The cost of raising turkeys

October 14, 2018

Click here to reserve your pasture turkey. 

We thought you'd all like to know how we price our turkeys.  Do we pick a random number out of the air?  Nope.  Do we match Wal-Mart?  Not even possible.  So how do we price it?  We start with calculating our costs.

Let's break it down:

Cost of the baby turkey:  $9.19/bird

Cost of feed:  $27/bird (on average)

Cost of processing:  $8/bird on average (bigger birds cost more per pound)

Total cost so far:  $44.19.  

That doesn't include the daily labor of carrying feed and water to the birds or moving them ever few days to fresh pasture. It doesn't include the electricity they need the first month of life to keep them warm under heat lamps.  It doesn't include moving the electric fence every few days to give them fresh pasture.  It doesn't include the time and gas to transport them an hour away to have them processed.  In the past, we've processed them ourselves but that takes almost an hour each bird.  Turkeys are too heavy for our chicken plucker so we hand pluck them.  Usually after the second bird, I start crying and angrily asking my hubby, "Why??????"  "How many birds do we have?????".  So this year, it only makes sense to pay a professional who has the proper equipment to process them for us. It's cheaper than a mental breakdown and cheaper than our slow hand plucking rate. 

So back to the math.  Our turkeys will vary in weight, anywhere from 14 to 20 pounds (we hope).  Let's say the bird weighs 15 pounds.  $44.19/15=$2.94/pound NOT even charging for labor/electricity.  

We are selling our birds for $3.65/lb.  This comes out to about an $10/bird "profit" for us.  It takes about 141 days to raise our birds.  141 days/$10=14 cents a day for the labor of taking care of them.  Obviously, this isn't a large money maker.  Really, 14 pennies a day.  We started raising turkeys for us because we like to know where our food comes from.  We raise extra for others who call every year seeking pasture raised turkey.  Some are tired of the .89 cent/lb birds that were crammed indoors in unsavory conditions.  If you see our price and scoff at $3.65/lb all I can do is smile and nod.  While you puff up and tell me how much turkeys sell for at the big box store, all I can do is say I understand.  You aren't looking for what we are selling.  We won't ever compete with the large turkey farms.  We don't want to.  

So there it is.  How we price our turkeys.  Wanna know how we price our chicken, pork, and beef?  Same way.  Add up our costs and add a little "profit".  No wonder small farmers fail every year.  This is why we both work full time jobs.   If you glance at prices it is soooo easy to say "that costs too much" and choose something cheaper.  I like to be frugal too, so I understand.  But I also understand you get what you pay for.  I am willing to pay more to have peace of mind the food was raised right.  I am willing to pay more for a pound of hamburger to know it came from one cow, not 400.  I am willing to pay more for a cow that lived its entire life on grass rather than paying less to support the practice of feedlot beef.  We all get to choose.  All I ask is that when you see our prices, you understand our methods and you make an informed choice.   We can be friends either way. 

Rachael Ferguson

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