As the temperatures cool off and leaves drift from the trees, many people begin planning their Thanksgiving dinner. Although each group’s meal is as unique as those seated around the table, the iconic turkey remains the centerpiece of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
While consumer demand for turkeys is at its peak during the fall, the folks at Bowman and Landes farm have turkeys at the forefront of their thoughts for much of the year.
The Bowman and Landes partnership came together by chance 67 years ago, and has been a successful venture for both families. Now run by second generation owner operators – Carl Bowman, Anita Bowman-Hamber, Stan Landes and Steve Landes – the farm produces around 80,000 birds a year.
“Our fathers started the operation, they’re not related at all, but it’s a success story. We have the third generation working here now,” said Carl Bowman. “Our primary business is to produce, process and market turkeys.”
Turkey production is a seasonal operation at Bowman and Landes. Day-old turkey pullets arrive at the farm each year in July and August and are grown to market weight ranging from 10 – 30 pounds on a vegetable based diet that includes primarily soy meal and corn.
“The turkey’s diet is made up of corn and soy meal, vitamins and minerals. The amount of soy and corn vary by the bird’s age. We start them off on a high protein diet and then switch to higher carbohydrates as they near market weight,” said Bowman.
Corn, soybeans and wheat are also grown on the Bowman and Landes farm, giving them a thorough understanding of the relationship between grain and livestock farmers and the dependency both market sectors have on one another.
“Soy is a wonderful protein; it’s been such a vital part of a turkey’s diet in the 67 years we’ve been in existence. It would be really hard to grow turkeys without soy,” said Bowman. “I think it’s very important that the livestock and grain industries stay in communication and show that we can react to each other’s growing needs as new trends come along because we all need each other.”
The Bowman and Landes families understand that on a farm, the decisions they make impact more than their own operation. Striving to be good stewards of the land they practice no-till planting, leaving crop residue on the ground to hold the soil in place and participate in Pheasants Forever efforts by planting some field borders to grasses.
Steps are also taken to ensure they are doing their part to preserve water quality at their farm. The farm has waterways, drainage tile and performs water testing to make sure the water that leaves their farms isn’t taking anything with it.
“We strive to be good stewards of our land to ensure our nutrients do not leave the farm. It takes very effective nutrient management and we accomplish that with soil testing and water sampling,” said Bowman. “When you’re feeding a lot of animals, you want to have very clean fresh water for them. And we live here, so we’re drinking it as well.”
Bowman and Landes Turkeys sells more than twenty percent of their birds in their on-site retail store with the remainder being distributed through wholesale. What attracts many customers to their retail store is the connection of meeting the people who have a hand in raising their food. And enjoying safe, locally produced, high quality food – no matter what time of year – is something anyone can be thankful for.