Protein important to producing America’s traditional Thanksgiving staple
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, outside of Dayton, Ohio, have turkeys at the forefront of their thoughts for much of the year.
The Bowman and Landes partnership came together by chance 71 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 raises 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,” says Carl Bowman. “Our primary business is to produce, process and market turkeys.”
Thriving on Soy
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. They eat a diet that includes primarily soybean meal and corn.
“The turkey’s diet is made up of corn and soybean meal, vitamins and minerals. The amount of soybean meal 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,” Bowman adds.
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 they have on one another.
“Soy is a wonderful protein; it’s been such a vital part of a turkey’s diet in the 71 years we’ve been in existence. It would be really hard to grow turkeys without soybean meal,” 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 the decisions they make impact more than just 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. They participate in Pheasants Forever efforts by planting some field borders to grasses.
They also do their part to preserve water quality. They maintain waterways and perform water testing on the water leaving their drainage tile to make sure the water that leaves their farms isn’t taking nutrients 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 20 percent of its birds in an on-site retail store with the remainder being distributed wholesale. What attracts many customers to the 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.
Courtesy of the Ohio Soybean Association.