From 50g to 3kg in 47 days

Our company was founded in 1959 by the late Sir Joseph Nickerson near the village of Rothwell Lincolnshire. The main production and processing plant are nearby at Caistor. For 50 years the company dedicated itself entirely to the genetic improvement of the Pekin Duck and an in-depth marketing of every product and by-product of the Lincolnshire breed. In the early days it was the vision and innovation of John Manton that sparked and drove the development of what we can still call the world’s “foremost duck company”. Still owned by the Nickerson family today, John’s dedication helped us to produce the UK’s first frozen oven ready duckling back in 1959. A year later we launched our first range of frozen duckling products under the now revered Cherry Valley brand.

The company developed unique strains of the Pekin duck to produce a range of mature carcass weights with highly efficient feed conversion and parent ducks with excellent reproductive capacity.

The company rears and processes approximately 8 million ducks every year to the highest welfare standards in the industry. With a 75% UK market share, most of the ducks are supplied into Chinese catering, both in the UK and mainland Europe. Parent breeding stock is exported to producers overseas for multiplication and supply to their local markets. Joint ventures have been set up in China and Hungary. About 25% of the ducks sold in China are from the Cherry Valley supplied farms. Special laying ducks have been bred to offer more eggs than local ducks with a choice of green or white eggs. In all cases, customers have been provided with full technical advice with technical training at the Lincolnshire base where required for overseas customers.

In 1991 the company undertook to secure the health of all the operation by implementing a Seven Tier ‘Pyramid’ system in which stock pass from one level to the next and never in the reverse. The pyramid is from the Elite Farms(1) to Grandparents(2) to Elite Hatchery(3) to Parent Farms(4) to Commercial Hatchery(5) to Commercial Growing(6) and finally to the Processing Plant(7). In the three top tiers all staff shower upon entry and change into clean working clothes every time they enter. Working cloths are washed on site so they never leave a location. At all locations contamination is monitored at a dedicated microbiology laboratory.

The company sells feathers for duvets and insulated clothing and duck tongues and feet for gourmet markets in China. Prepared duck meals are produced at the Specialty Food division at Cleethorps, near Grimsby.

The company was awarded the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in 1984 and again in 1994 as we expanded our customer base to cover over 80 countries worldwide.

View of Rothwell Farms of Joseph Nickerson