It Takes Two to Tango

Presidential Turkey Flock 2013 - from Minnesota | via

This post is purely for fun and entertainment! One of the Badger High School students was in the large turkey barn at the Burkel farm last week and found herself a friend – or dancing partner, perhaps!

We couldn’t resist creating this video – thanks, Kate, for giving us permission!

Digging the Snood

What would you name these 2013 Presidential Turkey Hopefuls? from MN | via

Have you heard? Female turkeys really dig the snood!

But what is the snood? And the wattle for that matter?

Check out this short video featuring Alex Burkel, whose family is raising the Presidential flock in Minnesota this year. Alex points out the wattle and the snood – no thanks to a photobombing turkey – and also explains that turkeys have about 3,500 feathers or so.

Turns out, a snood’s main function in life is to attract the girl turkeys (or “hens”) to the boy turkeys (or “toms”).

See it really is true – chicks dig the snood!


Team Presidential Turkey: Meet the Burkel Kids

Team Presidential Turkey 2013: Meet the Burkel Kids | via

Hi, my name is Andrea Burkel. This year my family has been given the honor to raise the turkeys for the Thanksgiving Pardoning with the president, so I thought I’d start out by introducing everyone!

First I’ll talk a little about myself. I am currently 17 years old and a senior in Badger High School. I’m planning to attend college at UND (University of North Dakota) after I graduate. My interests include volleyball, golf, band, and choir.

My older sister, Vanessa, is 19 and currently attending college at UND. Alex, my 15 year old brother, is a sophomore at Badger. He loves playing his trumpet and is also involved in one act plays, basketball, and golf.

My other brother Jack is 10 and in fifth grade. Right now he’s hooked on the video games Minecraft and Call Of Duty: Black Ops II. He’s also learning to play trumpet and likes to play outside, jumping on the trampoline and playing in the tree house that he and Alex built in our backyard last summer.

Emily, the baby of the family, will be turning 6 in December. She’s in kindergarten this year. Emily loves to play dress up and often has tea parties with the rest of us kids and all of her dolls.

I’ll be posting more later about caring for the presidential turkeys with my family and friends! Stay tuned… :-)

Team Presidential Turkey 2013: Meet the Burkel Kids | via

We’ve had quite a few visitors to our farm this month because friends and family want to come check out the Presidential flock! It’s great practice for the turkeys – they need to get used to people being close and taking their pictures.

Team Presidential Turkey 2013: Meet the Burkel Kids | via

Here are a couple of the turkeys, preening for the camera – see how their feathers are all puffed out? They do that to show off!


A Look Inside a Turkey Barn

Presidential Turkey Flock 2013 | via

We’ve got new video from the Burkel family – specifically Alex, Jack and Emily – who took a video camera into one of their large turkey barns and provided a little tour and some information about what turkeys drink and eat.

The barn featured in the video is housing about 4,000 turkeys right now – you can see that they aren’t raised in cages (which is sometimes a common misperception) and they have plenty of space to move around.

Turkeys are housed in modern barns like these because it protects them from the weather elements – whether it’s really hot in the summer or below zero in the winter – and it keeps predators away, as well.

The turkeys’  barn is much like our own houses – it provides heating, cooling and a clean, safe environment in which to live.

As Alex explains in the video, the family chose about 80 birds out of this larger flock to raise as the “Presidential flock.”  Once those birds grew bigger, the Presidential flock was narrowed down to about 20 hopefuls, which in turn, was reduced to less than 10 who have “made the cut.”  Time will tell which two birds are the most well-behaved to make the trip to Washington DC!

Check out the video and let us know if you learned anything new about turkeys!

It’s Official! White House Bound!

It’s official!  Minnesota turkey farmer John Burkel – the current chairman of the National Turkey Federation – has been officially invited to bring two turkeys to the White House later this month for the National Thanksgiving Turkey pardoning ceremony with President Obama!

John will be the 12th Minnesotan to represent the turkey industry at this time-honored tradition. (Read more National Thanksgiving Turkey history here.)

That also means we need to start thinking of some creative names for the National Thanksgiving Turkey and his alternate.  We need your help!  Submit your ideas by November 10 using this online form – we will pick several of the top choices and run a little popularity contest on Facebook to come up with a few options to give to the Obama family, which will ultimately pick the names.

And if you’re stumped, we’ve included a list of the names that have been chosen since 1999 – check it out here!

In the meantime, here are the latest photos taken of John’s Presidential flock. As you can see, a special banner with an image of the White House has been put in their barn so the birds can preen and pretend they’re getting their photos taken by the paparazzi!

Minnesota's Presidential Turkey Flock 2013  | via

Minnesota's Presidential Turkey Flock 2013 | via

This is Alex, one of John and his wife Joni’s five kids. Here, he is cleaning out the “waterer” where the birds have access to fresh water all the time. He’s using a solution of iodine to clean it – that’s why the water looks brown right now. The iodine gets rid of all the bacteria that could make the birds sick.

Minnesota's Presidential Turkey Flock 2013 | via

Here’s a look at several of the birds – they are all tom turkeys (or males).

Minnesota's Presidential Turkey Flock 2013 | via

Looking very regal, wouldn’t you say?