MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The end of the heat wave couldn’t come soon enough for Minnesota turkey growers.

The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association says it’s received widespread reports of turkey deaths at farms across the state.

“I’ve heard from some (growers who’ve lost) 50 birds, up to 45,000 or so,” said Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.

One farm in Redwood Falls lost nearly 50,000 turkeys alone.

While Olson says turkeys can acclimate to heat fairly well, the sustained nature of the heat wave was too much for the birds.

“(It’s been) so hot during the day, doesn’t cool off very much at night, and then if there’s no wind moving it gets real tough for the birds,” Olson said. “It starts to affect the way they’re breathing.”

Losing a significant number of turkeys can be devastating for growers. Olson says the cost is anywhere from $10 to $25 per bird.

“You multiply that by a few thousand, and it starts to add up pretty quickly.”

Olson doubts the widespread deaths will affect the price for turkeys.

WCCO’s Adam Carter Interviews Steve Olson

Comments (64)
  1. Gloria says:

    Poor birds…

    1. Kathleen says:

      I agree with Fin. If they hadn’t been living in turkey mill conditions, then this wouldn’t have been devestating. I’m surprised pigs and chickens all over the country aren’t dying. Expect that they will and expect a famine by this winter to next spring. Why do we only get outraged if it happens to puppies?

      1. Oberon123 says:

        And I agree with you, Kathleen. The way these poor creatures are treated should be criminal, but because they’re turkeys they have none of the protections that puppies do. Disgusting. And so are the people who profit off of the flesh of their bodies.

        1. Fanuci says:

          Well unfortunately for the birds, they are much tastier than puppies. I’ll think about all those poor birds when I go to KFC to soak my grill.

          1. em0886 says:

            Wow your rude!! I eat meat too but I don’t think they need to be treated like garbage while they are alive.

  2. Fin says:

    I bet they wouldn’t have been so hot if they weren’t so crammed in their barns. Yeah, poor turkeys.

  3. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    Feel bad for the birds…but 10-25.00 a bird? When I buy a turkey at Thanksgiivng itis only 10.00..

    1. Pip says:

      Those numbers are for insurance purposes

    2. em0886 says:


  4. Crazy_Redneck says:

    Yes, they are 10.00 at thanksgiving. That’s because that’s the time of year for which the demand for turkeys are highest. So, the bulk of farmers will schedule hatches/growth to coincide with thanksgiving and they make their money off volume rather than price.

    I agree with the others…poor turkeys. The commercial turkey is a hybrid that produces a bird that has a high feed to body mass conversion…much like commercial chickens (cornish x rocks). They aren’t even mature when they are processed. For this reason, I grow out my own Spanish crosses and Rio Grandes myself. Puts things into perspective when you grow you’re own food. I’m in southeast Texas and my birds are faring very well right now.

    I’ve gotten the commercial birds from others who overhatched for shows, but didn’t process them. What you wind up with is an 80lb bird with extremely weak legs…for whom death is their only relief.

    1. downeastfarmer says:

      Agree . . . . we raise Narrangansett turkey’s and they are extremely healthy and hearty and can breed naturally. That 80 lb Broad Breasted white tom cannot breed naturally and can only be milked for his semen and bred to hens through AI. Cornish X Rocks can only be bred before 6 months afterwards . . . . they cannot be bred naturally). We have a beautiful 5 year old Tom that gives me over 50 viable chicks per year. . . . and the taste is out of this world “pure turkey”.

      Many grocery store customers on the “STANDARD AMERICAN DIET” do not reallize that the $10.00 turkey that they are eating on Thanksgiving is loaded with additives, hormones and antibiotics and they are essentially eating a”FRANKENTURKEY”.

      All of our turkeys are rasied on pasture underneath apple trees and are locked in coops only at night to protect them from predators.

      Kind regards,

      Violet J. Willis

      1. Oberon123 says:

        But you still kill them, don’t you?

      2. Oberon123 says:

        Just looked at your website. You’ll kill anything to make a profit. You’re even more disgusting than factory farmers because you try to pass yourself off as “humane.” Killing is still killing, lady, and couching it in pretty language doesn’t change the reality. And by the way, an apostrophe isn’t used for plural noun forms. It’s turkeys, not turkey’s.

        1. Jen says:

          Worried about killing turkeys for food? Humans have been killing animals for food for thousands of years. There’s nothing wrong with it. Get off your high horse and shut up. You kill thousands of bugs every time you walk across a lawn or drive in your car. You’re a “killer” too. Jerk.

          1. Oberon123 says:

            And white humans used to own black humans. Didn’t make it right, did it. BTW, Glad to see you signed your correct name.

            1. The Architect says:

              There is nothing indecent, inappropriate or immoral about beheading a turkey, defeathering it, gutting it and throwing it in a deep fryer. I happen to find it very tasty and appealing. Don’t like it? Don’t buy one to eat. Pretty simple.

              1. Oberon123 says:

                I use the same approach on child abuse. Don’t like child abuse? Don’t abuse one.

            2. Jen says:

              You’re comparing slavery of humans with people eating meat for sustenance? Dear Lord. You really are off the deep end, aren’t you? People eat meat. Have been doing it for thousands of years and it will continue for thousands of years. Get over it. Oh and what the hell is the difference what name I use? Did you sign your correct name? Attack anything, right? Weird, silly child.

              1. Oberon123 says:

                I was referring to “Jerk.” You’re stupid as well as heartless and cruel. Maybe you should spend less time on the computer and more time cultivating critical reading skills. SOME people eat meat, you ignorant, pathetic excuse for a human being.

        2. downeastfarmer says:

          You are welcome to see for yourself how our animals are raised. We are a farm and not a petting zoo. Our animals live full lives on pasture and our sheep are 100% grass fed. It sounds as if you have never been to a farm like ours before . . . . believe me . . . . small farms like ours are cropping up all over the place. We decided to farm because factory raised meats are unhealthy. Forgive my apostrophe . . . . I wrote this post late at night and I was tired from working on our farm all day:)

      3. Old Slim says:

        Nice looking set up you have, most folks don’t have a clue where their food comes from.

        I would deal with you if you where closer to me.

        1. downeastfarmer says:

          Thanks so much for your comment! We are not only farmers but educators. Wish you lived closer too:)

    2. Snowflake says:

      I’d like to know where you’re getting your turkeys for $10.00, here they are much more than that, 25 to #35.00. Thanks.

  5. I’ve always preferred deep fried turkey.


    Sad all that food is gone to waste….

  6. Jane says:

    How difficult is it to rig up an old-fashioned swamp cooler and several fans to save the fowl?

    1. turkeedude says:

      Been at a “commercial” turkey farm. Not like the chicken farms. Open space. Turkey is dumber than wood. They kill each other. And a swamp cooler? You really need to see a real farm in person instead of television. Then you’d understand.

    2. john san says:

      when the humidity is 70% plus swamp coolers lose there effectiveness.

  7. kicklibsout says:

    That’s a very deep thought CBS. Heat wave melts liberal turkeys in usually frozen Miniap.

  8. Matt says:

    “Losing a significant number of turkeys can be devastating for growers.”

    Yeah, and it’s no fun for the turkeys too, I bet.

    1. Oberon123 says:

      I don’t really give a damn about the “growers.” My concern is strictly with the turkeys.

      1. fullthrottle says:

        And that’s what makes you a nut. Go away.

  9. Gloriosa2 says:

    Another reason for Perry to stop our dear friends at the EPA. The EPA wants
    Texas to shut down our coal fired power plants so we humans can perish just
    like the turkeys. It really could be Obama’s fault that the growers don’t have enough
    power to run fans so the turkeys have to die.

    1. Oberon123 says:

      No, you’re wrong. Turkeys are dying because the greedy farmers can’t even supply that little bit of comfort for these poor animals. Now they’re crying because their greed has caught up to them. I don’t care if they starve. It’s what they deserve for treating turkeys the way that they do.

      1. Jen says:

        Well, Oberon, you sound like a zealot activist. No animals should be mistreated but you’re off the deep end. You got proof that these turkeys were mistreated or are you just guessing? You’ve been to each and every one of these turkey farms and inspected it yourself, have you? You seem to care more about turkeys than humans, which is typical of an animal rights activist ZEALOT. Stop attacking people here for their beliefs (and punctuation). I’m sick of people like you.

        1. Oberon123 says:

          I care about the weak being exploited by the more powerful. And, as far as these turkeys being mistreated, the fact that they died because of the heat, about which nothing was done to save them, is something of a clue. If you really couldn’t figure that out, I’m amazed that you’re capable of turning a computer on, much less knowing what to do with one. I can only presume that you’re trying to defend the indefensible.

  10. OOAsshat says:

    I read the news today, oh boy, that president Turkey was wanting republicans to talk turkey over the debt deal.

  11. Dave Shaffer says:

    Cook ’em & feed the hungry.

    1. Pat says:

      Probably a law against that.

  12. len says:

    ever hear of air conditioning? Surely these farmers can make a cooling system for the birds.

    1. john san says:

      they do. what are the odds minnesota has several days of 100plus heat indexes. minnesota systems are getting taxed out.

  13. MFFF says:

    For those of you wanting to air condition the turkey houses, it is a matter of economics. In order for your Christmas turkey to sell for $10, the producers and growers must have less than $10 invested in the bird.

  14. Jewfromhell says:

    Save me a leg and some stuffing. Hold the cranberry.

  15. ApplegateRanch says:


    For those of you wanting to air condition the turkey houses, it is a matter of economics. In order for your Christmas turkey to sell for $10, the producers and growers must have less than $10 invested in the bird.

    Lossing 50,000 birds at $10-25 each could have paid for a LOT of back up cooling.

  16. Holly says:

    Never understood why these people care about the animal’s welfare, when they live in horrid conditions to begin with. Of COURSE they are dropping dead in this heat; they are packed into rooms together like sardines. Suddenly they are dying and people care? Yeah, all they care about is the money they are lo$ing, not about the animal’s feelings during it’s life, right up until it’s cruel demise.

  17. anon says:

    I know. It’s a tragedy that people only see $$$$. Capitalism will finally become corporate cannibalism and people will see that foreclosures and animal abuse are part of the same, fundamental problem. The Chinese have the right idea. Shanghai is far more advanced than any US city. The US populace is just like the animals it abuses : overfed, tasteless and miserable.

    1. The Architect says:

      “The Chinese have the right idea.”

      Now there’s something you don’t hear every day…

    2. Dan says:

      Don’t the chinese eat dogs and monkeys?

    3. vangoghcode says:

      You are an ass! Did you read the article yesterday about the corrupt Chinese officials that were executed! They didn’t kill anybody, just some graft and embezzlement! You want to talk about animal abuse just google some of the animal atrocities in China such as truck loads of dogs going to slaughter! Yeah, those Chinese are awesome! If you hate capitalism so much, don’t ever use any modern conveniences as they’ve been brought to you by someone who wanted to make a profit! Hope you’re not riding your sorry ass around in a modern automobile as the people who sold it to you wanted to make a profit! You sicken me!

  18. fsf says:

    its because they are in crowded HENHOUSES thats why they died and no AC, OH WELL GUESS WE WILL HAVE A MEATLESS THANKSGIVING THIS YEAR!

  19. ohiowordguy says:

    Many/most of these were CAFO birds!

    Buy local, eat local and support local producers.

    Most Americans have never tasted “real” chicken or turkey. Once you do, you will never again stand for this mass-produced slop.

    I am sorry for the monetary losses suffered by these folks, but this is not farming — it is industrial animal production.

    Support capitalism, free markets and local food choices by saying “No!” to factory-farmed products. Let’s rebuild our nation, our economy and our nation’s health one small farmer at a time!

  20. Hank Warren says:

    GM farming and steroid birds, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our rights:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama, vote for Ron Paul.
    (Last link of Banned Book):

    1. The Architect says:

      This is the craziest post I’ve seen on this article. I’m talking Bachmann crazy here…

  21. cb says:

    “won’t effect prices”… ya right. This is the USA.

  22. just me says:

    Hog barns have fans installed so there’s constant air movement……why can’t they do that for the birds?

    When I first saw the headline for this story…..I was thinking it was an article on politicians……… I feel bad for the genuine turkeys…maybe they should be at the capital and let the other turkeys take the barn.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Watch & Listen LIVE