Raising Thanksgiving turkeys can be a complicated process
Rising grain prices pose challenge
By Stephani Duff
NEW CARLISLE–Second generation ownership and innovative techniques allow Bowman and Landes to offer customers the best in poultry products for not just Thanksgiving Day, but every day.
Carl Bowman, second generation co-owner of Bowman Landes, explained the process of getting a turkey ready for Thanksgiving dinner.
“We get them as a one day old poult, which gives us the opportunity to take the time to get them barn ready; that requires that we keep them in small bunches under heat lamps to keep them from smothering each other and near the heat. This process is quite labor intensive and then they will be in the barn for seven weeks,” Bowman explained. “Once they reach seven weeks we let them out doors to free range; they have to be seven weeks to withstand the weather and are strong enough to fight off small animal predators.”
Bowman said they start out each year with approximately 70,000 turkeys with some dying from natural causes or from predators; they run this large operation with one shift of people in charge of production of turkey and growing of grains of around 2,700 acres of corn, soy beans and wheat. Bowman Landes has around 30 employees year round and seasonally, in November and December, get up to around 170 employees for harvesting. Although Bowman and Landes is largely known for their production of Thanksgiving Day turkeys they also grow turkeys for processing, such as breasts and roasts, and whole turkeys for their small, in house meat market.
Bowman said the majority of their marketing is done directly with a small amount of direct store delivery.
“We also have small distributors in Indiana and Delaware who have connections with health food stores on the East Coast and co-ops, but our primary marketing is in Ohio and southern Indiana,” Bowman said.
Bowman and Landes’ claim to fame is that their turkeys are raised free range and on a diet that is antibiotic free, but the real selling point is that there is no animal by-product in the feed that the turkeys receive.
“We give them a mixture of corn, soy meal, vitamins, minerals, micro nutrients and vegetable oil versus animal fat,” explained Bowman. “Our turkeys are conditioned to be the best Thanksgiving Day turkeys because of how we grow them, exercise them, and because we don’t use growth promotants; they eat more because they are more active and burning more calories.”
According to Bowman the biggest obstacle they are facing in the poultry industry right now is the price of grain and soy having almost doubled, but the consolation to that is that in stores all proteins and vegetables are rising in cost, as well. Disease prevention also is something that Bowman Landes is serious about, so they must be careful about who is around the turkeys as well as giving them pro-biotics, using acids and enzymes.
As Bowman Landes raises their turkeys in a free range, antibiotic free environment, they are finding that they are meeting consumer expectations.
“Free range and antibiotic free animal raising is very en vogue right now and that makes it easier to meet the expectations of our consumers,” Bowman said. “People have come to expect that turkey is a healthier option for eating lean versus red meat so we meet those expectations by providing different turkey products other than whole turkeys; we have turkey pastrami, turkey ham, smoked turkey, and mesquite turkey, as well as turkey filets, turkey mignon (a turkey breast with turkey bacon around it) and turkey cube steaks.”
Bowman has noticed that the trend of hospitals and colleges wanting turkeys is on the rise; “Better proteins and buying local seem to be an increased interest and we are coming to find that our turkeys are no longer just for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner tables.”
Carl Bowman is co-owner of Bowman Landes with his sister, Anita, and two other partners, Stan and Steve Landes; all four co-owners are second generation and they have younger generations working at the company full time now, too. For more information on production, pricing, history and how to order your Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, visit bowmanlandes.com.