Pierce McKevitt lives in Omeath, Co Louth, and began farming turkeys when he was only 11 years of age.
“My grandad gave me some land when I took an interest in farming around the age of 10,” he says.
On St Patricks Day of that year, Pierce’s grandad gave him a few pet lambs and chickens, and he started selling eggs to his family and neighbours.
The following year, Pierce decided to buy 24 turkeys for his farm because he realised no one else was selling turkeys in Omeath.
“The first year, I sold all of my turkeys to my family and a few other people in the parish,” he explains.
After this initial success, he used the money he made to buy 48 turkeys the following year and has kept expanding every year since.
Currently, Pierce has over one hundred turkeys and is busy looking after them before Christmas. Pierce is now 19 years old, studying agricultural science in college and running Ferryhill Farm by himself.
Pierce usually buys his turkeys when they are six-week-old chicks in the middle of August.
“When they come in as little chicks, I have to spend some time looking after them - showing them their water stations and where to get their food.
“Every year, I get two kinds of turkeys for my farm: white turkeys - which are larger - and bronze turkeys, which can be as small as 11 pounds,” he explains. According to Pierce, bronze turkeys are better for smaller families (for around two to three people) and white turkeys are best for larger families.
“I bring them out of their shed every morning before I leave for college and then bring them all back in the evening when I get home,” he tells Irish Farmers Journal Junior.
“It’s a lot of work, but I love doing it and love to see my turkeys have a nice life running around the farm,” he says. Coming towards Christmas, Pierce brings his turkeys to be processed in Co Meath, where a vet first conducts a health check on the flock. After being processed, he brings the turkeys back to his cold room and delivers the them as ordered to all his Christmas customers.
“Hand delivering my turkeys has always been important to me,” he explains. “Families are very busy around Christmas and don’t have time to queue for turkeys.”
Most of Pierce’s successes so far can be attributed to the hard work he puts in online to promote Ferry Hill Farm.
“I spend a lot of time making sure my pages are up to date so my customers can see where their turkeys are coming from,” he says.
“I have done a few courses on how to create good content for online and how to create a logo,” he adds.
Pierce currently sells his eggs to two local restaurants, but hopes to get his eggs into a few shops in the area. He also has larger plans to grow Ferryhill Farm by getting more turkeys, sheep and chickens when he finishes college. For now, Pierce’s top priorities are having happy and healthy animals on his farm and completing his college degree.