to the turkey industry over a significant period."
My father Derek Kelly, received the award in 1995, and myself in 2007. We are the only father and son to be given this award.

Turkeys get HIPP in Germany
1997
Turkeys get HIPP in Germany

1997 was the start of organically farming our specialist breed in Germany with my very good friends Henk Coolen and Martin Bohn.

Britains Best
1997
Britains Best

"The KellyBronze turkey is the perfect example of Speciality British Food with great attention paid to quality and flavour" BBC Good Food magazine

We made it to the palace
1998
We made it to the palace

"Turkey Producer Derek Kelly received an MBE from the Queen for services to the farm fresh Poultry Industry. A life long champion of traditional farm fresh turkeys and known for reintroducing the bronze turkey." World Poultry

Organic for the prince
2001
Organic for the prince

We were proud to be appointed by Prince Charles' Organic food brand, Duchy Originals, to farm their Christmas Turkeys.

Its a pleasure going to work everyday
2004
It's a pleasure going to work everyday

"KellyBronze turkeys are the best of the best, the most joyful treat. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a KellyBronze turkey." - Jamie Oliver

A New Chapter
2004
A New Chapter

When I officially took over the helm of the turkey business, my father Derek Kelly embarked on a beef enterprise - Derek Kelly Beef

A record breaking highlight... or two!
2008/9
A record breaking highlight... or two!

2008 Guinness world record for plucking, televised on Gordon Ramsay's Christmas Special

2009 Guinness world record for carving, set at the KellyBronze 25th Birthday party.

Awarded
2011
Awarded

The KellyBronze was the first turkey to receive three gold stars in the Great Taste Awards.

Theres a doctor in the house
2012
There's a doctor in the house

I was granted an Honorary Doctorate Degree by College Patron Alan Titchmarsh on behalf of the University of Essex, in recognition of my services to the agricultural industry.

Spreading our wings
2014
Spreading our wings

We brought a farm in the foothills of the Blueridge mountains in Virginia, with woodland and pasture for rearing our unique KellyBronze turkeys for the U.S. market. We dry-pluck, hang and prepare birds in the same was we produce KellyBronze in the UK.

Celebrating 30 Years
2014
Celebrating 30 Years

To celebrate our 30th birthday, we took a group of our friends, customers and press to the woods, to party with the turkeys.

Dont overcook it!
2015
Don't overcook it!

After years of telling you not to over cook your turkey...we overcooked our farm!

"We will be ready for Christmas!" - Paul Kelly

...18 WEEKS LATER AND A HUGE AMOUNT OF HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS
2015
...18 WEEKS LATER AND A HUGE AMOUNT OF HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS

With hard work and the help of many, we were ready for Christmas, amazingly, 18 weeks after the fire. Thank you to everyone that made it possible.

THE KBXS BRED TO BE EXTRA SMALL
2016
THE KBXS BRED TO BE EXTRA SMALL

We launched the smallest breed of turkey in the world, bred by us for a small Christmas gathering, so that nobody has to miss out on the whole bird experience. Half the size and all the flavour.

FEDERAL USDA LICENSE
2017
FEDERAL USDA LICENSE

We were granted a license from the United States Department of Agriculture to sell our wares in the USA. Walking the streets of New York takes me back 30 years when I first started doing this in London.

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Kelly Bronze Turkey