Get Your Gobble On!

Just in time for the weekend … check out this fun video of folks from Minnesota getting their gobble on!  Most are from Badger High School – filmed by Alex Burkel. If there was ever a turkey video worth sharing with your friends, this is it! :-)

Badger, MN Classroom Visits to the Farm

Last week, two classes from Badger Elementary School visited the Presidential flock, learned more about raising turkeys and, in the process, helped acclimate the turkeys even further to lots of noise and commotion. The photos below are of the kindergarten and 5th grade classes.

John and Joni Burkel’s two youngest children, Emily and Jack are part of those classes, as well. Emily is a kindergartner and Jack is a 5th grader. Judging from these photos, it looks like everyone had a great time learning about turkeys!

Presidential Turkey Flock 2013 | Student Visits on the Farm - via




Jack handing out turkey toes

Presidential Turkey Flock 2013 | Student Visits on the Farm - via






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!


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?



MN Turkey Announces Donation of 1,180 turkeys to Hunger Solutions Minnesota

For immediate release

Contact: Lara Durben ( or 763/682-2171

Governor Dayton, Minnesota’s Turkey Farmers Usher in Thanksgiving

MTGA Announces Donation of 11,150 Pounds of Turkey to Hunger Solutions Minnesota

St. Paul, MN (November 20, 2012) – A Minnesota-raised tom turkey and the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) paid a visit to Governor Mark Dayton today at the State Capital in Saint Paul. The event was a time-honored tradition, going back more than two decades, of Minnesota’s Governor kicking off Thanksgiving week in Minnesota.

“I want to thank Governor Dayton for inviting us here today and continuing the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving and giving thanks for Minnesota’s turkey farmers, our state’s strong agriculture industry and the abundance of food we provide for the world,” said President and turkey farmer Duane Jaenicke, Roseau, Minn.

At the event, Jaenicke announced the donation of 11,150 pounds of turkey – a total of 1,180 whole birds – to Hunger Solutions Minnesota (HSM), which will be distributed to food shelves and food banks across the state.

“It’s been a trying and challenging year for many families who are struggling to make ends meet,” Jaenicke. “Minnesota’s turkey farmers want to do their part in combating hunger with this donation to Hunger Solutions Minnesota,” said Jaenicke. “The turkey we donate today will feed nearly 13,000 people.”

Jaenicke runs P & J Farms along with his son, Scott. The operation raises approximately 100,000 to 130,000 hens for Northern Pride Cooperative out of Thief River Falls.

Since 2001, MTGA has donated over 190,000 pounds of turkey to various areas of the state – or enough turkey to feed over 236,000 people. This year, this donation provides turkeys to families in communities such as Cannon Falls, Faribault, Melrose, Willmar, Thief River Falls, Frazee, Perham and Buffalo.

These funds have been raised from contributions by Minnesota’s turkey farmers and MTGA allied members as well as a portion of the sales from MTGA’s Turkey To Go restaurant at the Minnesota State Fair and new “likers” to the Minnesota Turkey Facebook page (

HSM, a comprehensive hunger relief organization that works to end hunger in Minnesota, will coordinate the purchase and distribution of the turkey.

According to HSM, there were 3 million visits to food shelves last year in our state. That reflects an increase of 164% over the past decade. Food shelves are an essential part of the safety net that responds to local need-food shelves fill in the meal gap between paid work and nutrition programs. In the last five years alone, hunger has doubled in Minnesota. This has put an immense strain on our emergency response to food insecurity. Long term unemployment has caused previously middle class families to turn to food shelves for answers to their food needs.

Said Colleen Moriarty, HSM Executive Director: “Our food shelves really appreciate this donation of quality protein. Families that visit the food shelves during the holidays will benefit greatly. We continue to look for creative solutions so that no one in Minnesota has to skip meals or eat food that is low in quality. We greatly appreciate the many ways the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association supports our work.”

Approximately 250 turkey family farmers from Minnesota raise about 46 million birds annually, which places Minnesota at the #1 position in the U.S. for turkey production.

U.S. turkey production stands at 246 million – which means Minnesota farmers raise nearly 20% of all U.S. turkeys. Approximately 95% of all Americans will eat turkey at Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation.

MTGA was founded in 1939. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. and is also home to three successful turkey processing companies – Jennie-O Turkey Store in Willmar, Northern Pride Cooperative in Thief River Falls, and Turkey Valley Farms in Marshall. These companies collectively have created over 2,000 turkey products for the consumer and foodservice markets that are shipped across the country and the world.

Each turkey raised in Minnesota brings $17.46 in economic value to the state – which means Minnesota’s turkeys and the farmers who raise them generate over $800 million in economic activity for the state.


About MTGA

The MTGA, founded in 1939 and headquartered 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 an estimated 46 million turkeys in 2012. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S. For further information, visit or find us on Facebook: and Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey).

About Hunger Solutions Minnesota

Hunger Solutions Minnesota is a comprehensive hunger relief organization that works to end hunger in Minnesota. We take action to assure food security for all Minnesotans by supporting over 300 agencies that provide food to those in need, advancing sound public policy, and guiding grassroots advocacy. HSM advocates for the maximum use of all federal public nutrition dollars available and works to improve low income Minnesotans’ access to all nutrition programs. The HSM Minnesota Food HelpLine (1-888-711-1151) helps enroll low-income Minnesotans in the Food Support (Food Stamps) program and helps callers find emergency food assistance in their area. For further information, visit , on Twitter @hungersolutions or on Facebook


# # #