Minnesota has 450 turkey farmers – many of whom are 3rd, 4th and 4th generation farm families – who raise approximately 46 million turkeys annually.
Did You Know?
- Minnesota is ranked #1 for both turkey production and processing in the U.S.
- Each turkey generates $17.46 of direct economic activity to the state.
- Minnesota’s turkey companies – Jennie-O Turkey Store, Turkey Valley Farms and Northern Pride Cooperative – employ over 7,600 people.
- Turkeys are allowed to move freely throughout the barn. They are not kept in cages.
- It takes 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30-pound turkey.
- To reach full grown, tom turkeys are raised for about 18 weeks and hens are full grown at 15 weeks.
- The average turkey has 3,500 feathers.
- Only tom turkeys “gobble;” hens “click”.
- Turkey meat packs more protein and less total fat than similar cuts of chicken and beef.
- Turkey is low in cholesterol and trans-fat free.
- A frozen turkey can last up to a year in the freezer.
Minnesota Turkey Facts
Click on the toggles below to learn more.
About Minnesota’s Turkey Industry
- Minnesota currently is ranked #1 for turkey production and is home to the world’s largest turkey hatchery company (Willmar Poultry Company) as well as the 2nd largest turkey processing company in the U.S. (Jennie-O Turkey Store).
- Minnesota’s turkey farmers raise approximately 46 million birds annually, bringing more than $600 million in income for farmers, processors and other related industries. Every Minnesota turkey generates $17.46 of direct economic activity to the state, according to a 2011 University of Minnesota study, providing $807 million in economic impact, a significant climb (from $507 milion) from the last time this study was undertaken in 2002.
- Minnesota has approximately 450 turkey farmers who operate 600 turkey farms.
- Minnesota has more independent turkey farmers than any other state in the U.S. Many of these farmers are 3rd, 4th and even 5th generation family farmers.
- The majority of turkeys raised in Minnesota are more likely to be shipped outside the state.
- Ninety (90) percent of turkey products processed in state are exported out of Minnesota.
- Of that 90 percent, approximately 15 percent are exported to international markets.
- The top five export markets for U.S. turkey meat (2012) were: Mexico, Canada , Hong Kong, Russia and South Korea
- The top 10 turkey-producing counties in Minnesota (based on liveweight, 2012 statistics) are:
- Minnesota’s top 2 counties also are ranked in the top 10 for largest turkey-producing counties in the U.S. – Kandiyohi (#5), Stearns (#9), according to 2005 figures from the National Turkey Federation.
- As the nation’s largest producer and processor of turkey, Minnesota is home to three turkey processing companies with a total of seven processing plants around the state.
- Jennie-O Turkey Store, the world’s 2nd largest processor of turkey, owns plants in Willmar, Melrose, Montevideo, Pelican Rapids and Faribault, with one additional plant in Barron, Wisconsin. Jennie-O Turkey Store handles approximately 1.342 billion pounds of turkey annually (2008) and is a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp. Its Minnesota plants employ about 5,300 workers, producing annual sales of $750 million and total economic activity of more than $2 billion.
- Turkey Valley Farms – one plant in Marshall. Turkey Valley Farms is ranked 16th among all turkey processing companies in the U.S.
- Northern Pride, Inc., a growers cooperative, owns one plant in Thief River Falls. Northern Pride is ranked 20th among all turkey processing companies in the U.S.
Turkey Farming Statistics
- The average turkey farmer raises three flocks per year. Each of these flocks is an average size of about 15,000 birds.
- In addition to well over $800 million in economic activity, the industry and its related businesses support 26,000 jobs in Minnesota.
- Turkeys annually consume $163 million of corn and $169 million of soybean meal, adding approximately $251 million to the value of corn and soybeans in Minnesota.
- Corn and soybean production to supply turkey producers employs the equivalent of 1,767 cash grain producers and employees.
All About Feeding a Turkey
- In the Midwest, ground corn and soybean meal are the major components of feed for turkeys. Other ingredients may be partially substituted for the corn and soybean meal, and minerals and vitamin supplements are added to a turkey’s diet. Feed and fresh water are available continuously to the turkeys.
- On average, it takes 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30-pound tom turkey.
- Today’s turkey production methods have shortened the time it takes to bring turkeys to maturity. Male (toms) and female (hens) commercial turkeys are grown separately due to their distinctly different growth rates. Age or size at marketing is determined by the type of meat product to be sold.
U.S. Turkey Facts
- An estimated 253.5 million turkeys were raised in the United States in 2012.
- Turkey exports are an increasingly important aspect of U.S. turkey production, especially for turkey parts and dark meat products. Total U.S. export value of turkey in 2012 was over $678.5 million. Exports now comprise just over 12 percent of total turkey production, compared with just over 2 percent in 1990.
- The top five export markets for U.S. turkey meat (2012) were: Mexico, China, Hong Kong, Canada and Dominican Republic.
Turkey Health & Well-Being
- There are no hormones or steroids approved for use in turkeys in the U.S.
- FDA approved antibiotics are used at times to help suppress microorganisms, prevent disease and ensure that consumers receive a healthy product. A withdrawal period is required after the time the antibiotic is administered and before the turkey can be processed. The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA monitors the administration of antibiotics and randomly tests flocks of turkeys for residues. Therefore, consumers can be assured that turkeys do not contain antibiotic residues when they go to market.
- Turkeys are raised in scientifically designed, environmentally controlled barns that provide maximum protection from predators, disease and bad weather. Turkeys roam freely around the barn. Fresh water and food are available at all times.
Consumer Turkey Tips
- Nutritionally, turkey has more protein than chicken or beef – plus fewer calories with zero trans- and saturated fat.
- Producing a quality, nutritious and safe product is the top priority for turkey farmers as well as turkey processing companies, which follow USDA guideliness for food safety. Consumers, too, need to do their part to ensure that turkey is handled properly in the kitchen and cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F., as measured by a food thermometer.
Sources: MN Turkey Fact Sheet August 2014 – Minnesota Turkey Research & Promotion Council, National Turkey Federation, University of Minnesota, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, 2011 Livestock Industry Benchmark Report from MN Agri-Growth Council/UMN