KellyBronze Turkey Farm

Address: 6975 Jarmans Gap Road
Crozet, VA  22932

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Phone: (540) 724-1654
Categories: Farm

Kelly Bronze is a business in Crozet is run by Judd Culver. It is located on a farm called Heritage Glen Farm. Foodwaze has visited the farm and you can read a full description under the Details tab. Here is an overview of the farm:

• Animals raised: Heritage breed Kelly Bronze turkeys.

• Living Environment: The animals are raised outdoors. They live in a field surrounded by wooded hills and they are bred to their natural cycle. This means they are hatched in May and allowed to grow for six months. That makes them ready just in time for Thanksgiving. 

• Animal Diets: The forage in the fields for bugs, worms, and grass. They are supplemented with grain.  

• Grazing Methods: This turkeys graze in pastures and due to the limited density and the fact that no other livestock are grazing in these pastures, they have a chance to regenerate for the next season.

• Other Practices: There are NO chemicals, biosolids, hormones, or sub-therapeutic antibiotics used on the farm. At this time, we are not aware of the source of the grain they use as a supplement feed. 

• Other Products in the Store: Turkeys, that’s it! No other products are sold.

Other things to know about this Place:

• This farm began operations in 2015, but the KellyBronze is a brand that dates back to the early 1970s. It was at that time that a man name Derek Kelly began resurrecting the genetics of the heritage breed Bronze turkey.

• The KellyBronze has been available in Europe ever since, but it wasn’t until Judd Culver got involved that it became more freshly available in the US. 

• You can order a turkey on their website and pick it up at the farm or at various retail locations, some of which are listed on Foodwaze. You can connect to those Places through the Kelly Bronze listing under the Sources tab.

This listing was compiled using the following processes:

• A site visit

• Discussion with staff

• Other research

KellyBronze turkey farm is located in Crozet, Virginia, about 20 minutes west of Charlottesville, in an area known as Greenwood. The actual name of the farm itself is call Heritage Glen Farm. It is nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is where they raise a heritage breed turkey known as the KellyBronze, once a year year.

The 100+ acre farm is run by Judd Culver who has a master’s degree in animal and poultry science from Virginia Tech. He has also worked extensively in the poultry industry, most recently in the field of nutrition where he has been helping livestock businesses around the world transition away from the use of antibiotics.

It was his wife Cari’s work, however, that indirectly connected him to the world of free-range heritage turkeys. Cari, who has a Ph. D. in microbiology, was doing post-doctoral work in Scotland, and Judd used that time to call on the Kelly family, which has been collecting the genetics of American heritage breed turkeys in an effort to resurrect a dying breed. Heritage breeds of all types of animals have suffered at the hands of mass industrialization of the livestock industry.

According to The Livestock Conservancy, the Bronze turkey originated from crosses between domestic turkeys brought by European colonists to the Americas and the eastern wild turkeys they found in the New World. The Bronze variety was bred in the US for hundreds of years but by 1960 was replaced by the Broad Breasted White turkey which was bred for mass scale industrial production.

In 1971, a man named Derek Kelly in England began collecting the genetics of the Bronze and breeding it to reintroduce its natural characteristics, which include slow growth and ability to be raised completely outdoors. He branded his bird the KellyBronze and has been breeding it in England every since, under the leadership of his son Paul.

Culver’s farm now re-connects the KellyBronze to its place of origin. After buying the Crozet property, he replicated the Kelly’s model and raised his first flock in 2015. For starters, they adhere strictly to the turkey’s natural breeding cycle. The chicks are hatched in May and given six months to grow. This is dramatically different from the industrial turkey model where chicks are hatched at all times of the year and bred to grow fast... sometimes as quickly as eight weeks. Allowing an animal to grow at its natural weight allows the meat the best chance to develop its nutritional vitality.

The setting for Culver’s birds is a flatland surrounding by wooded hills on all sides. The area is fenced off to keep predators out and guarded by two llamas. But it’s the natural cover that provides the most protection. Culver’s field is blanketed with wildflowers and high vegetation that makes it difficult for aerial predators to attack.

Once the chicks are hatched in an indoor brooder and grow to a healthy size, they are let loose in the field where they are free to forage on a rich diet of grubs, worms, frogs, berries, grass, and weeds. They are even free to fly away, but they generally don’t, says Culver, because they know they have it pretty good. Their diet is supplemented with a ration of corn and soybeans. 

The birds are bred to grow to a certain size and are only processed when they reach full maturity and are ready to eat. The birds are processed on the farm and hand plucked, without the use of water. Wet pluckering is the more common practice, and is much quicker, but according to Culver the dry method preserves taste, prevents bacteria, and also eliminates the smell often associated with mass poultry processing. Furthermore, the KellyTurkeys are dry-aged for about 10-14 days, another practice uncommon to industrial production. Dry-aging further preserves the taste and texture, according to Culver.

KellyBronze Turkey Farm products can be found at these Foodwaze verified locations: