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!

Willmar FFA Students, Life-Science Innovations Staffer Honored

News Release

For immediate release

Contact:  Lara Durben

Phone:   (763) 682-2171


Willmar FFA Students, Life-Science Innovations Staffer Honored

(Buffalo, MN )  … The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) has honored five individuals this year for their extraordinary promotion of Minnesota turkey and their dedication and commitment to the goals of the association.

Receiving the 2012 MTGA President’s Award are:

  • Brianna Hoover
  • Brenna Ahlquist
  • Preston Asche
  • Val Brown
  • Jennifer Baumgartner

Brianna, Brenna, Preston and Val are Willmar High School students and FFA members who were instrumental to the success of the 2011 President Turkey project that was coordinated by the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, Willmar Poultry Company and the National Turkey Federation.

The students cared daily for a special flock of turkeys last fall, two of which were destined for a trip to the White House to be pardoned by President Barack Obama. In addition to the daily care and human interaction the birds needed in order to be trained for any Presidential duties, the students also made educational school visits in the Twin Cities, conducted media interviews, and even blogged about their experiences raising the Presidential turkeys.

Jennifer Baumgartner, whose full-time role with Life-Science Innovations and Willmar Poultry Company includes communications & employee relations, was honored for her hard work and efforts in organizing the students and their busy schedules, assisting MTGA with photos and video-taping, coordinating on-site media stories in Willmar, and serving as a chaperone to Washington DC, where she and the FFA students witnessed the Presidential pardon of the official National Thanksgiving Turkey.

“This entire project was made even more special because of these FFA students and the assistance of Jenn Baumgartner,” said MTGA Executive Director Steve Olson. “We appreciated the time and work they all did to make sure this project went off without a hitch. They were excellent spokespeople for Minnesota’s turkey farmers.”

The official award presentation took place at the MTGA’ s annual meeting in Saint Paul, Minn. on March 14.

For more information on the MTGA or its President’s Award program, please contact the MTGA at (763) 682-2171 or visit

About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and located in Buffalo, MN, is a nonprofit association dedicated to fostering a successful Minnesota turkey industry and its ability to make positive contributions to consumers, the economy, the environment and its members. Minnesota is currently ranked #1 for turkey production in the U.S. with its 250 turkey farmers raising approximately 46 million turkeys in 2011. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. For further details, visit