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Minnesota Turkey Launches 3rd “Day in the Life of a Turkey Farmer” Video

Video focuses on Where the Turkey Life Cycle Begins – On a Breeder Farm

(BUFFALO, MN) – Minnesota turkey grower Loren Brey of Brey Farms was recently featured in “A Day in the Life of a Turkey Farmer” video. This video is part of a series of videos created and published by the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) as an effort to promote and educate consumers about the turkey industry. These videos provide an insightful view into the life of a turkey farmer – the challenges and joys of raising turkeys in Minnesota.

Said Steve Olson, MTGA Executive Director: “Transparency is important to many consumers – they want to know where their food comes from, how it’s grown and how it’s processed. Tours of poultry farms are limited due to biosecurity practices that are implemented to protect flock health. To get around this obstacle, the MTGA has put out these videos on their website to provide the public the opportunity to look inside a turkey barn.”

Brey is one of the 450 turkey farmers in the state of Minnesota, and he was thrilled to be able to share his family’s turkey farm on the video. “This is my 30th year in the turkey business. I started picking eggs from the previous owner…and then eventually purchased the farm. It was an honor for me to share my family’s story and life on our farm in this video,” said Brey.

Minnesota ranks number one in turkey production in the United States, producing around 46 million turkeys per year. Turkey farms like Brey’s are where the turkey life cycle begins.

Even though all farms may look different from each other, all farmers pay close attention to bird health. In the video, Brey explains the different practices on his farm to maintain bird health – from biosecurity, barn temperature, ventilation, nutrition, and much more. Farmers go to great measures to ensure good health and well-being of their birds to produce a safe product for consumers.

“As you enjoy your Thanksgiving meal this year, be sure to remember that it may be a Minnesota turkey farmer that helped get the turkey to your table!” said Olson.

Brey’s video can be viewed on MinnesotaTurkey.com or YouTube.
Learn more about Minnesota turkey farm families at MinnesotaTurkey.com.

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 450 turkey farmers raising an estimated 46 million turkeys in 2017. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S.

For further information, visit www.minnesotaturkey.com or find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MinnesotaTurkey and Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey).

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What Happens on a Turkey Breeder Farm?

In my introduction blog, I introduced our farm as a “turkey breeder farm” and mentioned that I would write more about it later.  Here we are a few months down the road, so I thought it was about time I explain what goes on … on the farm!

We are all about turkey eggs!

Our hens will start to lay eggs when they are about 30 weeks of age (7.5 to 8 months old) and will stay in a laying cycle for about 28 weeks (7 months).  During a hen’s cycle on our farm, she will lay about 100 eggs.

Our hens are housed in a barn protected from our harsh Minnesota winters and hot summers, protected from neighboring predators such as coyotes, and are given a safe environment to lay their eggs.  Our hens are not kept in cages (in fact, cages are not common practice in raising turkeys)  – they roam freely and can enter and exit a nest on their own free will to lay their egg.

Most hens will lay their eggs in a nest (like the photo above); however there are some hens that lay their eggs on the floor.

The nests are all on a master timer.  The timer is set to go off on the hour for ten hours a day – in essence, the eggs are collected ten times a day from the nests.  How does this happen?  The back of the nest moves forward, gently pushing the hen out of the nest.

When it moves back to place, it gently pushes the egg onto a conveyor belt as you can see in this video:

The conveyor belt carries the egg to the front of the barn to a table:

 

Here, we are able to collect the eggs:

Because the hens lay their eggs in a nest, the eggs are laid in a clean environment (keeping in mind, we routinely clean the nests and tables).

Remember the eggs that are laid on the floor?  Those are also collected every hour by walking through the entire barn. This is also a time where we are checking the general health of our hens and making sure they have fresh water and feed.

After the eggs are collected from the tables and the floor, they are washed in our egg washer.  The egg washer is similar to a car wash – the eggs move through the washer on a belt

After they are washed, they are stored in our egg room.  The egg room is kept at 57-60 degrees Fahrenheit with low humidity.  In this environment, the eggs are kept in a dormant state until the egg truck arrives to take our eggs to a hatchery.  The egg truck comes to our farm twice a week. 

We sell our fertilized eggs to a hatchery.  Once they arrive at the hatchery, the eggs are placed in an incubator where they will stay for 28 days until they hatch – that’s how long it takes!  Turkey farmers (like my fellow bloggers Lynette and Pete) purchase baby turkeys (poults) that are one day old from the hatchery to raise on their farms to produce wholesome turkey for families like yours.

You may be asking yourself if turkeys lay eggs, then why don’t I see them in a grocery store.  Turkey eggs have a higher value (compared to chicken eggs), thus are not sold in grocery stores.  Turkeys are not as prolific and efficient when it comes to laying eggs as compared to the chicken that has been domesticated for thousands of years.

Until next time – thanks for reading!

The Family Business of Raising Turkeys

 

The Family Business of Raising Turkeys | via MinnesotaTurkey.com #turkeyeveryday #MNAg #turkeys #FarmHer

A lot has changed since my last Minnesota Turkey blog post – I am no longer the Ag Program Specialist and Membership Coordinator at the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.  I recently got the opportunity to return home to be the 6th generation on my family farm. I’ve been full-time on the farm now for one month and am blessed beyond belief that I get to continue our family tradition of raising turkey breeders (along with my husband who is also a high school agriculture teacher).

I want to take this opportunity to briefly talk about one of the many reasons Minnesota turkey farmers have been successful over the years and continue to be.  Many of the turkey farms in Minnesota are multi-generational – consisting of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th generations.  Knowledge is passed down from generation to generation.

The Family Business of Raising Turkeys | via MinnesotaTurkey.com #turkeyeveryday #MNAg #turkeys #FarmHer

On my family farm, there are currently three generations working together – myself being the youngest and my grandfather the oldest. This past month, I’ve been working alongside my grandfather – he is the ripe age of 85 and continues to be instrumental on our farm.  The experiences my grandfather has gained and the changes he’s seen in farming are irreplaceable.  Even though I’ve grown up helping on the farm my entire life, there’s a partial lack of understanding based on inexperience in keeping a business running, hen behavior at every age, disease symptoms, analyzing farm inputs, and managing the ventilation system and temperature in the barns with the changing Minnesota weather, to name a few examples.

The Family Business of Raising Turkeys | via MinnesotaTurkey.com #turkeyeveryday #MNAg #turkeys #FarmHer

I believe what impresses me the most is how we as a family and the turkey industry as a whole, have continued to improve how we raise and care for our turkeys.  Because we now raise our turkeys in barns, we are able to raise turkeys year round in a comfortable temperature.  My grandfather has told me stories of shoveling turkeys out of snow that were buried in an early fall snow storm, or pulling turkeys out of mud after a heavy spring rain. We are now able to vaccinate for many diseases that my grandfather and his family fought to prevent from sickening their turkeys. The feed our turkeys consume at every age fulfill their requirements – a turkey hen laying eggs has different mineral and vitamin needs than a poult (baby turkey). Turkeys are curious creatures, so our waterers and feeders are bright colors such as green, red, and yellow – which help encourage poults to drink and eat.

The Family Business of Raising Turkeys | via MinnesotaTurkey.com #turkeyeveryday #MNAg #turkeys #FarmHer

How we raise turkeys today is very different from how my grandfather’s family raised turkeys many, many years ago.  Through the years, he has learned many things that are getting passed down to me.  Many of those things are helping mold me into a better farmer and a better care taker of our turkeys.