Reviving Heritage Birds - A "Different" Option for your Holiday Turkey

You may want to start planning your Thanksgiving Feast sooner than later. That's because to put it all together this Fall, it may take you a little extra cash.

It's been a tough year for farmers all-around. On average, the USDA says they're only getting about 122 bushels per acre (and that's on the high end). That's pretty tough since during a normal year farmers are usually harvesting 160 bushels per acre or more.

So to put this into perspective - from 2010 to 2011 the average price for a Thanksgiving dinner jumped 13% and with this year's drought that price may go up even more. Especially for the big ticket item - the turkey.

Chris Holman and Maria Davis own a small farm in Custer - Nami Moon Farms. They are first generation farmers meaning they started their operation from nothing. It started out as a hobby farm, but has since turned into a small operation. They process about 3,400 chickens, 200 turkeys, and 300 ducks. They say it's been tough to make ends meet this year, and they have had to get creative.

Holman says, "This year with the drought and the extreme rise in corn, soy, and all the other commodities our cost just to get the animals to market was significantly higher. But we can't charge our customers all of that increase."

Right now, they're estimating their birds will go for about $4.50 a pound - which is slightly higher than last year.

But you should know, the birds they raise are not just your "conventional" bird. Holman and Davis are raising Heritage Birds. That means the birds are biologically capable of being raised in a way that closely matches that of wild turkeys. More than 10 different breeds fall into this classification. (to learn more about heritage birds check out the link: below) These birds are usually brightly colored and forage like their ancestors. These are quite different than what we get at the grocery store.

When you buy a frozen turkey you may think you are eating a bird that look like the traditional images we see during Thanksgiving; however, you are most likely eating a "conventional bird." These birds have been genetically selected and bred to produce what consumers want - large juicy breast in a fast turn around time. That also bodes well for the farmer - meaning they can get faster grower birds in a shorter amount of time with a smaller amount of feed, which results in more birds being processed. You should know there is nothing wrong with these modern day birds - but there are some people that are looking to get in touch with a more natural growing process.

If you are one of those people, you can get in touch with local producers through the Central Rivers Farm Shed (based out of Stevens Point). Check out the link below for more info. To learn more about Holman and Davis' operation - Nami Moon Farms - check out the link to their web site below.

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