Moon Ridge Farm is ‘Dedicated to Poultry’.
Situated in the heart of Devon just outside Exeter
We are a family farm breeding and supplying poultry for everyone,
small holders, hobby or commercial ventures.
We are passionate about poultry and have a great deal of experience in all aspects of their husbandry.
We breed and supply at the farm :-
We can guide you through the minefield of information, having an abundance of knowledge and experience about all the breeds we have at the farm.
We offer free simple advice prior to and for the life of your purchase. Having come from a farming family and kept poultry for all his life our business has grown and evolved because of Merv and now his families love of all things poultry.
We welcome all new poultry enthusiasts, whether you are looking for a single bird or many we are happy to assist ,and will spend as much time as you require choosing your birds and getting the answers to all your questions . We want to make sure when you leave here with your birds you are confident in all aspects of caring for your new birds. Whilst here at the farm you will be able to see how best to keep your birds in the various paddocks and enclosures we have here .
We have lots of birds here for you to choose from , hundreds of chickens
~ a mixture of hybrids , traditional breeds and bantams .
We have the largest collection of water fowl in the southwest and are the Largest breeders of quail in the South West of England.
We sell every thing from hatching eggs to oven ready geese for Christmas and quail eggs for the table .
During our opening hours we always have a poultry specialist here on the farm
We have a well stocked shop stocking all your poultry needs and more . We have a range of locally made traditional housing as well as a range of the more modern plastic type . We stock feed , feeders , drinkers , bedding and lots more .Our prices are competitive and we sell all you need for any of the poultry we sell here including many types of housing which are all on display.
Buying our Birds
We are a working farm and whilst there is a work force here daily during the hours we are not open we are working else where on the farm. Early mornings prior to opening all the stock has to be fed , watered and checked with any small maintenance issues being dealt with as well as egg collection , setting and packing so please respect our opening times. We also want to ensure you are met by our poultry and livestock team who are only available on our opening days.
The team here at Moon Ridge
Merv ( the bird man)
It is Merv’s passion for poultry that led to the creation of Moon Ridge Farm 10 years ago. Prior to that Merv was based at the Devon shire Traditional Breed Center for many years , helping set the center up and keeping his own collection of birds there. Having always worked in farming and having always kept a wide variety of poultry it was a natural progression for Merv when having the opportunity to expand his growing business to create Moon Ridge Farm
Merv’s wife who has worked alongside Merv since the early days , from a catering and business back ground Kate steers the ‘ship’ and is the office and retail manger , answering calls , managing the web site and is usually your first port of call when contacting us.
Animal care trained with lots of hands on experience , working in all weathers and tackling all task on the farm.Caitlin has great chicken catching skills and can advise you on all aspects of the domestic breeds here on the farm. In charge of all domestic sales and supervising volunteers students and our part time team.
Agriculturally trained, Joe is our newest member of the team , taking care of the day to day needs of our quail , egg collecting , feeding and cleaning out are his main duties along with tractor driving and strimming are amongst his favorite activities
Will and Meg.
Will is great with the chickens and ducks and Megan loves giving tours of the farm , and can tell you some great ‘stories’ of happenings here at the farm.
We would be lost with out our weekend/holiday workers George and Beth. George at school and Beth studying to be at vet .
Early days at Moon Ridge written 2008
Moon Ridge Farm is Poultry and Waterfowl Business Based in Devon, it has a customer base from all over the UK sending live birds via specialist courier service and posting hatching eggs. Customers are welcome to the farm by appointment.
2004 saw the ‘birth’ of ‘Moon Ridge Farm’ though for the first eighteen months it was only known as ‘the land’, it took this long to come up with what is really the most obvious name being that it is the highest ridge over the village of Half Moon. Lying only 2 miles west of Exeter with the entrance right on the busy A377, come through the gate and gradually climb to the ridge and it is hard to believe you are so close to such a busy city.
We are lucky to have such a huge variety of wildlife here, we have red, fallow, roe and muntjac deer ~ the muntjac being very rare in this area. The first three we see on a regular basis. We have a small but stable population of rabbits and squirrels, which produce a welcome addition to the pot each autumn. The foxes and badgers are regularly seen and are welcome as long as they play by the rules and stay on the ‘right ‘side of the fence! A look around the paddocks this autumn confirms that the moles seem to have had an excellent breeding season, its all grazing here so as long as they stay off the lawn they too are more then welcome
Wildlife has always held a fascination for me and I feel privileged to live on such a small area and witness such diversity. The swallows nested in our barn for the first time last year and succeeded in raising three broods there this year. I spent two hours one afternoon last summer watching a pair of kingfishers teaching their four youngsters how to catch young rudd in our largest pond. Last winter a flock of over a 100 gold finches spent several weeks feeding in our wildlife area. buzzards, kestrels and sparrow hawks we see almost daily, tawny, barn and little owls are regulars. Though peregrines I have seen several times and a goshawk twice. A little grebe paid a visit last year and I have seen wigeon here the last two years, woodpeckers both green and spotted, cuckoos in the spring and summer and woodcock in the autumn and winter.
The 37 acres were divided into five grass fields grazed tight to every corner when we first arrived with neatly trimmed hedges. I am sure eye brows were raised more then once when local farmers saw us digging up the fields and blocking off some of the drains, fencing off perfectly good field corners. Hopefully by now they can see what our aim is. We have put in about twenty ponds, all fed by springs most of them are used by our wildfowl collection and are contained within the five acres of dedicated fox proof pens.
Where ever possible we try to double up, our venture needs to pay so even our folly, the 2 acre wildlife area on the west side of the top field contains not only a small pond with frogs, newts, toads and dragon flies and is ploughed bi annually and planted with conservation seed mix to feed the wild birds, the corners of this plot are planted with some of the 3500 Christmas trees we have planted over the last three years, hopefully giving us a cash crop in a year or so which will help to cover the associated cost of the wildlife area whilst in the meantime giving shelter and providing nest sites.
We have also planted over 200 pampas grasses there, these make the best nesting cover for grey partridge of which we have released a few each year in the hope of one day seeing a wild brood reared here, a pair have returned each year but so far have not stayed to breed. Over 500 other trees and shrubs have been planted since our time here including about 100 fruit trees and bushes, the first harvest William my four year old son and I polished off whilst feeding the waterfowl last September two Cox’s orange pippins and beautiful they were too. This year has been a terrible year for fruit but we have had a good sprinkling of apples, plums, cherries and even our first three green gages, unfortunately the peacocks and the guinea fowl ate the gooseberries, black and red currants and the rhubarb suffered a little from the attentions of the Hawaiian ne ne goose in the early spring!
The vegetable plot was abandoned last year mid summer, I think the final straw was when the willow cut for the pea and bean sticks took root and started to grow faster then anything else in the garden, hopefully we will find time for another go next year, definitely on another plot, and within raised beds I think as we are north facing and the fields are clay based. The old plot has become home to some of the young domestic ducks; buff orpingtons, Indian runners, Cayugas, call ducks etc awaiting new homes. It is at present also home to our new breeding group of pygmy goats who have done a grand job of clearing the ‘pea stick willow ‘ and most of the weeds that threatened a take over of the garden plot.
Our large black sow was placed back with the boar today so hopefully there should be some more weaners around in April. The latest batch has been sold barring two that should keep the freezer full this winter. They seem very capable of producing plenty of meat for all the family with the surplus sold and covering all the cost, I can’t ask more of them than that.
Our sheep flock amounts to 100 ewes now all poll dorsets, they lambed this spring with an excellent lambing percentage .The lambs did fantastically well early with the abundance of grass, though now the goodness has gone from the grass and they won’t finish with out a little extra feeding, a private buyer has been found to buy all as ‘stores ‘ so they will be soon going leaving more room for their mothers to over winter after all the food scares last summer the lamb price has improved this year so the cheque will be a welcome one .
The main stay of our smallholding is the poultry we keep over 120 breeds altogether of both domestic and ornamental species from show quality ducks and geese, commercial lines of laying chickens and ducks, Christmas geese ~ we fattened three hundred last year ~, quail we now keep some of the heaviest table strains in the country and one of the best laying strains, we have gone from 8 laying hens in our garden shed in 2000 to producing about two and half thousand per month year round.
We have possibly the largest range of colors among our guinea fowl in the country, these we sell to a whole host of people from those wanting just a couple to run around the garden, some go for meat, one lady only wants their feathers for card making, and another for tying fishing flies. At the moment the market that seems to be growing the fastest is that of organic pest control. We have sent several batches to the north of England for control of ticks around the farmstead on hill farms and very recently we took 200 to the welsh mountains to aid the control of ‘spruce bark beetle’ on an organic forestry block.
We have peafowl from the standard and most loved Indian blue, through to the black shouldered, white and pied and the beautiful but endangered java green.
We keep over a dozen ornamental pheasants, some relatively common like the golden and silver to the rare and endangered temincks tragopan and cheer.
The wildfowl are too numerous to mention but range from the diminutive Hottentot teal from Madegsger and east Africa, the smallest of all the dabbling ducks to the majestic trumpeter swan with its wing span of 6ft plus. The favorites of course are here mandarins, carolinas, whistling ducks, teal, shell ducks, hawaiian and red breasted geese, black and black necked swans.
We are as a family I guess in the minority amongst small holders in that since buying our land in early 2004 we now live on and make our living solely from our smallholding. We are both from Devon, I come from a background in commercial agriculture and have worked on various farms and Kate has spent some of her child hood in Devon but much of her youth was spent in Dubai then to college in London followed by ten years work in the catering industry both in London and here in Devon. We met in 1998 and have two children William 4 and Megan 2.
It has not been an easy road and at times it has seemed like a ‘money pit’ but by the end of the year we should have another eight acres behind six-foot fox fencing and several new species will be able to join us. Most of the infrastructure is now in place, we have put in a bore hole, connected to the electric grid, put up a 60’by 40’ modern barn and kitted out an egg storage room, incubator room and hatching room , workshop, and room for a chiller and freezers as well as feed storage
There is always work to be done and another project around the corner. Next year we hope to go for planning for a permanent dwelling, at present we are living in an old park home bought unseen from Ebay!! I imagine this winter evening will be filled with business plans and appraisals, diligent book work and I am sure Kate will chastise me for plans and notes on the back of almost every envelope and blank piece of paper the happens to be near me.
Kate’s latest project has been the development of an online shop for the geese sales for the Christmas market. If all goes well we will continue this line of selling for hatching eggs and other products. Kate built the website herself using self build £35.00 package, I must admit to being skeptical about it all at first but we now get over 500 visits per week and between 20 – 30 enquirers a day and this equates into a high percentage of our sales. Through the website eggs and birds are sent out on a weekly basis via courier all over the UK. Between looking after the kids, the website, the accounts, telephone messages and local deliveries Kate does her best to bring some order to my chaotic organizational skills
We welcome visitors to Moon Ridge Farm by appointment, our website www.moonridgefarm.co.uk will give you an insight into what we do and keep here. We are more then happy to give advice and help to all from the novice hobbyist to some one wanting to start up their own business. As long as we know you are coming we will be available to point you in the right direction, visitors are more then welcome to wander around the enclosures to view the stock.
Moon Ridge Farm, Half Moon, Exeter 01392 851190