Geese 'an excellent way into farming' - says new chairman.

Published 3 May 2013

The new chairman of British Goose Producers is John Franklin who has been rearing geese for Christmas on his farm in Bedfordshire for the past 25 years. He succeeds Eddie Hegarty, of Norfolk Geese, who has been chairman for the past three years.

The farm is unusual in having a wide mix of enterprises — from poultry to pigs and cattle — and particularly in selling all the produce through a farm shop or local markets.

John began with 25 geese in 1987 and expanded this to 1400, but now concentrating on direct retail sales he rears 600 mainly for Christmas. He also retains a flock of 40 laying geese producing eggs for the increasing demand during the spring and summer at farmers’ markets as well as the shop.

The 150-acre Trumpetons Farm at Thorncote, near Sandy, is run on the lines of a traditional family farm with 70 acres of cereals and 80 acres of grass shared between 100 breeding ewes, 30 head of cattle, 90 pigs and the free range poultry — 100 ducks, 300 laying hens, 1600 chickens and 1250 turkeys.

The retail activity has been expanded to such an extent that the business employs three butchers and five other staff involved inthe shop and markets.

John has been BGP vice chairman for the past three years and a council member since 2003. His sister Blanche Walker, who has been involved particularly in developing sales at the farmers’ markets, has been a BGP member since 1997.

John regards goose production as an excellent way to get into farming. “The cost of set up is relatively low and you can start small and expand relatively quickly,” he said. “The most important thing is to establish your market first and to try and get plenty of advice.

“Advice is readily available to our members, so I would recommend coming to our annual farm walk in the autumn and meeting members to swap ideas and get information on all aspects of goose production from rearing to slaughter and marketing. I’m also at the end of a telephone to help new members with problems they might encounter and for any advice on starting up.”  
John Franklin