In 1948 Harry Hayter decided to start raising turkeys as part of his farm, and as the business slowly grew, since 1960s Hayter’s Farm had been a turkey-only affair. Hayter’s Turkey Farm (the agricultural farm), Hayter’s Turkey Products Inc. (the processing facility), and Hayter’s Farm (the brand and retail operation) all operate at the same address in Dashwood, Ont. Run by Harry Hayter’s children and grandchildren, this farm-to-fork operation delivers around 150,000 turkeys to the Canadian market every year.
THE FARM became provincially inspected and approved plant in the 1980s, and federally inspected plant in the 1990s. The farm is a member of the Ontario Independent Meat Processors (OIMP), a non-profit organization that represents Ontario’s meat and poultry processors, retailers and wholesalers. The farm is also a member of the Turkey Farmers of Ontario, which represents 185 turkey farmers across the province, and ensures humane treatment and care for the turkeys, and safe, high quality food for consumers.
Hayter’s Farm continues to improve the lives of the birds from poults (young turkey fowls) to the full grown birds with a singular goal of raising premium quality turkey, and abiding by the good old business strategy called quality. Today, Hayter’s Farm turkey comes to our tables in the form of the traditional holiday bird, but also as a turkey prepared with care by the Hayter family for everyday consumption, offering cuts of tender turkey breast, burgers, sausages, and more.
The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Joanne Maguire, the President and daughter of Harry Hayter, and Sean Maguire, Operations Manager and grandson, the heralds of the Hayter’s Farm turkey tradition.
Care for the birds has been the No. 1 priority at Hayter’s Farm since day 1, and the farm continues to look after the birds from the day they are hatched to the day they are prepared for the market. “As in any animal husbandry, it’s mostly about managing the turkeys. It’s about constant monitoring. My father even learned to discern any issues by listening to the birds in the barn, and he passed this knowledge to his son, my brother Tom, and he’s passing it on to the third generation, his son Justin,” says Joanne Maguire.
The care goes a long way in the turkey farming, from the right amounts of quality feed and water, to proactively checking and controlling the water and the feeders several times a day. According to Sean Maguire, if the birds stop drinking, they consequently stop eating, and that’s usually for a reason. The proactive approach allows the farm to find and address any potential issue such as illness, and take appropriate measures.
“Turkeys require a low stress life to grow efficiently and safely, so there is always someone looking after the birds at every stage of the growth. That’s what differentiates us from the competition. We are not a generic farm, we truly take care looking after the needs of the turkey.
“All the decisions we make – feed, environmental settings, biosecurity, etc. – all these decisions are made for the welfare of the bird, and to make the best product possible. It’s not driven by the bottom dollar, but by producing the best quality product,” says Sean Maguire.
The traditional consumer approach of consuming turkey as a holiday meal rather than a dietary staple has become increasingly challenged by the customer demand. Turkey offers consumers an alternative to other meats, and provides a low fat / high protein option to the increasingly health cautious consumer, but the consumer expects the meat aisle to provide alternatives to the purchase of a whole bird. Hayter’s Farm has been responsive to this, and launched its own line of turkey products.
“We have always been in the whole-bird business, delivering fresh quality turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas to our local Southwestern Ontario market. Over the past 10 years, we have expanded that business by our production, offering a more diverse line of turkey product such as sausages, burgers, deli meats, and so on. Our market has expanded and we deliver products as far as Ottawa and across the country,” says Sean Maguire.
Hayter’s Farm offers wide variety of turkey products, and also has a retail operation present on the farm, always looking out for the needs of its customers.
“We are very customer oriented. We always talk to the customer directly, and work with them to help and provide solutions. We promote the idea of listening to the customer,” says Joanne Maguire.
The Hayter family continues to increase farm efficiencies, improve turkey processing capabilities, and invent new products that may entice the consumer. The consumer behaviour continues to favour turkey as a protein source of choice, and Hayter’s Farm’s is well-positioned to capitalize on this development.