Producing turkeys in Central Texas

There are cattle ranches that integrate wildlife production or even goat production with their cattle operations to create a second income stream, but there’s one rancher down the road who has found that not only can turkeys co-exist with cattle, they can actually enhance grass production on the ranch. Darrell Glaser raises turkeys on his Bar G Ranch near Rogers and at any one time will have thirty thousand birds in each of his four houses.

“When we get the birds in at one day of age, we’ll have the house portioned off with these cardboard rings and we’ll put fourteen hundred to fifteen hundred birds into one set of the four heaters. And so we do that to keep the birds closer together, closer to their heat source and they’re feed because the key is we want them to find feed and water. That’s the most important thing, to get them introduced to their feed and water sources. And so once the birds get older, we’ll start pulling dividers and we just give them more space until we stage them out to where the birds will have half the house.”

Glaser says the real work starts when a group of birds leave.

“We keep them for about six weeks and then they’ll leave here and as soon as they’re gone, we go in and wash all of the equipment, and then we’ll come back in behind that and take out all of the manure, and then once we get all that done we disinfect the house and then we’ll come back in and put new bedding down. We’ll disinfect again.”

And then he’ll bring in another one hundred twenty thousand birds and do it all over again. Glaser and his wife got into the turkey business because they believed it would provide a benefit to their cattle operation.

“When we don’t have drought years and we have good moisture, adding that organic matter and what we get from using the manure as fertilizer has just greatly improved our cattle operation. And so having two systems, that’s one thing that’s ironic is you have competing meats in the food case that work really well together when you work them into a system out on a farm and ranch.”

Since Glaser and his wife began their operation in 1994, they’ve raised fifteen million turkeys.