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Posts Tagged With: thank a farmer

Meet a Turkey Farmer!

This post ranked in the top five of last year’s favorites, so today I’m revisiting the guest post written by a friend who raises turkeys!  With Thanksgiving just around the corner don’t forget to be thankful for the farmers who grew what’s on that table!

Hello! We are Josh, Jackie and Zane Witte. We raise cattle and turkeys. We raise approximately four flocks of 16,000 turkeys a year. Today, we are going to be telling you how the turkey that you eat on Thanksgiving is raised.

Meet a turkey farmer! This family shows you how they raise turkeys on their family farm!

We raise turkeys for Cargill Meat Solutions. In the grocery store you can look for the label Honeysuckle White.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

The operation is a little confusing. We own the farm and barns that the birds are raised in but we don’t own the turkeys. Cargill supplies us with the turkeys, feed, and other needs, while we supply the labor to take care of the birds. We have a brooder house where the baby turkeys- or poults, stay for the first 6 weeks of their lives. From there, the birds are moved to our grow-out barn where they remain until around 16 weeks of age. At that point, Cargill comes to get the birds for processing. Our turkeys can become anything from ground turkey to your typical Thanksgiving Day turkey. Let’s look at the process a little more, shall we?

Poults require a certain type of care to get the best start possible. We set up cardboard pens that will keep the birds close to the ‘brood stoves’ (heaters). If the birds get too far from the heaters and get cold, they will huddle together to get warm and accidently smother each other. We have to keep the barn at 90 degrees for the poults so we use a lot of propane! The heaters are the small circular shapes hanging from the ceiling.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm

The poults are delivered on a climate controlled truck, mostly in the early morning and at night. The truck is filled with boxes of turkeys. We load the boxes off the truck and onto our pickup trucks. Our brooder house is 440 feet long so we use the trucks to drive down the center of the barn.

turkey truck 1

turkey truck 2

Then it’s time to get the turkeys settled in for their stay on our farm. Remember those boxes of poults? The yellow boxes hold 100 baby turkeys each.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

We have to carefully take each turkey out of the boxes and into their new homes. We are blessed to have great family and friends who come out to help. Aunt Jess and Zane are unloading the poults by hand.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

When the poults are adjusting to their new life, we have to sort of teach them how to eat. You know the old adage that turkeys are dumb? Well, guess what, they really are. Josh’s grandparents used to raise range turkeys, and the birds would actually drown themselves from looking at the sky during a rainstorm. (Which is one of the reasons barns are used. Being free-range isn’t all its cracked up to be by commercials!) At any rate, we have to trick them into eating and drinking.

Fun Farm Fact: Turkeys are attracted to the color green. Thank me later when you win lots of money on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? So we put green colored feed on top of their normal feed and their water comes out of a green nipple. The turkeys instinctively peck at the green and then get the taste for food and water. Pretty cool, huh?

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

As the poults get used to their surroundings, they spread out a little but for the most part like to stay close together for warmth. (The big red thing in the middle is another type of waterer that they use when they get older).

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

They also have to get used to our little turkey wrangler.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

When the poults get older and bigger, we remove the cardboard pens and let them have free run of the barn.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm

Eventually, the turkeys run out of room in the brooder house so we have to move them to the 770 foot long grow-out barn. The barns are connected with an alley that the birds will walk through. This is the turkeys’ new home until they are big enough for processing. Our birds weigh around 22 pounds when they leave our farm.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

After the birds leave it’s time to clean out the barns. I didn’t photograph this because it’s a nasty job. We take out all the old litter and manure and spread it on our cattle pasture. Turkey manure is an excellent fertilizer so whatever litter we don’t use, we sell to local crop farmers. Then it is time to start the whole process over again!

I hope you have enjoyed your peek into the life of turkey farming. Be sure to remember where all of your Thanksgiving meal comes from and thank a farmer! Happy Thanksgiving from Witte Farms!

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Farm to Store

Celebrating Thank a Farmer week is done like most American holidays– it lasts a whole week and has a lot to do with food!  Saturday was the pancake breakfast, then raffling off a grocery store gift certificate, and, new this year, we parked a tractor at the local store!

Thank a Farmer

Thank a Farmer and Thank Early’s Tractor Dealership!

Thanks to the tractor dealership in town for letting us use one of theirs since it was already clean and only a few blocks from the store!  Tractors generally go less than 25/mph, so that’s pretty helpful!  Thanks to the county Farm Bureau board members who volunteer their time to set up these functions.  Thanks to the grocery stores that work with and support the farming community.  And of course, thanks to the farmers who are responsible from everything in those stores from the bananas to the macaroni and cheese to the plastic used to package it all!

Check in tomorrow for the next Thank a Farmer post.  We’re thanking Daddy for something pretty exciting!

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Disclaimer on this Video!

It was awesome to hear this song, “Thank a Farmer” by James Wesley live at the AFBF annual meeting and I made a note to share it on the blog during Thank a Farmer Week.  However, I must add this disclaimer, we are NOT growing daughters in tank tops and tight blue jeans on this farm!  I feel I should warn potential young suitors that Daddy has a Case IH gun safe in the garage.

Thank a Farmer

Just so you know.

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If You Have a Career, Thank a Farmer

If you’re an artist, thank a farmer. If you’re a lawyer or business owner or teacher, thank a farmer. If you work at Wal-Mart, or an animal shelter, or the White House, thank a farmer. Because once upon a time you had two career choices– hunter or gatherer.

Thank a Farmer

Here’s a snapshot of Brian’s mom as a little girl and her Daddy– a farmer.

And then, some enterprising person discovered that you could plant seeds and grow food on purpose and in one place. Some early wanderer domesticated a few sheep or goats and settled down on the banks of a river. It was the beginnings of civilization itself, and it’s all thanks to farming.

Thank a Farmer

This farm was owned by my great, great, uncle.

This week our Farm Bureau is celebrating “Thank a Farmer” week. We talk a lot about how 100% of the people in this country eat food and how America’s farmers provide the safest, most abundant, most affordable food in the world. Which is pretty important stuff. But I was really struck at the American Farm Bureau meeting in San Antonio last month by the head of the USDA, Tom Villsack, when he spoke about the farmer being the cornerstone of civilization, because without someone to grow the food, no one gets to be anything else.

No computer programmers. No engineers. No fashion designers. Not even any McDonald’s employees.

Thank a Farmer

This is Daddy’s Grandpa Tom on the far right, harvesting wheat.

The better farmers get at their jobs, the freer our nation becomes to pursue other avenues. Every advancement in technology means one more kid goes to college to be a writer or opens a garage to build hot rod cars.

My great-grandpa was a police officer.  Benjamin Corner was the first Highway Patrolman in Missouri to give his life in service of his fellow men.

My great-grandpa was a police officer. Benjamin Corner was the first Highway Patrolman in Missouri to give his life in service of his fellow men.

You probably don’t have to look very far back your family tree to find a grandparent or great-grandparent who farmed. When Brian’s grandpa climbed up to the open seat of his combine his hard work provided 20 people with the food they needed, so they could focus on building roads and inventing microwaves. Today, on average, one farmer feeds 155 people. 155 people who can find a cure for cancer or dream up missions to Mars.

Thank a Farmer

This is my mom, visiting her uncle on his farm.

So today, if you dream of a fulfilling career, be glad it isn’t just a filling career, and thank a farmer.

Categories: Technology | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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