Turkeys hoping to avoid the plate

Turkeys hoping to avoid the plate
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

FORT DEPOSIT, AL (WSFA) - For a lot of folks, November is turkey time. People look forward to baking, smoking, or frying a big bird to celebrate Thanksgiving.

For the turkeys themselves, they probably don't realize it, but this could be the end of the road.

"Thanksgiving is our most busy time of the year," said Rebecca Sloane with the Bates Turkey Farm.

The farm has quite a story. It started back in the 1920's with 9 turkey eggs. In the 40's W.C. "Bill" Bates really got the commercial business going. This place is all about family.

"I'm a third generation. My daughter and nephew are fourth-generation. I have grandkids working so they are the fifth generation." Sloane said.

Raising turkeys is hard work.

"We raise about 15 to 20,000 a year," Sloane said.

Even though they are raised to eat, the toms and hens are treated like kings and queens.

"We raise them in a stress-free environment. That makes a big difference in the quality of meat. We really feed them well with corn and oats." Sloane said.

While most of these well-fed birds are "moving on", some actually dodge the bullet.

"Daddy started that back in 1949 with Big Jim Folsom. Every year they would save a tom and a hen," Sloane said.

So while most of these big birds have a date with the plate, some of them are off to a life of retirement as pets. Do you think they have any idea?

"I think they know they are lucky. You can tell. They know they escaped something. They may not know what that something is, but it's something," Sloane said.

The Bates Turkey Farm will get with the governor's office and select the two lucky birds before Thanksgiving. As for the rest of these gobblers, the Bates Turkey Farm handles plenty of holiday orders in November and December.

Sloane and her family also have a restaurant in Greenville called Bate's House of Turkey. Here's a link to that page.

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