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"You Know, I've always wondered about that!"





Q. Number 1 asked question: Do I need to order a turkey from you?

A. You do not need to order a turkey from me. I do not accept orders for individual turkeys. Just come in and tell me what you want. I can almost always fill your order within 1 or 2 pounds. 

Q. Number 2 asked question: Are your turkeys gluten free?

A. All of my products, with the exception of the breast meat pies and the gravy, are qluten free.

Turkey Production

Q. How long have you been raising turkeys?

A. Howard Kauffman started his first flock of turkeys in 1933.


Q. Is Kauffman Turkey Farms the largest turkey farm in Illinois?

A. As far as I know our production of about 80,000 turkeys makes us the largest  turkey farm in the state.


Q. What's the largest turkey you ever raised?

A. The largest turkey I have ever raised dressed out at 50.12 lbs..


Q. Do you hatch your own eggs?

A. No. We buy our poults at one day of age delivered from Wilmar, Minnesota.


Q.  What do the turkeys eat?

A. Turkeys are a true omnivore. They will eat anything they can swallow.

Animal protein from such sources as insects are essential to the proper development of the growing turkey. We feed a diet of corn and soybean meal with added protein from such sources as fish meal.


Q. How old are turkeys at the time of dressing?

A. Hens and toms are approximately 16 and 19 weeks of age respectively.


Q. Is It true that turkeys cannot mate naturally.

A. Yes, the commercial turkey's breast is too large for natural mating to be successful. All turkeys are artificially inseminated.


Q. Are your turkeys organic?

A. No.


Q. Are your turkeys natural?

A. If by natural, you mean minimally processed with nothing added, then yes.


Q. Are your turkeys free range?

A. We raise the majority of our turkeys this way. However, after Thanksgiving all birds are kept inside to protect them from the weather.


Turkey Habits


Q. Are turkeys really stupid?

A. The best way I can answer this is to say that turkeys have a primitive brain with limited capacity to learn new things. they pretty much get along on their temperament and their instincts. They have adapted well to domestication and are less nervous and flighty than previous generations. Also, their natural sense of curiosity has increased and helps them find food, water, and shelter.


Q. Will a turkey look up when it rains and drown?

A. Believe it or not, otherwise intelligent people actually believe this to be true. We raise thousands of turkeys outside, and have never lost one to drowning in the rain.


Q. Are turkeys mean?

A. As a male turkey gets older he gets very aggressive and fights a lot. As they have patterned on humans, and believe us to be one of them, they will try to pick a fight with you.


Turkey Anatomy


Q. Why are your turkeys white?

A. They have had the color bred out of them. This was done because on occasion pigment from the feather would discolor the birds skin during dressing. The result is the clean, white, unblemished skin of today's dressed turkey.


Q. How do you tell the hens from the toms?

A. It is nearly impossible to tell them apart until they mature. They are sexed at the hatchery, and raised separately. Once they mature, the toms are noticeably larger, with a longer leg. Also, toms will grow a beard, which is a black coarse feather,  that appears in the middle of their chest. Their head and their wattles, which is a fleshy growth under their chin, will be larger. His snood, which is a fleshy growth on top of his bill, will be longer and hang down the side of his face. Toms are the only ones who strut and gobble. 


Turkey Dressing


Q. What do you do with the feathers after dressing?

A. We load the feathers in a manure spreader and spread them on our fields. In the spring, they are plowed in and they decompose, providing nitrogen to the soil.


Q. What do you do with the inedible parts of the turkey?

A. The inedible parts or offal as it is called, go to be rendered into fat and meal to be used for animal feed.


Dressed Turkey


Q. Where are your turkeys sold?

A. Our turkeys are sold here on the farm, in local meat markets,  by independent grocers. and in some specialty chains. If you're the type of person who patronizes a local butcher or independent grocer because of their quality meats, chances are they sell our turkeys for the holidays and display this poster.   


Q. Which are better, hens or toms?

A. There is no difference in eating quality. If you want a turkey up to 22lbs. it's usually a hen, and if you want a larger bird it's going to be a tom.


Q. Aren't toms tougher?

A.  No, this assumption is based on the mistaken belief that toms are quite a bit older at dressing time than the hens.


Q. What if I want two different stuffings?

A. Some people get two 15 lbs. birds and stuff each with a different stuffing. They could instead get one 30 lbs. bird and use the same two stuffings in the neck and body cavity. 


Q. What's the best way to roast a turkey?

A. Fresh or frozen, start with a Ho-Ka turkey. Then be sure not to overcook it by using a thermometer. Any thermometer is better than nothing, but the very best is an instant read thermometer. White meat is best at 170 and dark meat at 180. Please don't cook your turkey to 185  like many oven thermometers suggest.


Q. Is there something in turkey that makes you drowsy?

A. Turkey is naturally high in the amino acid l-typtophan. L-tryptophan is believed to produce a calming effect. Milk is also high in this substance, hence the practice of drinking a warm glass of milk before bedtime to promote sleep.


New Questions


Q. Are you going to sell Heritage turkeys?

A. If by heritage turkeys you are referring to the old breeds of turkey such as bourbon reds. slate grays, bronze, etc. then no, I am not going to sell these and here is why, these older breeds were raised primarily for their plumage and the white bird we raise today is raised primarily for its eating quality.


  That was my old answer that is basically true but not the whole story. You see the bronze turkey was once the commercially raised turkey. This breed was considered the best for domestication and eating quality. In the early 60's it was crossed with a white bird and its colorful plumage was bred out. All of its other desirable characteristics such as fast growth and large breast were retained. It would be correct to say that the bird that we raise today is a bronze with white feathers.

  The breeders who sell me my poults tell me that they still have flocks of those dark feathered bronze turkeys. This is to ensure that they have the original genetics should they need them. They have continued to improve this line and it grows larger and faster than previous generations.  Some people have worried that we are losing the old strains. They have forgotten that these breeds came from the wild turkey that is flourishing in our fields and forests all across America.


Q. Is it true that turkeys grow so fast they collapse under their own weight?

A. Not in my experience. Last year we raised some of our toms to dress at 40+ pounds and we walked  them up to the plant.


Q. Should I brine my turkey?

A. You can if you want. I tried brining a turkey when we prepared two Christmas dinners a week apart. Without telling anyone, I brined the second bird and served it as I always do. When I asked my friends and family who were present at both dinners if they noticed any difference, none could.






Kauffman Turkey Farms

8519 Leland Road

Waterman, Illinois 60556

phone: 815-264-3470


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