Thanksgiving celebrations have wrapped up by now, and we hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. A Thanksgiving feast is prepared by families across the country. It’s a time when family members can present their best dish for the traditions of food their family has on the holiday. The feast is rarely complete without the main dish, the turkey. The average American consumes 16 pounds of turkey each year. The practice of turkey farming is how each family is able to have a Thanksgiving turkey on their table each year.
Turkey farming can be compared to chicken farming in a lot of ways. The main reason turkey farming is similar to chickens is that commercial turkeys are raised to gain quality weight quickly. This is why commercial turkeys differ in appearance from wild turkeys. This difference is not a bad thing for the animals, it is because the turkeys have a different purpose for their lives. Turkeys on farms are treated with top quality care, the farmers care about the animals and know that the animals will live up to their full potential with the best care. There are more than 100 million turkeys on farms throughout the United States, with Minnesota being the top turkey producing state. Other states that lead turkey production include: North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri, Virginia, Iowa, and California. Turkey farms are very efficient, like all aspects of the agriculture industry strive to be. In the 1930s it would take a turkey farmer about 105 pounds of feed to feed a 21 pound turkey. Today, that same amount of feed can be used by a turkey farmer to feed a 45 pound turkey.
Although Illinois is not a dominant turkey farming state, there are still turkey farms that are present. One very popular local turkey farm is Yordy Turkey Farm in Morton, IL. Yordy Turkey Farm has been providing turkeys for over 80 years, and provides all natural turkeys to their customers. They promise high quality, and (based on customer reviews) they deliver that promise. A farm a little further away is Caveny Farm, located in Monticello, IL. Caveny Farm offers a variety of animals, one of which are turkeys. They offer bourbon red turkey and smoked bourbon red turkey. Other turkey farms in the area are Hodel Turkey Farm (Roanoke, IL), Sinn Brothers Turkey Farm (Tremont, IL), Foster Farms (Tuscola, IL), and Whitefield Hills Farm (Henry, IL). There are many others that spread throughout the area between the far northern areas of the state and the far southern areas. When you are in need of a turkey (especially for holidays), it is always a good idea to look locally if possible. The local farmers are willing to talk to you about their farms and what turkey would be best for your family’s needs.
It was mentioned above that Yordy Turkey Farm provides all natural turkeys to their customers. What does that really mean? Well, turkeys available for sale are grouped into four different categories. There are natural, organic, free-range, and “none of the above” types of turkeys. Natural would be a turkey with no added color, no artificial ingredients, and is minimally processed. Organic is when the turkey is fed an organic diet, with surroundings that are pesticide and herbicide free, and the animal is given no antibiotics. Free-range turkeys are a free-roaming animal, which is defined by the USDA as, “Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.” Finally, “none of the above” turkeys are typically the generic turkey that can be bought in large quantities (usually at a grocery store). Those turkeys fit into none of the other categories.