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The producers: KI Fresh free-range geese

Never mind the turkey, goose is the ultimate Christmas table centrepiece.

Who David and Lorraine Huxtable initially won praise for producing exceptional free-range chickens for Kangaroo Island's acclaimed Ordways, then for their own brand, but changed to geese seven years ago. They wanted a unique product that was more cost-effective to produce and faced less marketplace competition than chicken. Many chefs now cite KI Fresh as Australia's best goose producers.

How The geese can roam for most of their lives across the Huxtables' 100-hectare farm at Wisanger on Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia, south-west of Adelaide, because the island is free of foxes and other predators. The 400 or so breeding birds hatch around a thousand goslings; David confesses to not knowing precise numbers because they're never penned (a cost-saving measure that puts his KI operation at an advantage over mainland farmers). The geese feed on pasture and are finished on grain for a short time before being processed at a minimum of 16 weeks (with a dressed weight of two to three kilos), or at 22 weeks (weighing about four kilos).

Why True free-range and stress-free farming results in larger, more muscular birds. Their rich flavour and firm but supple texture has made an impression on chefs who have visited the farm - including George Calombaris and Matt Moran, who use the birds in their restaurants. David's strict adherence to processing the birds only when they're completely market-ready (about 100 at a time, at Kapowie Poultry in Kapunda, SA) means he often struggles to keep up with demand, but he hopes to have bumper numbers ready for Christmas.

Where Limited distribution to stores, including Victor Churchill in Sydney. Contact KI Fresh for more stockist info on (08) 8553 5133.

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