Oryana has been working with the Duerksen Farm for 12 years now. They have reached an incredible milestone, 40 years in business! We caught up with owners Rick and Sue Duerksen to learn more about how things have changed over the years as they have grown and expanded their offerings. Here’s what they have to say…
We are third generation turkey farmers and the largest pasture-raised turkey farm that offers meat year round in the state of Michigan. We were 22 years old when we purchased our farm in 1979. From 1979-2003 we were a commercial turkey breeder farm where we artificially inseminated the hens and sold the fertile eggs to a hatchery. We produced up to 4,000 eggs a day.
After years of that we switched gears to raising pasture-raised turkeys. The clean meat, NON-GMO feed, and antibiotic-free was very important to us. Our first year we started out with 200 turkeys and have been up to 6,000 turkeys. In the beginning we used a MDA licensed mobile trailer unit to process the turkeys. We used that for 2 years and then remodeled and built our own MDA licensed facility on site.
Early products: in the beginning we started out offering three products (boneless & skinless breast, leg and thigh) besides the whole turkey at Thanksgiving. Customers asked for ground turkey so we purchased the necessary equipment and introduced ground turkey. We listen to our customers and try to do what we can to offer a new product every year. Today we have 38 different products.
Our newest products are turkey bacon, sliced deli meat, and pet food. They have really taken off. This year alone we will produce 2,500 lbs of raw pet food and with the demand we see that increasing to 5,000 lb next year.
Oryana was our first wholesale account in 2007. They took a chance with us and its been amazing ever since. We have a great working relationship and friendship with the staff. In 2007 we also started out doing 2 farm markets, the Sara Hardy in TC and Petoskey Farm Market. From there we have expanded to Boyne City, Elk Rapids, Harbor Springs, and Charlevoix. We are also at Eastern Market in Detroit and West Michigan Co-op in the Grand Rapids area. We are in a couple stores and food co-ops in South Lyon Michigan, and also did a food Co-op in West Michigan for 5 years.
We work with Cherry Capital Foods as our Distributor where they travel all over the state of Michigan with our turkey products to restaurants and wholesalers.
We raise White Broad Breasted turkeys. We also raised a Heritage breed called Bourbon Reds for 2 years, Martha Stewart’s favorite! Baby turkeys are called Poults, female turkeys are hens, and the males are called toms. 10% of the turkeys we raise are toms and 90% are hens. We purchase the poults when they are a day old. They are raised in our 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 they are outdoors in 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 plus acres of pasture.
We have people drive from Detroit, Chicago, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids to get our turkey products. In fact, we have a customer that purchased her turkey from us and flew it all the way to Hawaii for Thanksgiving! She said she couldn’t imagine a Thanksgiving without a Duerksen Turkey. That’s commitment and we see and hear it a lot. This is how we got to where we are today. Dedicated and committed customers that care about eating healthy clean GMO-FREE meats. We absolutely love our customers and have enjoyed the ride together. Thank you for your support so we can continue producing healthy turkey.