1938 - 2005

John Adlard, who died in August 2005, was the architect of the modern day revival in the goose industry

As the only chairman of the British Goose Producers Association (BGPA) since it was formed in 1983, John had the foresight to see the potential consumer appeal of the traditional goose and was the inspiration behind today’s trendy image of the Christmas goose. From the 1970s and early 1980s when goose production was dwindling, the industry has expanded year-on-year and growing demand has even led to shortages of traditionally reared, fresh geese.

The son of a Norwich bank manager, he saw his career in farming and became a salesman for an animal feed manufacturer. Soon after he moved to Chestnut Farm at Pulham Market in 1968, he was made redundant at the age of 30 and set up in business selling animal health products and, after a while, also rearing pigs and poultry.

One day his turkey supplier, who was also importing goslings from Denmark, mentioned that he was giving up geese and John took the opportunity to buy his gosling business. Then for the next four years he and his wife Susan made regular trips each week to collect day-old goslings off the boat at Harwich to deliver to customers.

In time, their business Norfolk Geese formed a close association with the Legarth family in Denmark who were world leaders in selective breeding to improve meat yield, and they began importing breeding stock to hatch their own goslings.

The Adlards began supplying goose producers across the country in the days when the railway was the main means of reaching far-off customers. Norfolk Geese expanded and became the largest supplier to the UK market, hatching up to 100,000 goslings between April and August. The business gained export markets for hatching eggs and goslings, and also found a useful sideline in selling blown goose eggs for decorating.

The couple organised the first national conference of goose producers in 1982 which led to the BGPA being formed and a campaign launched to co-ordinate research, marketing and promotion of geese. For further information on the BGP visit their website www.geese.cc

Through the last 20 years John had become the goose industry’s best known person, a visionary who was always a positive inspiration and ever ready to provide advice to members or aspiring goose producers. He was also a popular figure in his home village, helping with many charitable causes, particularly Cancer Research.

He is survived by two daughters Louise and Georgia, and four grandchildren. His wife who contributed greatly to the early success of the business died in 1990. His brother David is a well known local chef and has a boutique bed and breakfast in North Norfolk and is planning an academy for chefs - more information at this link

john on farm
john with mr sage
john on farm
Tribute compiled by Roger Ranson and reproduced
from Poultry World September 2005