ROUGEMONT, NC – Thanksgiving is fast approaching and that can only mean one thing: lots of turkey.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, stocks of frozen turkeys are 24% lower than their three-year average volumes, and part of the reason is the increased cost of turkey feed.
North Carolina ranks among the top turkey producing states in the country and 2021 was Bull City Farm’s most successful year. They have pre-sold more turkeys this year than ever before, but co-owner Samantha Gasson says they still have challenges ahead.
“This is by far the most important month, the busiest month. Basically, whoever raises and sells turkeys, that’s kind of the thing, ”Gasson said. “Oh, do you want me to talk to you now?” You know it’s November, don’t you? “
Gasson will tell you that being a turkey farmer is no easy task.
“It’s crazy. It’s just hard. Unless you’ve done it, it’s really hard to figure out,” Gasson said.
This job is even more complex when you engage in raising pasture raised birds.
“We put them in a nice, big enclosure so they can run around and hunt things and we move them every four to seven days. Each time you move that wire, it takes about three hours, ”Gasson said.
But Gasson thinks it’s one of the best ways to do that kind of work, and says it’s been one of their most successful years so far.
“We make turkey year round, so we always buy enough to be able to do year round. Last year we pre-sold, just for Thanksgiving, 111. This year we’re at 125 or 126, ”Gasson said.
But it’s not without some challenges, one being a chick supply issue. Turkeys also need a lot of food.
“They eat a lot, so they consume 150 pounds a day,” Gasson said. “It really makes sense because these guys eat a lot. They feed and can get a lot from insects and everything, but now that the insects aren’t really there anymore, they get most of the nutrients from their food and they eat a lot because they’re fat.
For Gasson, the biggest difference this year has been finding high-quality food that hasn’t gone up in price.
“Our food costs have all gone up and they’ve gone up a lot. So it’s not just like they’ve gone up $ 0.50 for 100 pounds or $ 0.50 for 50 pounds. They went up $ 3 or $ 4 for every 50 pounds, ”Gasson said. “I think people have been very spoiled with really cheap meat, but this cheap meat has a cost and that cost is the welfare of the animal.”
Despite all of this, Gasson loves what she does and says she is already thinking about planning Thanksgiving next year and that they could try another breed of turkey so their birds aren’t as big as they are. were this year.