Did YOU know that there was such a thing as a Presidential Pardon Turkey Flock 2014?
Have you ever heard of a turkey getting the ‘Presidential pardon‘ every year?
My family and I learned today what all of that entailed when we visited Cooper Farms in Ft Recovery, Ohio and their flock of Presidential hopefuls.
When did this all begin?
The presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey is a time-honored tradition that dates all the way back to 1873 and Ulysses S. Grant. It wasn’t until 1989 however, when President George H.W. Bush began the official presidential pardon.
How was Cooper Farms chosen?
Each year the honor of raising and presenting the National Thanksgiving Turkey is bestowed upon the chairman of the National Turkey Federation. This year’s chairman is Gary Cooper, an owner and the COO of Cooper Farms, a family-owned turkey company in Ohio. A special flock of turkeys was hatched in July in eager anticipation of an invitation from the White House and President Obama, and since then has been carefully raised by Mr. Cooper’s son Cole. This flock of 16 has been raised and groomed for the last 20 weeks in a miniature version of the barn and windmill that is located at the company’s headquarters in Oakwood, Ohio, where the family business began.
Where does this flock live?
The ‘Mini Cooper’ was constructed in the springtime to house this Presidential pardon turkey flock in the backyard of Cole and Vanessa Cooper so they could keep a close eye on the flock and watch them grow every day. This fall the Cooper’s have not only visited Ohio schools and student groups, they have also hosted groups on their farm as well. This particular flock has different colored birds from 4 varieties. These turkeys are used as an educational tool for students as well as a symbol of the 75 year anniversary of Cooper Farms and the National Turkey Federation.
I think a three-generation family farm that strives to feed families in a safe, healthy and secure manner is worth celebrating- don’t you?
The presidential pardon turkey flock was hatched on July 7, 2014 and when the chosen two reach Washington D.C. on November 26th for their official pardon they will be 20 weeks old. Turkey’s grow at a rapid weight. The poults we saw today are a mere days old and growing at a rate of .3 pounds a day. That’s pretty amazing. Gary and Cole Cooper will be driving the selected pair to our nations capitol, where they will have a date with a few dozen cameras and media personalities at the Willard Hotel before getting their pardon by President Obama. See the complete history of the presidential pardoned turkeys HERE.
Raising turkeys at Cooper Farms by the numbers…
*They hatch 15 million poults a year
*Raise 200,000 breeder hens
*Raise and process 210 million live pounds of turkey per year
*Process 4.6 million turkeys per year OR 18,500 birds a day
*Cook over 65 million pounds a year
*Raise tom turkeys to approximately 45 pounds each
*They have 18 company owned turkey breeding farms and 185 family contract turkey growers
In addition to turkeys, Cooper Farms has a large and successful hog, chicken (egg) and grain operation.
They raise and sell over 148 million live pounds of hogs a year
Produce over 74 million dozen table eggs a year
Produce over 832,000 tons of feed a year from the 15 million bushels of corn and 155,000 tons of soybean meal they purchase a year
Yes, those are millions you are seeing. It takes a lot to feed animals in a safe and healthy way and bio-security measures are carefully adhered to to not only protect the animals and resulting food supply, but also to protect those that work with the animals.
One thing to make note of is that this food system is cyclical. So many factors go into the pricing of products form the cost of grains, corn and soybeans used for feed, to availability of propane to heat all barns to the market price for the animals, to the demand from the end market (ie: Kroger, Meijer, etc). These are things I am not sure the consumer takes into account when they bemoan high prices. Like everything when one spoke in the wheel goes up, everything has to compensate to make a profit without compromising quality and safety. Just my 2¢!
Here are a few (OK, more than a few) fun photos of our day with the Coopers and I would like to thank them as well as the Ohio Poultry Association for inviting my family and I to visit presidential pardon turkey flock 2014.