“Slow Poultry” means poultry and sustainable poultry production practices that support the ideology of the Slow Food movement, which centers on diversity. Slow Food is an international movement that seeks to preserve unique tastes and agricultural diversity as food products become more uniform and standardized in the global economy. Slow Food includes conserving the livestock and poultry breeds, as well as crops, that contribute to diversity, because breeds and production practices are often unique and specific to a particular region. Slow Food is often characterized as “good, clean, and fair food” because of its freshness and taste, environmentally-sound production practices, and fair price to producers.
Turkey, a livestock species native to the Americas, is quintesinally American. Frank Reese is a 4th generation “heritage” turkey farmer and master breeder who knows the history of the development of turkey breeds. “Heritage” turkeys are historical breeds that were common at the beginning of the 1900s and include the Bronze, Naragansett, Bourbon Red, White Holland, and Black Spanish. Heritage turkeys have a natural growth rate in contrast to the rapid growth and high yield of the modern turkey. Heritage turkeys have not been selected for large breast muscles and so can mate naturally instead of requiring artificial insemination for reproduction. They are standard-bred birds that breed true and producers can breed their own stock.
Frank can trace his heritage turkey bloodlines to 1917 and maintains these turkeys for genetic diversity in the future. He learned about turkey breeding and production as a boy from master breeders who raised these birds in the mid-1900s. Frank has seen turkey production change from small-scale local production to large-scale production on a national level.
Frank’s heritage turkeys are raised with access to the outdoors where they have ample space to forage and to dustbathe in fresh air and sunlight. They are hardy birds but also have access to housing for protection against the elements. They eat natural diets without routine antibiotics in the feed and are raised in an integrated system with cattle on the prairie. Frank practices a high level of animal welfare and does not beak trim or toe trim. Frank processes his birds at a nearby USDA-inspected plant.
Frank’s products are marketed locally and are also available on the Internet where they have received national attention as more consumers want to hear the story behind these turkeys.
For more information on Slow Food USA, see www.slowfoodusa.org.
|Frank Reese describes the history of heritage turkeys and breeding.|
|Frank Reese explains how he raises five types of heritage turkeys in a free-range setting.|
|Frank Reese traces the bloodlines of his turkeys from 1917.|
This page was last updated on: January 26, 2015