Duerksen Turkey Farm Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

We all think about turkeys in November. But farmer Rick Duerksen is thinking about turkeys all year round.

Those Thanksgiving turkeys don’t just appear in our grocery aisles. Farmers like Rick Duerksen grow them from the time they’re born until the fateful Turkey day.

He’s a third generation turkey farmer in Mancelona and has been raising turkeys since the 1979.

“Our busy time is June to December,” said Duerksen. “We get a lot of [turkey orders] after Labor Day and we’re usually sold out by the first of November.”

The turkey hatch lings are born in the summertime. They are extra delicate and need humidity and temperature-controlled homes.

“Once the turkeys get older, we put them out in the field, we pasture raise the turkeys…they’re constantly in fresh grass,” said Duerksen. “We use a clean feed, we do not use antibiotics…which we feel makes the difference, so it’s rewarding.”

By November, they are 19 weeks old and ready for Thanksgiving. This is the time when things get really busy at the Duerksen farm. His team puts in 18-hour days leading up to Thanksgiving to get ready.

“It is a long week, long hours six days, we will do about 200 birds a day during that time,” said Duerksen. “We are glad when it’s over.”

Duerksen said this year the turkeys grew especially fast and were very healthy. He will sell 1,200 turkeys this holiday.

Despite all the hard work and long days, Thanksgiving is still Farmer Duerksen’s favorite holiday.

“Thanksgiving is the one day that the turkey has,” said Duerksen. “It’s kind of nice to eat our turkey dinner and do nothing.”

When the holiday is all said and done, thus begins the prep for next year. But this Thursday, Rick will just sit back and enjoy his very own, home-grown bird.

“It’s kind of nice to eat our turkey dinner and do nothing,” said Duerksen.

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