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    Post #1 - April 11th, 2014, 12:14 am
    Post #1 - April 11th, 2014, 12:14 am Post #1 - April 11th, 2014, 12:14 am
    I'm going to start this topic, in an effort to inform. I hope it doesn't become controversial..... I just want to share something I learned today, that surprised me, and I've spent my entire life around agriculture.

    This all started late last Fall. We are active in the Foods Resource Bank at our church. We are one of 7 or 8 "farmers" that the church sponsors, to raise money for education/training in impoverished foreign areas, so people can learn to feed themselves and others. (I'll be happy to go on and on about FRB, if that's where the topic leads, this is one of the best ideas to end hunger in the world, and it gets very little attention.)

    Anyhoo..........

    One of the ladies, on the FRB Committee at church, was telling us that her daughter in law would only eat humanely raised Meat. She said she was a big fan of our sausage, because she knew how it was raised. In the course of the conversation, she mentioned that she paid $85 for their Thanksgiving turkey. She said it took her a while to find what she was looking for, I'm not sure where it came from.

    This has been in the back of my mind all winter. What I know about turkeys can fit on the head of a pin, but $85 seems like a revenue stream I need to wade into. I sat at the desk this morning and made calls and pushed a pencil. When I was done, I was stunned.

    Turkey chick ~ $6
    Feed to get him/her to 20 lb slaughter weight ~ $24
    Processing fee $.50/lb ~ $10

    That's $40 for a 12-15 lb dressed bird. I still need to make money on this deal. I have a 30 mile trip to the processor. If I raise a dozen birds, I can make the round trip for a dollar a head. I still need to make a profit. How much should a guy make for raising your food??

    All the money in this deal is mine, until you pay me for a dressed bird. How much money would you invest in an endeavor hoping the buyer comes through in the end. What about death loss... your humanely raised turkey, that's lolly gagging around the yard, just got hooked by a coyote..... that's all built into the price.

    I'm driving to get feed, I'm looking after the critters while they grow. I'm hoping they stay healthy so I don't have to treat or lose a sick animal.

    What would you charge for that??

    I would never charge another $45 for profit, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I did that, but what is fair?? $20 for 3 months worth of work and responsibility??

    Now if you've stuck with me, and read this to the end.... the reason you see those big long barns, full of hogs and turkeys and chickens, out in the country, I hope you realize they are like that because they are only making a few dollars a head profit. It takes a thousand head barn to make it worthwhile to walk through and do chores 3 or 4 times a day.

    I guess I'm posting this because I was so surprised at the actual cost of raising a turkey. Those 99 cent butterballs at Thanksgiving aren't helping to educate anyone to what it takes to put food on their table, but as long as people are fat and happy, they don't ask questions... but they sure have opinions.....

    If you got to this point, you need a special award for putting up with another ramble from NW Ohio.

    Thanks for following along.........

    Tim
  • Post #2 - April 11th, 2014, 9:03 am
    Post #2 - April 11th, 2014, 9:03 am Post #2 - April 11th, 2014, 9:03 am
    Tim, I would say $65 if you're raising a smaller number of turkey and $60 if you are raising a larger number.
    I appreciate your continuing efforts to tell us about the nuts and bolts of a farmer's everyday life.
  • Post #3 - April 12th, 2014, 11:44 pm
    Post #3 - April 12th, 2014, 11:44 pm Post #3 - April 12th, 2014, 11:44 pm
    We will save up and shell out around $45-$60 for a locally raised bird. Since we've moved here, we've mostly purchased Ho-Ka birds, but I did drop over $60 for a "heritage" bird when we lived in Kansas City. It's our most expensive meal of the year, but it's also one of our family's highest holy days.

    I am constantly amazed at how cheap things like eggs and milk and meat are. I raised some meat animals as a kid (mostly rabbit, goat, and sheep) and I know what kind of commitment it is. If you do decide to raise some turkeys and sell them in the Chicago area, I'd be willing to participate in a community supported deal to get one of your birds down the road.
    “Assuredly it is a great accomplishment to be a novelist, but it is no mediocre glory to be a cook.” -- Alexandre Dumas

    "I give you Chicago. It is no London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from tail to snout." -- H.L. Mencken
  • Post #4 - April 13th, 2014, 9:48 pm
    Post #4 - April 13th, 2014, 9:48 pm Post #4 - April 13th, 2014, 9:48 pm
    mamagotcha wrote:......I'd be willing to participate in a community supported deal to get one of your birds down the road.


    Thanks for the offer. When I first found LTH, I was poking around in the archives and found some misleading and some downright false information, in the Gardening, Farming and Foraging tab. I said when I introduced myself, I wasn't going to try to sell anybody anything, I just wanted to be a resource.

    As much as I'd like to be able to supply a large market, like the Chicago area, I'm going to stay a little closer to home. I do encourage everyone to support a local farmer though. We are all in the same business, and we would like to have local customers, relatively close by. Running into people that we provide pork or eggs to, at local events, is part of the fun of being in this business.

    We are also trying to be locavore's, we buy our beef, by the half, from a neighbor/friend. There is something special about talking to the guy that produces your food. I encourage everyone to do it, it's worth the premium price.

    Tim
  • Post #5 - April 13th, 2014, 11:07 pm
    Post #5 - April 13th, 2014, 11:07 pm Post #5 - April 13th, 2014, 11:07 pm
    Fair enough. But if you take the plunge, I look forward to your documentation and storytelling, if you decide to share them with us.
    “Assuredly it is a great accomplishment to be a novelist, but it is no mediocre glory to be a cook.” -- Alexandre Dumas

    "I give you Chicago. It is no London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from tail to snout." -- H.L. Mencken
  • Post #6 - April 15th, 2014, 4:08 pm
    Post #6 - April 15th, 2014, 4:08 pm Post #6 - April 15th, 2014, 4:08 pm
    Hi,

    A friend raised meat-chickens in small quantities of 250-300 chicks every spring. This was roughly a twelve week commitment concluding in the slaughter of these chickens weighing 6-8 pounds each.

    The first year she raised chickens, she conducted the slaughter herself along with a friend who showed her the ropes. Since these were for personal consumption, it wasn't an issue. When she wanted to sell some, she paid a dollar a chicken to process them nearby.

    I bought those chickens for roughly $15. each, which covered her costs and provided some seed money for another batch.

    Small scale meat chicken raising (or turkeys) is pricey. If you have customer's willing to pay, why not give it a shot.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #7 - April 16th, 2014, 10:44 am
    Post #7 - April 16th, 2014, 10:44 am Post #7 - April 16th, 2014, 10:44 am
    We'll probably do a few. If nothing else, we'll provide the bird for my family and my wife's family Thanksgiving Table, plus a couple extras for our freezer. I'm always up for new things, even if it ends in complete disaster, we won't be out too much.

    The guy that runs the processing facility said if the word got out that we had naturally grown turkeys, we'd probably have more customers than we could service. He said his phone rings off the hook every Fall with people looking for Thanksgiving birds.

    We'll see how it goes. I don't want to get into large scale turkey farming, but it seems like something we can work into our schedule, and it might be a niche that isn't being filled in this area.

    Tim
  • Post #8 - April 16th, 2014, 1:26 pm
    Post #8 - April 16th, 2014, 1:26 pm Post #8 - April 16th, 2014, 1:26 pm
    Freezer Pig wrote:The guy that runs the processing facility said if the word got out that we had naturally grown turkeys, we'd probably have more customers than we could service. He said his phone rings off the hook every Fall with people looking for Thanksgiving birds.

    I absolutely believe this.

    My sister lives on a small farm ostensibly to house her horses. At her first place, there was a chicken coop. I suggested she raise chickens. She wanted nothing to do with any chickens. While she is not a meat eater, this was not her first concern. She didn't want to attract wild life who would feast on the chickens.

    If you do turkeys, I want to know if this is really true: turkeys can drown themselves in a rainfall by opening their mouths to the sky and taking in all the water.

    Looking forward to the chronicles of your adventures raising turkeys.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #9 - April 17th, 2014, 10:49 am
    Post #9 - April 17th, 2014, 10:49 am Post #9 - April 17th, 2014, 10:49 am
    Cathy2 wrote:
    Freezer Pig wrote:The guy that runs the processing facility said if the word got out that we had naturally grown turkeys, we'd probably have more customers than we could service. He said his phone rings off the hook every Fall with people looking for Thanksgiving birds.

    I absolutely believe this.

    My sister lives on a small farm ostensibly to house her horses. At her first place, there was a chicken coop. I suggested she raise chickens. She wanted nothing to do with any chickens. While she is not a meat eater, this was not her first concern. She didn't want to attract wild life who would feast on the chickens.

    If you do turkeys, I want to know if this is really true: turkeys can drown themselves in a rainfall by opening their mouths to the sky and taking in all the water.

    Looking forward to the chronicles of your adventures raising turkeys.

    Regards,


    I have a good friend who spent a year on a kibbutz in the 70's and was primarily tasked with tending to the turkeys. He has a lifelong hatred of turkeys since that experience. While the drowning in rain appears to be largely a myth, he says they were just a major pain in the ass to deal with.

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