You see, I grew up with chickens. I remember the incubators and hatching eggs, feeding the chickens, collecting eggs, trimming their wings. I thought, I already know what they do. I was wrong.
We went to the Sietsema Farms up near Grand Rapids Michigan. They have a HUGE turkey farm. Baby turkeys (called chicks or poults) look like baby chicks, but with longer drumstick legs. The Sietsema turkey flock is well cared for. They have super long water trays to ensure the turkeys know where to get water. This helps them get used to knowing where to get their water. Food is also distributed on this same system so the turkeys are able to find food easily. There are fans and the heat is kept warm, so the turkeys are kept warm, comfy and safe.
These little turkeys heard our voices and would scramble to come where we were, they thought we were their mom. So the farmer asked us to keep moving for the turkey’s safety. The farm we visited only had male (called Tom’s) turkeys they get them from a hatchery.
Turkey farmers are busy all year long, not just in November for Thanksgiving. Most of the turkey farms in Michigan are for male turkeys (Tom turkeys are about 40 pounds!), which provide the turkey you see in the deli and in turkey sausage, bacon, slices, etc. Female turkeys are sold in whole form as they are smaller than the Tom turkeys.
We also go to visit the Michigan Turkey Producers Co-op, where the turkey is processes and then distributed to stores and restaurants. The Co-op supplies ready to eat and ready to cook products, depending on what they need.
We were served an awesome lunch of turkey by the quality team (can you imagine, having a job where you got to eat every day?) It was delicious.
The co-op and turkey farmers work in harmony together to provide quality turkey all year. They are very proud (and should be) of their partnership. I have a great pride when I am in the store and see turkey products, knowing local farmers are helping feed my family.
Here’s a recipe for turkey breasts and stuffing in your slow cooker. Great for anytime of the year.