Eaten: Small turkey farmers in Missouri see high demand | Local business

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(Unusually, they produced more large birds than in years past, he said. A labor shortage meant the birds weren’t getting into the barn as quickly as usual, which resulted in them getting bigger. Bryan collects turkeys, the Cargill for church dinners, and he noticed the extra large size. “We get these great big ones,” said Bryan.)

However, small farms said their niche attracted more customers this year.

“That’s our thing,” says Benne, who runs their farm in St. Charles with her husband Ron, 71, of Taste and Outdoor Ethics.

Otherwise, she continued, they wouldn’t keep coming back.

On Thanksgiving night, Buttonwood Farm in California, Missouri, west of Jefferson City, was outlawed for the big dinner. Owner Matt Tiefenbrun, 34, agreed with Benne that demand was on the rise this year.

“It was good,” he said. He estimated the farm sold about 1,800 turkeys this year, compared to 1,700 last year and 1,200 the year before.

A return to normal changed his clientele this year. Last year when families were preparing smaller meals at home, retail sales, especially of smaller birds, were hot. And fewer restaurants bought. This year restaurants devoured more of his supply, said Tiefenbrun. And a demand for larger birds returned.

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