Dec 22, 2003

A Wish for the Future: Rescuing the Wishard Bronze Turkey

The Wishard strain of Bronze turkeys has had the attention of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy for more than a decade. The Wish Farm and Hatchery in Prairie City Oregon has been the home to a large flock of range-reared, naturally mating Bronze turkeys for nearly 50 years. Mark Wishard, son of the founder, is a long-distance truck driver and decided to sell the farm and turkey business. He called ALBC in November and gave notice that all the breeding stock would be going to slaughter on December 12th unless ALBC could find additional breeders who would take on breeding stock. While ALBC had encouraged the establishment of other breeding groups over the years, the rescue of the foundation stock seemed an important conservation effort.

Using the extensive ALBC network, we sent out the word that this breeding flock, farm and facility were for sale and that the turkeys were in need of immediate rescue. The result was an exciting success. Joel and Cynthia Huesby, owner-operators of the Huesby family farm and Thundering Hooves Farm pasture-finished poultry, beef, lamb, and goat are now in the turkey breeding business. They talked with Mark Wishard and found that he was indeed planning to slaughter nearly all of his 3,000 bronze turkeys. Bryan, Joel's brother, and Lois, his mother, traveled to Prairie City and purchased 42 hens and 6 toms. Thundering Hooves Farm hopes to produce up to 1,000 poults in March and April of 2004.

Joel reports that their business plan calls for marketing 700 bronze turkeys next year. This would also include selling to the Seattle/Portland/Eugene, Oregon Slow Food folks who had previously purchased from Mark. This past year, Thundering Hooves sold out of the 260 turkeys they had raised before they had even processed them! By growing their own poults, the Husebys will be able to better control their supply, quality and timing. This is an important key to sustainability.

You can learn more about the Huesby family farm and their products at Thundering Hooves Farm is located west of Walla Walla in South Eastern Washington at 1511 Fredrickson Road, Touchet, WA 99360, ph. 866-350-9400 or 509-522-9400

More Turkey News

The Snood News

The Winter Issue of The Snood News is coming off the press. This issue of The Snood News features the ALBC Breed Conservation Award Winners, a breed profile of the Nebraskan turkey, research findings from ALBC's study of free range heritage and industrial turkeys, and the opportunities and challenges of the booming heritage turkey market. To subscribe, or renew your subscription, to The Snood News send $5 for current ALBC members, $10 for non-members to: ALBC, PO Box 477, Pittsboro, NC 27312.

Heritage Turkey Census

If you'll be buying poults this spring, you'll want a copy of Heritage Turkeys in North America. This most recent census report includes contacts for hatcheries, and a listing of hatcheries selling each variety. This report is available for $5 + $2 s/h (in the USA. International shipping is additional.) Order your copy now!