Episode #18: Turkey Breeders | Turkey mini-series ep. 1

What The Cluck! - the podcast of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and the Chicken and Egg Association of Minnesota

Have you ever wondered what it takes to own and manage a turkey breeder farm? Episode #18 of What The Cluck! Podcast is all about turkey breeders and the care and precision required to raise these hens for producing poults. Host Steve Olson is joined by Dr. Michelle Behl, Director of Poult Quality for Select Genetics in Willmar, Minn. and Loren “Butch” Brey, owner of Brey Farms in Sleepy Eye, Minn. The three discuss the egg laying process, hatching, incubation and poultry quality.

This is the first episode of six in our first ever “Turkey mini-series” that focuses on different aspects of raising turkeys.

Learn more about turkey breeders and farming at the following links:

Start a Ripple of Agricultural Change | 2018 AASC

Lettuce, turkeys and a logger share a lot in common when they convene together to discuss the successes and challenges each face as leaders in their industries. These stories and several others were shared at the eighth annual Ag and Animal Science Conference (AASC) at the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar, Minn.

Agriculture and animal science stakeholders across the Midwest heard a collective narrative on the economics of agriculture, what various companies are doing to face today’s agricultural challenges and sharing the story of modern agriculture in a manner that evokes positive change in outside opinions toward agriculture.

The day kicked off with Tony DeLisi from Avalanche Consulting presenting on “Regional Collaboration in Agriculture and Animal Science.” DeLisi discussed the current economics of agriculture and explained how the industry has a greater impact when various groups join forces in collaboration and education as seen in the KC Animal Health Corridor.

AASC Conference \ Minnwest Technology Campus

This year’s theme was storytelling and was filled with various storytellers sharing their company’s history, expansions and where they’re heading into the future. Those who presented include: Natasha Mortenson, Community Relations from Riverview LLP, Kevin Ortenblad, Founder with Lettuce Abound, Kevin Lynch, VP of Operations at Aviagen, and MTGA farmer member Erica Sawatzke, Owner at Oakdale Farm.

AASC Conference \ Minnwest Technology Campus

Mortenson shared the dairy perspective of increasing Riverview’s size while respecting their company mission of teamwork and building personal strengths of their employees. Ortenblad and his family grow aeroponic lettuce that is sold for a premium and discussed the challenges of breaking into the competitive food market. Lynch explained the history of growing and merging companies to create Select Genetics (Aviagen) and some future goals as they continue to be a leader in turkey breeding. Sawatzke shared her family farm’s history, their daily operations and the challenges farming brings each day.

After lunch, a panel discussed “Perspectives on the Value & Impact of Agriculture.” MTGA’s own Lara Durben and farmer member Loren Brey were two of the panelists. A few questions brought to the panel revolved around social media, challenges each faces in their careers and how to be impactful withagricultural messaging.

AASC Conference \ Minnwest Technology Campus

The day concluded with keynote speaker Bruce Vincent President of Environomics who paralleled the challenges faced by the logging industry to agriculture’s modern issues and how the timber industry learned to work with a concerned public through impactful legislation and messaging. Secondly, Vincent shared how activism matters in business. Getting involved locally and starting a ripple of change is the best way to make a lasting difference.

AASC Conference \ Minnwest Technology Campus

AASC is an annual conference held at the Minnwest Technology Campus in Willmar, Minn. The event aims to bring the region’s top agriculture and animal science stakeholders to convene to discuss some of the industry’s most pressing issues. Registration is complimentary for qualifying ag professionals. For information on the 2019 AASC, visit


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 or YouTube.
Learn more about Minnesota turkey farm families at

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 or find us on Facebook: and Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey).



MTGA and MTRPC Board Election Results Announced

Contact:  Lara Durben

Phone:    (763) 682-2171


Note: Photos available up on request

(Buffalo, MN)… The Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council (MTRPC) and the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association have announced election results for each of its Boards of Directors.

The newly elected directors are:


Region 2

Paul Kvistad, Kvistad Poultry, Wood Lake (Incumbent)

At-Large Positions

Ken Gleaves, Turkey Valley Farms, Marshall


Region 1

Scott Heymer, Red Bridge Farms, Princeton (incumbent)

Also appointed to an Allied position on the MTGA Board was Barry Koppen of Purina Animal Nutrition. This is Koppen’s first term on the MTGA board.

At-Large Positions

Eddie “Max” Velo, Evelo Inc., Rothsay (Grower-At-Large)

Loren Brey, Brey Farms, New Ulm (Breeder-At-Large)

All elected Board directors will serve three-year terms and assumed their seats on March 1. Each of these boards meet approximately six times per year to guide MTRPC and MTGA activities, respectively.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is the agency responsible for conducting and certifying the MTRPC election, which was conducted by mail-in ballot in January. MTGA members voted for its Board election at the MTGA annual meeting on March 15 in Saint Paul, Minn.

Elected directors are listed alphabetically below, along with biographical information:

Loren Brey – MTRPC

Loren Brey is the owner of Brey Farms in Brown County, near Sleepy Eye, MN; he has been involved in the turkey industry for 30 years. Loren and his wife Brenda, raise 20,000 breeder hens a year on their farm. In addition to raising breeder hens, Loren also grows corn and soybeans. Loren has served as a school board member for several years for the Lafayette Charter School.

Loren and Brenda have two daughters – Morgan and Courtney.

Ken Gleaves – MTGA

Ken has been involved in the turkey industry for 38 years. Ken started in the turkey industry as a brooding manager for Shinn Turkeys in central Nebraska. He ended his time there managing three farms, feeding four farms and running two feed mills. Also, in that time, Ken and his wife, Diane had their own small hen farm for eight years.

During Ken’s time in Nebraska, he served on the board of directors for the Nebraska Turkey Growers Coop in Gibbon, NE, the only turkey processing plant in the state for many years. He was also involved in the Nebraska Poultry Industries.

Ken worked with the Willmar Poultry Company for seven years, first in the breeder division, then as a manager for company commercial farms. In 2014, Ken moved to Turkey Valley Farms and serves as their live production coordinator.

Ken and his wife Diane reside in Willmar. They have been married for 38 years and have five children and three grandchildren.

Scott Heymer – MTRPC

Scott Heymer, the owner of Red Bridge Farms, Inc. in Princeton, has been involved in the turkey industry for 40 years. Annually he raises 150,000 heavy toms.

Scott and his wife Lennea have been married for 32 years and have two children: Becky and Brian. Brian has joined them in working on the farm. 

Barry Koppen – MTGA

Barry Koppen lives in Spicer, MN with his wife Megan. He has a Financial Economics degree from Gustavus Adolphus College. Barry started his career working for Jennie-O Turkey Store in 2010 as an Area Supervisor working the Benson Area servicing company, lease, and contract farms.

Barry started at Purina Animal Nutrition in 2013 as a Poultry Sales Specialist. At Purina, he works with turkey, pheasant, layer, and broiler producers across the country to provide them with feed ingredients, complete feed, and nutritional services.

Paul Kvistad – MTGA

Paul Kvistad, a second generation turkey farmer from Yellow Medicine County, owns and operates Paul Kvistad Poultry, which produces 200,000 light hens per year.

Currently Paul is serving on the Education/Workforce Committee for MTGA and has been on the board of the Yellow Medicine County Corn Growers for 15 years. He served as a past member/president for the Echo Lions Club for 12 years and a past board member for the Farmers Co-op Elevator for 9 years. In addition, he continues to usher at Swan Lake Church.

Paul and his wife Jamie have three sons: Hunter, Payton and Brock.

Max Velo – MTRPC

Max Velo has been actively involved in the turkey industry for 12 years. With a farm in Ottertail County, he raises 400,000 hens per year. Max is particularly interested in domestic and international turkey markets, as well as animal health.

Max’s family consists of Piper, Daryl, Kelsey, Alanna and Nita.

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 approximately 46 million turkeys annually. Minnesota has the most independent turkey farmers of any state in the U.S.


MTRPC is the oldest check-off based commodity organization in Minnesota, celebrating 50 years in 2015. Since 1965, the MTRPC has worked diligently to encourage consumers to eat more turkey year-round, sponsor innovative turkey research and educate a variety of audiences about the benefits of turkey. Programming at the MTRPC is funded by a voluntary grower checkoff program.

For further details on both organizations, visit ,, find us on Facebook ( and follow us on Twitter (@MinnesotaTurkey).