WITH this season to be jolly, most people will think of turkey.
Stuffed roast turkey is the hands down, unchallenged, middle-of-the-table dish for Westerners from Thanksgiving to Christmas, with a whopping 270mil birds served in America during the year-end festivities annually.
The tradition has spread to Malaysia and after decades of relying almost entirely on deep- frozen turkey from overseas, lovers of this healthy, lean meat can now look forward to Borneo Turkey, freshly dressed and grown in Kulim, Kedah.
A visit to the 1.6ha farm in Bandar Baru Putra Kulim offers an enlightening look at why this poultry meat is also staple for weight watchers and bodybuilders, who need a large protein intake minus the fat.
Two farm hands spend all day cutting about 300kg of high-protein napier or elephant grass from a 1.2ha meadow to feed the 6,000 Broad-Breasted White Nicholas turkeys living in a 0.4ha poly-tunnel enclosure.
“Grass can make up 70% of the diet of turkeys and also geese. The turkeys will not be fatty and this also keeps them from overheating in the tropical weather,” said Borneo Wood Dream Farm founder Ooi Say Tuan.
Ooi has been turkey farming in Sabah for about 15 years, exporting whole, fresh turkey to the Philippines.
But this Kedahan, who found his fortunes in the Land Below the Wind, has trouble shipping dressed turkeys to Peninsular Malaysia because of regulatory restrictions, so three years ago, he started bringing in day-old turkey chicks to rear them in Kedah.
“Imported turkey is deep-frozen for who knows how long.
“Our farm gives Malaysians fresh, tender turkey. We even harvest the birds at 10 weeks to make sure they won’t be old and tough,” said Ooi.
Cleaned and packed, Borneo Turkeys weigh around 6kg each, making an impressive sight compared with common broiler chickens.
Ooi’s passion for turkey is evident in his knowledge of not just how to rear these temperate weather birds in the tropics, but also how to prepare them for the dinner table.
“There are 27 distinct cuts to turkey meat. The cuts produce dark or white meats, rich or light flavours.
“The long turkey necks are especially good when cooked with Chinese herbs,” he said.
This entrepreneur, who also owns several other agriculture businesses, foresees a ‘turkey craze’ in the market with his farms in Kulim and Batang Kali, Selangor.
“With our farm-fresh turkey supply, restaurants and other food outlets will have a culinary ingredient that is both well-known and fresh,” he said.
To find out more about Borneo Turkey, contact Ooi (012-8785001) or look up the farm’s Facebook page Borneo Wood Dream Farm.