Champion turkey farmer loses title to Irish plucker and Guinness Book of Records holder

Paul Kelly, turkey plucker - beaten in a high-speed contest

Paul Kelly, turkey plucker - beaten in a high-speed contest - Credit: submitted

Two champion turkey pluckers went head-to-head to determine which is the most worthy to hold the title – and it was Irishman Vincent Pilkington who came out on top.

He holds the Guinness Book of Records title as the fastest plucker of a single turkey while Essex farmer and turkey breeder Paul Kelly has the record for the fastest to pluck three turkeys.

A champion-of-champions pluck off was held. It took place at Paul's home near Howe Green, Chelmsford, where two 17lb white hen turkeys were plucked by each contestant. Vincent won in a time of 11 minutes 8.33 seconds — with Paul finishing 33 seconds behind.

Expressing his delight at winning the challenge, Vincent wasn't surprised the plucking time was a lot slower than his Guinness record time of only one minute 30 seconds for a single turkey recorded on RTE television back in 1980.

'Remember I'm retired now but I still like to keep my hand in helping local farmers with plucking their turkeys at Christmas around where I live at Cootehill in County Cavan — and it paid off today,' said Vincent.

Mr Kelly congratulated the champion whom he first met when they competed in the world plucking championships in Sussex in the early 1980s and again when he used to help Kelly Turkeys with plucking during the 1990s.

n Specialist traditional turkey strains will be featured on the firm's stand at the British Pig & Poultry Fair, Stoneleigh, on May 13 and 14.

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'Our selection criteria for all of our lines has a very clear order of play,' said managing director Mr Kelly. 'First is perfect skeletal formation and excellent walking ability, then eating quality, and finally meat yield and conformation.

'We continually compare our breeds with regular supermarket breeds. The large strain female is cheaper to produce in every way when cost per kg of liveweight is the measurement. But when meat yield and flavour are taken into account, the answers are very different.

'In our test a 4.7kg Super Mini female had a staggering 51pc more breast meat than the large industrial female.'