BQ speaks to Craig Michie, owner of Barra Bronzes, to talk turkey (sorry) about his poultry farming business, welfare, and why the t-word is banned in his house at weekends.
What did you do before you started this business?
I studied surveying and town planning at University and then worked as a town planner. I then lived out in South America for two years where I met my Colombian wife. We then decided together that we wanted to return to the family tradition of farming and start Barra Bronzes.
What inspired you to start up?
I wanted to return to the family tradition of farming and follow my passion for fine food. I always found it difficult to find really top quality poultry.
Tell us about your business in 100 words
Our turkeys are grown outdoors, very slowly and in high welfare conditions in the idyllic setting of our farm.
We process our turkeys by hand on our farm to ensure minimum stress to the animal. This also enhances the quality of the end product. Our turkeys are oven ready and come beautifully packaged in a box which tells the story of how the bird is reared. Each turkey comes with cooking instructions and a pop-up thermometer. We sell directly to the customers and also to restaurants/delis and butchers.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
Grandma, we rear our birds the old traditional way, for the fullest flavour. This is how you probably did it!
Where do you get advice, support or help?
I get most of my advice from Agricultural consultants (SAC), Opportunity North East and other poultry farmers. We also work with the Grampian Chamber of Commerce, though intuition, family and friends are also great supports.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
I received money from the New Entrants New Capital Grants scheme. My hard working partner and I also had some savings. We were lucky that we had the land and building on the farm to start off the company. From there we just kept on reinvesting in the business.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Winning the double gold star ‘great taste award’ and also the Grampian Innovation Food Awards. We have also been nominated for the 2017 North East Scotland Food & Drink Awards ‘Most Successful Product’ award from the 2016 category. The awards will be announced on the 30th of March.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
Our birds are the slowest grown in the country, fed only on the cereals that we grow on our farm while roaming free. All of this gives them the fullest flavour.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
It is very hard to switch off and your work can follow you everywhere. The word ‘turkey’ is banned in our household on Saturdays and Sundays.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
We really look to expand the business organically and supply the product nationwide. We also produce beautiful game hung turkey burgers which we will be cooking up and selling at summer festivals for people to enjoy.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Always have belief in what you do, even through hard times, and don’t give up. The road is never straight forward. I think you have to be enthusiastic, optimistic and passionate to succeed.