Sustainable Production Systems for Range-Reared Standard Turkeys

2005 Annual Report for ES05-078

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2005: $109,444.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Marjorie Bender
American Livestock Breeds Conservacy

Sustainable Production Systems for Range-Reared Standard Turkeys


Sustainable Production Systems for Range-Reared Standard Turkeys Abstract

Information on range production of naturally-mating, standard varieties of turkeys (a.k.a. “heritage” turkeys) is urgently needed. Through a SSARE R & E Grant (LS02-134) the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and Virginia Tech have conclusive evidence that standard turkeys have more robust immune systems, better survivability, and superior overall performance in range-based systems than commercial strains. Information on range production of standard turkeys is, however, largely out-of-print. A diverse collaboration proposes to train agricultural professionals about range production of standard turkeys. Two regional workshops will be held on farms. A training manual, consisting of a series of topic-based pamphlets will be published which will integrate traditional information on production with contemporary information on diseases, processing and marketing. Participants’ outreach efforts will be supported with materials and personnel.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Behavior-based Objectives

1. Ag professionals will become familiar with range production of standard turkeys. Participants will…

a. Be able to define the terms “naturally-mating”, “heritage” and “standard”;
b. Understand the recent research on standard turkeys which validates their conservation;
c. Understand the value of range production based on market trends and consumer preferences;
d. Be able to identify and name the standard varieties of turkeys;
e. Be able to outline the steps of range production from ordering poults through brooding, from pasturing and feeding through processing;
f. Be able to describe market niches, distribution options, and related regulations;
g. Be able to assist producers in developing a marketing strategy for this enterprise;
h. Be able to help farmers develop enterprise budgets and provide the economics of production based on regional and state specific data; and
i. Understand the regional infrastructure needed to successfully bring turkeys to the marketplace.

2. Ag professionals will be able to effectively disseminate information about range production of standard turkeys.


Hire Project Manager

Jeannette Beranger was hired to manage this project. Jeannette comes with a background in the management of exotic and domestic animals in zoos. She realized the serious degree of endangerment faced by domestic livestock and poultry species. As a result she directed resources and attention at the Roger Williams Park Zoo to their livestock exhibit. Subsequently, she worked for the SVF Foundation obtaining livestock germplasm for cryopreservation. She joined the ALBC staff in August 2005, and immediately began work on this project.

Outline and develop manual content

Much has happened over the past 6 months with the SSARE PDP. A vast majority of this time has been spent working on the turkey husbandry manual. The manual is well on its way at this time and is progressing as scheduled.

The first task initiated last fall was to organize the identified collaborators for the project and finalize chapter topics. During Sept/Oct of 2005 a final draft of chapter subjects was produced and approved. Chapters are as follows:

  1. Choosing a variety and Obtaining poults

    Brooding and brooder pens

    Pasturing turkeys – Using existing on-farm resources, using turkeys to improve pastures,
    using turkeys for soil nutrients, post-crop gleaning and pest management

    Feeds and Feeding of Free-Ranged Turkeys

    Common diseases and health problems of turkeys

    Facilities, fencing, and shelters


    Predator management

    Processing the harvest

    Processing and Marketing Regulations for Producers

    Considerations for organic production

    Promotion – labeling, field days, tastings

    Connecting with the consumer – Marketing systems and effective approaches

    Economics of standard turkey production on range


    Resources list

Chapter assignments were subsequently given out to individuals based on their particular expertise with heritage turkeys.

Progress continued through the fall and outlines for each of the chapters were completed by Nov/Dec of 2005.

With the completion of the chapter outlines, rough drafts for the chapters could begin. As of March 2006, rough drafts for chapters 1,2,5,7,9,10, and 12 are currently being worked on by ALBC staff in the Pittsboro office and chapters 3,4,6, and 8 are nearing completion by collaborators outside of the office and should be arriving over the next several weeks.

The current timeline for completion of the turkey husbandry manual is as follows:

Late April – completion of rough drafts for all chapters
Late June / Mid July – completion of chapter review and proof-reading
July / Aug – publication of manual

Progress has been good on the project and many new facets of turkey husbandry have come to light during the research process for the chapters. It is certain that the information within the manual will be useful for producers and contains elements that will be useful for both new and seasoned turkey farmers.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

An exciting result from the turkey husbandry manual chapter development is the production of a listing of USDA or State inspected processing plants in the US. Such a listing for producers has not been updated or easily available for several years. With the help of Ann Fanatico of Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA), this listing will be made available on the ATTRA website and will be an interactive page that can be easily updated as processors come and go. This will be an invaluable resource for producers seeking processing for their birds.

We have also learned that Turkey Management by Stanley Marsden and J. Holmes Martin, published in 1955 and now out of print, is no longer under copyright, to the best of our knowledge based on copyright research. This is the American Livestock Breed Conservancy’s very favorite publication on standard turkey husbandry. We are able to draw heavily from it for many chapters.


Tarri Street

[email protected]
Shepherd's Hill Farm
673 SW Ichetucknee Ave
Lake City, FL
Office Phone: 3867550941
Bill McBrayer

Heritage Turkey Breeder
Rural Route 1 Box 1738
Wheatland, MO 65779-9707
Office Phone: 4172826337
Sep Harvin

[email protected]
Williamsburg Packing Company
920 Eastland Ave
Kingstree, SC 29556
Office Phone: 8433556447
Holly Born

[email protected]
Program Specialist, Economics & Marketing
National Center for Appropriate Technology
PO Box 3657
AR 72702
Office Phone: 4794429824
Sam Ormont

[email protected]
Heritage Turkey Breeder
2170 Bull Run Lane
Adams Run, SC 29426
Office Phone: 8436973000
Linda Landrum

[email protected]
Marketing & Rural Development
UF/IFAS Suwannee County Extension
7580 County Road 136
Live Oak, FL 32064
Office Phone: 3863621725
Jeannette Beranger

[email protected]
Research and Technical Program Manager
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
P.O. Box 477
Pittsboro, NC 27312
Office Phone: 9195425704
Alan Moore

[email protected]
Lowcountry Local First
1345 Ave G #AA
North Charleston, SC 29405
Office Phone: 8437405444
Janelle Holden

[email protected]
Executive Director
Predator Conservation Alliance
P.O. Box 6733
Bozeman, MT 59771
Office Phone: 4062230962
Carole Addlestone

[email protected]
Slow Food - Charleston
Charleston, SC
Office Phone: 8432254307
Darlene McElwee

[email protected]
Magnolia Farms
12886 87th Rd
Live Oak, FL 32060
Office Phone: 3863646450
Julie Helm, DVM, DACPV

[email protected]
SC NPIP Coordinator, Animal Health Programs
Climson University Livestock-Poultry Health Div.
PO Box 102406
Columbia, SC 29224-2406
Office Phone: 8032606442
Barbara Bowman

[email protected]
Boss Dog Marketing
PO Box 1494
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Office Phone: 7074338484
Thomas E. Peterson

Extension Veterinarian
Florida A & M University
Tallahassee, FL 32307
Calvert Larson

VA Tech Poultry Specialist (retired)
VA Tech
204 Alleghany St.
Christiansburg, VA 24073
Office Phone: 5403823211
Scott Hammann

[email protected]
Poultry Processor
Rock Enon Poultry
40999 Sestak Rd
Russellville, MO 65074
Office Phone: 5733019950
Danny Williamson

[email protected]
Heritage Turkey Production and Selection Expert
Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch
3441 Mustang
Tampa, KS 67483
Office Phone: 7852275149
Jennifer Kendall

[email protected]
Communications & Marketing Manager
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
PO Box 477
Pittsboro, NC 27312
Office Phone: 9195425704
Ann Fanatico

[email protected]
Agriculture Specialist
Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas
PO Box 3657
Fayetteville, AK 72702-3657
Office Phone: 8664426085
Elena Toro

[email protected]
Agriculture/Natural Resources Extenstion Agent
UF/IFAS Suwannee County Extension
7580 County Road 136
Live Oak, FL 32064
Office Phone: 3863622771
Alex Hitt

[email protected]
Peregrine Farm
Graham, NC
Office Phone: 3363766320
Brad Burbaugh

[email protected]
Agriculture/Natural Resources Extension Agent
UF/IFAS Duval County Extension
1010 N. McDuff Avenue
Jacksonville, FL 32254
Office Phone: 9043814689
Don Schrider

[email protected]
Communications Director
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
P.O. Box 477
Pittsboro, NC 27312
Office Phone: 9195425704
Jeff May

[email protected]
Regional Manager
Dawes Laboratories
729 SW Winterwalk LN
Lees Summit, MO 64081
Office Phone: 8477785593
Linda Hart

[email protected]
Turkey Producer
(Indepedent Producer)
Office Phone: 7725718657
Scott Beyer

[email protected]
Associate Professor of Poultry Science
Kansas State University
130 Call Hall
Manhatten, KS 66506
Office Phone: 7855321201
Barbara Mracek

[email protected]
SS Enterprises Poultry Processing
9010 Richardsville Rd.
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Office Phone: 2707773214
Jesse Grimes

[email protected]
Professor of Poultry Science
North Carolina State University
235 Scott Hall
Raleigh, NC 27695
Office Phone: 9195155406
Mike Walters

[email protected]
Walter's Hatchery
RR 3 Box 1409
Stilwell, OK 74960
Office Phone: 9187783535
Steve Moize

[email protected]
J.B.F. Processing
2305 Jay Shambley Rd.
Pittsboro, NC 27312
Office Phone: 9197426584
Dennis Epperly

[email protected]
MO Dept of Ag Poultry Health
21501 Farm Rd 1120
Cassville, MO 65625
Office Phone: 4178465439