Turkey Facts

Minnesota's Turkey

For six generations, the Nelson family has been raising turkeys on Oakdale farms.

Minnesota has long been the turkey capital in the U.S. and some would argue in the world. In 1939, Minnesota's turkey farmers gathered together to form the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.

Since then, Minnesota has consistently ranked #1 in U.S. turkey production. Every year Minnesota turkey farmers raise 40-42 million birds.

A home-grown commodity, Minnesota boasts the largest number of independent turkey farmers in the nation.  

Minnesota is home to three locally-owned operators who bring turkeys from the farm to the supper table.

  • Jennie-O Turkey Store based in Willmar, Minnesota allows consumers to trace their whole turkey back to the farm.
  • Turkey Valley Farms is a grower-owned operation in Marshall, Minnesota and is known for packaging as many as 100 private labels, as well as, antibiotic-free and free-range birds.
  • Northern Pride in Thief River Falls, Minnesota is a cooperative of independent turkey farmers who, among other products, specialize in free-range, antibiotic-free, and organic turkeys.

Minnesota is also home to Select Genetics - the country's largest turkey hatchery - which is part of a collection businesses focused on STEM innovation.

Our 600 turkey farms and stakeholders, generate over $1 billion in economic activity for Minnesota and provide more than 26,000 jobs.

About Turkeys

A tom turkey will consume 75-80 pounds of feed on average.

Turkey Talk

  • Incubation period to hatch a turkey egg is 28 days
  • Baby turkey is called a poult
  • Male turkey is called a tom
  • Female turkey is called a hen
  • Most common breed of turkey we eat today is the Broad Breasted White
  • Hens take typically 14 weeks to reach maturity and weigh 15 pounds
  • Toms take typically 18 weeks to reach maturity and weigh 38 pounds

Turkey Environment

  • Barns provide a safe, comfortable home for turkeys with space to roam freely and are specially designed to maximize the health and comfort of the birds.
  • Barns keep predators away, help farmers control germs and diseases from getting to the birds, and allow maximum comfort – turkeys stay cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and dry during inclement weather.

Turkey Care

  • All turkeys in the U.S. are raised without any added hormones or steroids
  • Fed a balanced diet of corn and soybeans mixed with vitamins and minerals
  • Feed comes from Minnesota-grown corn and soybeans
  • Fresh, clean water available on-demand 24/7

Turkey Health

  • Licensed veterinary care is used to prevent and treat diseases
  • Nutrition and biosecurity are important tools for protecting turkey health
  • FDA-approved antibiotics are used when needed, just like you do for your family
  • Disease prevention includes vaccinations much like your family may use
  • Farmers closely monitor flocks to keep birds healthy

Turkey Safety

  • Federal agencies monitor the safety of poultry from before turkeys hatch until they reach your table
  • All turkey is free from antibiotic residue before it goes to market
  • Federal Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA monitors the administration of antibiotics and randomly tests flocks of turkeys for residues

Turkey - Your Best Choice

Turkey - Protein Packed

  • Whole Turkey 25 grams protein vs Whole Chicken 21 grams
  • Turkey Breast 26 grams protein vs Beef Tenderloin 23 grams

Turkey - Lean Choice

  • Whole Turkey 3 grams total fat vs Whole Chicken 6 grams
  • Turkey Breast 2 grams total fat vs Beef Tenderloin 8 grams

Turkey - Vitamins and Minerals

  • Rich in B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (cobalamin) vitamins
  • Contains abundance of cancer-fighting antioxidant selenium
  • Good source of iron to keep you healthy
  • Fortifies immune system with zinc content
  • Provides hearty dose of phosphorus for strong bones and teeth

Learn more about the health benefits of eating turkey here: https://www.eatturkey.org/resources/

Turkey Fun Facts

Did you know?

First Meal on the Moon

Turkey packs more protein and less fat compared to other similar cuts of chicken/beef.
  • When Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin sat down for their first meal on the moon, their foil food packets contained roasted turkey and all the trimmings

Turkey as the Official United States Bird

  • Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey as the official United States bird.  Dismayed by news of the selection of the bald eagle, Franklin replied, “The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original of America”


  • About 46 million turkeys are eaten around Thanksgiving nationally

U.S. Households Consumption

  • 5.3 billion pounds of turkey were consumed in the U.S. (about 16 pounds per person) in 2019

National Month

  • June is National Turkey Lovers Month


  • Turkeys have approximately 3,500 feathers at maturity.

Big Bird on Sesame Street

  • The costume worn by Big Bird on Sesame Street is rumored to be made of turkey feathers.

Turkey Feather Down

  • Turkey feather down is sometimes used to make pillows.


  • Only tom turkeys gobble. Hen turkeys make a clicking sound.


  • Turkey eggs are tan with brown specks and are larger than chicken eggs.

Turkey Terms

  • The “caruncle” on a turkey is the red-pink fleshy growth on the head and upper neck.
  • The “snood” is a long, red, fleshy growth from the base of the beak that hangs down over the beard.
  • The “wattle” is the bright red appendage at the neck.
  • The “beard” is a black lock of hair found on the chest of a male turkey.

Our History

Turkey farming has a rich history in Minnesota and through our two organizations, MTGA and MTRPC, we work on behalf of Minnesota's turkey farmers.

Our Farmers

Our turkey farmers take great care in raising the highest quality turkey to put on your table. NTF Standards of Conduct guide our farmers as they ensure each and every bird is will cared for. Learn more about the people who feed you and the world.

Turkey Facts

Turkey is a lean, protein-packed meal your entire family will enjoy. Learn how your locally-grown turkey is raised by our farmers and choose turkey for your daily nutrients.


Minnesota Turkey Growers Association enhances the success of the Minnesota turkey industry through member engagement, strong advocacy with legislators and public outreach.


Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council discovers and shares healthy practices for its members and consumers by advancing strong research and public education.


Gain access to talent in the turkey industry by posting your job opportunity with us. You can also post farm equipment you have for sale where others in the industry will see it. While it’s encouraged, you don’t have to be an MTGA member to post an advertisement. If you are interested in posting an ad, contact us today.

Members can post a classified ad directly through the Member portal. Non-members are encouraged to contact us to post an advertisement.

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