Rick and Sue Duerksen are third generation turkey farmers and own the largest pasture-raised turkey farm that offers meat year round in Michigan. They purchased the farm in 1979 and through 2003 were a commercial turkey breeder farm where they artificially inseminated the hens and sold the fertile eggs to a hatchery. They produced up to 4,000 eggs a day.
The Duerksen’s eventually switched gears to raising pasture-raised turkeys. The clean meat, NON-GMO feed, and antibiotic-free practice was very important to them. Their first year they started out with 200 turkeys and are now up to 6,000 turkeys. In the beginning they used a MDA-licensed (Michigan Department of Agriculture) mobile trailer unit to process the turkeys but then they remodeled and built their own MDA licensed facility on site.
In the beginning they offered three products, boneless & skinless breast, legs and thighs, besides the whole turkey at Thanksgiving. Today they have 38 different products including ground and smoked turkey, turkey bacon, sliced deli meat, and raw pet food.
Oryana was their first wholesale account in 2007 and it has been a great relationship. In 2007 they also started doing farm markets, the Sara Hardy in TC and Petoskey Farm Market. From there they expanded to Boyne City, Elk Rapids, Harbor Springs, and Charlevoix. They are also at Eastern Market in Detroit and West Michigan Co-op in the Grand Rapids area. They also work with distributor Cherry Capital Foods where their products travel all over Michigan to restaurants and wholesalers.
Rick and Sue raise White Broad Breasted turkeys. Baby turkeys are called Poults, female turkeys are hens, and the males are called toms. 10% of the turkeys they raise are toms and 90% are hens. They purchase the poults when they are 1 day old. They are raised in their barns the first 8-10 weeks where the temperature is controlled at 90 degrees, then gradually backed off. They eat NON-GMO grains and have fresh clean water.
By 10 weeks old the birds move outdoors into the lush green pastures where they are free to roam, eat all the bugs they want, and get plenty of Vitamin D from the sunshine and hours of daily exercise running around in 20 acres of pasture.
Duerksen turkeys are so popular that people drive all the way from Detroit, Chicago, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids to get them. In fact, one customer purchased a Duerksen turkey and flew it all the way to Hawaii for Thanksgiving! She said she couldn’t imagine a Thanksgiving without one.
Thank you Rick and Sue Duerksen for your commitment to a clean, healthy, nutritious bird that many of us look forward to every year at Thanksgiving and year round. We are honored to play a part in your success.