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Turkey ranching

Turkey ranching

Nov. 25, 1969: Turkeys bask in the sun at the Huntsinger Ranch in Acton a few days before Thanksgiving. Since the “cutoff” day for Thanksgiving had passed, these birds were expected to end up as Christmas dinners.

In a Los Angeles Times Business section article two days before Thanksgiving, staff writer John Getze reported on some of the pitfalls of turkey ranching:

Just like humans, turkeys get depressed when it rains.

And when a downpour lasts four or five days, the poor birds get so discouraged they quit eating, lose weight and sometimes die, says Pete Huntsinger, who along with his two brothers, Curtis and Sheldon, operate the Huntsinger Turkey Ranch in Acton, a small town on the road to Palmdale.

“They were really in sad shape last year,” recalls Hunstinger, who with many other Southern California growers suffered some anxious monents last fall (1968) when it rained for a week straight.

Even with all that rain last year, though, the Huntsinger brothers managed to sell about 93% of the turkeys they bought as poults — an industry term for baby turkeys. Huntsinger adds that a 95% rate is about average on his farm.

Getze added that in 1969 there were about 280 turkey growers in California producing 15 million turkeys.  In 2006, according to the California Poultry Federation website, 15.8 million turkeys were raised in California.

Getze noted in his¬†article that Huntsinger “managed to catch six bobcats and a dozen or more coyotes. Such predators enjoy turkey dinners all year round.”

This image by Times staff photographer Don Cormier illustrated Getze’s story.

1 Comment

  1. November 27, 2012, 4:33 am

    I am interested in partnering with an experienced and professional turkey rancher(s) in a whole new market.

    By: molarsurg

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