It’s Turkey Time

11/06/2012 12:17 PM

11/06/2012 12:25 PM

Wild Turkey Farms has been providing Lake Norman-area families with their Thanksgiving birds for years. Located in China Grove about 15 miles east of Mooresville, the farmland has been in the Menius family since the 1880s, says Lee Menius, who took over running the 50-acre operation from his grandfather in 1998. Lee, with the help of his wife Domisty and kids Rosty, 9, and Charlie, 6, raises everything from pigs, cows, chickens, lambs and, of course, turkeys. They sell their products at the Davidson and Salisbury farmers markets and a number of Charlotte restaurants. The first year they raised turkeys they had a batch of only about 20 birds. This Thanksgiving Lee anticipates they’ll have about 130. Out of all the farm animals he raises, Lee says turkeys are the most challenging. Typically he orders the newborn turkeys or “poults” from hatcheries in the Midwest. They arrive in July, and for the first three weeks or so they’re raised inside the barn under heat lamps. They’re then moved outside to the pasture where they’re kept in pins. This is a crucial time, Lee says, as turkeys are very temperature sensitive, and if they get too hot or too cold they oftentimes won’t make it. Finally, when they’re big enough so that “the hawks don’t bother them too bad,” the turkeys are let out of the pens and free-range in the pasture for the final two months leading up to Thanksgiving. Lee says they used to process the turkeys at the farm, but that got to be “too much like work.” So last year they started sending the turkeys to a processing plant in Marion. The turkeys, which average about 15 pounds, are sold directly from the farm, with previous customers getting first pick. “We have lots of repeat customers,” Lee says. “People like the idea of getting their turkeys fresh from a local farmer.” More information Wild Turkey Farms Contact: 704-202-9348, Details:

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