WHAT ARE TURKEYS?
A large domesticated bird with white plumage. The male turkey is
called a tom, the female turkey is called a hen and the young are
WHERE ARE TURKEYS PRODUCED IN BC?
While turkeys are grown throughout BC in small flocks, commercial
production is largely concentrated in the Fraser Valley. The only
turkey breeder operation in BC is located in the Central Fraser
HOW MANY TURKEYS DO WE PRODUCE?
BC's 56 turkey producers produce about 15 million kilograms of
turkey annually. That's about 1.9 million turkeys per year. In 1996,
turkey farmers were paid a total of $28.8 million for their birds.
HOW ARE TURKEYS PRODUCED?
are artificially inseminated once a week for 22 weeks to produce
fertilized eggs for next year's turkeys. The eggs are incubated for
26 days then moved to a hatcher for 2 days where they hatch. They
are sold to producers as day-old poults and shipped to farms in
temperature controlled trucks where they are placed on litter made
up of wood shavings. At a day old, they weigh 65g. Tom turkeys are
grown to 13.4kg by 16 weeks while hens are grown to 8kg in 13 to
13.5 weeks. Some turkeys are sold at 5.5kg at 11 weeks. These are
known as broiler turkeys. Tom turkeys require 2.3kg of feed per
kilogram of weight gain. This is called feed conversion. Hen turkeys
have a feed conversion of 2.2 and broiler turkeys, 2.0.
WHAT DOES A TURKEY LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?
Turkey used to be consumed largely at Thanksgiving, Christmas,
New Years and Easter as roasted whole birds. However, more and more
turkey is now being consumed cut-up as drumsticks, as boneless
turkey rolls, as turkey burger or as turkey sausage. There is an
increasing interest in using turkey as a deli meat, such as sliced
turkey breast. These new further processed products have resulted in
a more even distribution of demand for turkey throughout the year,
so that turkey is becoming less and less a strictly seasonal
commodity. Turkey meat is low in cholesterol and fat.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE TURKEY LEAVES THE FARM?
The turkeys are loaded into cages on a truck when they are ready
for market. The birds are trucked to a primary processing plant for
slaughter. There are two primary processing plants in the Fraser
Valley which slaughter turkey. The birds are loaded out of the truck
and hung on shackles that move through the processing plant. The
birds are first stunned electrically before being slaughtered so
that any suffering is minimized. They are then defeathered,
eviscerated and packaged or sent to be further processed into turkey
products. Some birds are sold as "whole bodied birds" to
other plants that only produce further processed turkey products but
don't have a shackle line for slaughtering turkey. Federal
inspectors inspect each bird that moves through the processing plant
to ensure it is safe for human consumption. The turkeys are then
sent to retail outlets, hotels, or restaurants. Some are shipped to
institutions such as old age homes and hospitals.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO TURKEY PRODUCERS FACE?
Producers in BC are faced with the challenge of low priced
products moving across the border into BC and consumers going to the
states to purchase turkey. This reduces farmers' income and reduces
the jobs they are able to supply to young people working on the
farms. Rising costs of production and declining prices have been
major challenges to the turkey industry in the last 5 years.
Producers have had to overcome declining prices by implementing
efficient production systems. Farmers must be good managers and care
for their birds properly in order to survive in the business.
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING TURKEYS?
- Turkey breeders
- Turkey producers
- Equipment suppliers
- Feed company nutritionists and field men
- Turkey hauling companies
- Processing and further processing companies
- Retail, hotel, restaurant and institutions
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Provincial animal health veterinarians
- Federal government inspectors
- Government extension personnel
- BC Avian Monitoring Laboratory
Interesting Fact About Turkeys:
Turkeys are difficult to raise because they have difficulty
learning to eat and drink in the first 5 days of life.
- Contacts and other resources:
- BC Turkey
- BCMAL -
- Canadian Turkey