8 Myths (and Truths) about Turkey Farming

Olthoff, Katie FB photoGuest blogger, Katie Olthoff, is a former teacher and farm wife in Central Iowa.  She blogs about her life On the Banks of Squaw Creek and shares DIY decorating projects, trials and tribulations of parenting two little boys, and daily life on her family’s turkey farm.  Katie has also written a non-fiction children’s book about turkey farms for teachers to use this November.  Today, Katie is sharing several myths about turkey farming.


Myth#1: Turkeys are raised on “factory farms.”

Truth: Today’s turkey farms are very efficient, which does sort of make them like a factory.  But Iowa’s turkey farms are all family farms, many with two or three generations working side by side on a daily basis.


Myth #2: Raising turkeys in barns is bad for them.IMG_0244

Truth: Barns protect birds from severe weather like last year’s polar vortex, predators like coyotes, and disease that can be spread by other birds.


Myth #3: Turkeys are crowded in barns.

Truth: It’s hard to get a good picture of how much space turkeys have in barns.  The birds are social and “flock” towards anyone in the barns, including photographers.  But our barns are big, and what you can’t see in the background is a lot of wide open space.  Our turkeys have plenty of room to move around, even when they are full grown.  It just doesn’t always look that way in photos.


Myth #4: Steroids and hormones are used to make turkeys grow large.

Truth: There are no steroids or hormones used in turkey production in the United States.  Today’s turkeys are large because of traditional breeding and better nutrition.


Myth #5: Antibiotics are over-used in the turkey industry.IMG_0016

Truth: We work closely with veterinarians to use antibiotics to prevent, treat and control disease.  We take the decision to administer antibiotics very seriously and use them cautiously.


Myth #6: There are antibiotics in our meat.

Truth: There are strict withdrawal times for antibiotic use, which means that farmers have to wait a specified amount of time before sending the birds to market.  And every flock is tested for antibiotic residues before it is processed, so you can be sure there are no antibiotics in your meat.


Myth #7: Eating turkey makes you tired.

Truth: L-Tryptophan often takes the blame for the sleepiness you feel after a big Thanksgiving meal.  But chicken actually has more tryptophan than turkey!  Most experts agree that your post-meal fatigue comes from the high amount of carbs that are traditionally consumed at Thanksgiving.


Myth #8: Roasting a turkey is hard.IMG_0241

Truth: Most turkeys come pre-basted, which means that they are going to be delicious no matter what you do!  It does not take a complicated recipe to roast a turkey, but the Iowa Turkey Federation answers all your questions in their free cookbook.

One thought on “8 Myths (and Truths) about Turkey Farming

  1. When I was a child, 60 yrs ago, we raised up 1000 turkeys a year , one of the last turkey farms to dry pick turkeys. May to Slaughter, they were fenced in on range. Predators certainly were an issue. Lots of good memories of the gobblers.


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