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Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022

Cooper Farms takes ‘Turkey Tour’ to kids

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

With Thanksgiving about a month away, Cooper Farms, which has been selected to provide the National Turkey to President Barack Obama this year, has implemented a “Turkey Tour” to let area students see two varieties of turkeys and learn more about the birds.

Cassie Jo Arends (standing, right) talks to children at Wee Care Learning Center on Thursday while the kids view a Spanish black and slate blue turkey brought in for the presentation. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)
Cassie Jo Arends (standing, right) talks to children at Wee Care Learning Center on Thursday while the kids view a Spanish black and slate blue turkey brought in for the presentation. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

“They (turkeys) seem to be the forgotten bird,” said Cassie Jo Arends of Cooper Farms. “Everybody knows about chickens, but nobody knows about turkeys, so that’s sort of part of what we’ve been doing, (and) teaching them what it’s like to be a turkey farmer and all that kind of stuff.”

Although most Americans are familiar with the white commercial breed of turkey — the one that usually shows up on people’s table at Thanksgiving — Arends and Cole Cooper, a scion of the family-owned Cooper Farms, were on the road Thursday to show off two lesser-known breeds of turkeys: a Spanish black and a slate gray. The Van Wert independent caught up with the pair at Wee Care Learning Center, where they were entertaining a group of youngsters with information on turkeys.

Arends and Cooper also made presentations at Lincolnview and Van Wert elementary schools, although Arends said that, because of the younger age, the presentation at Wee Care was not as involved as those at the elementary schools.

Cooper Farms is raising four varieties of turkeys this year to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Turkey foundation. In addition to the commercial white, Spanish black and slate gray varieties, Cooper said Cooper Farms is raising bronze heritage birds as well.

“It’s just like dogs,” Arend said. “There are different colors, different sizes.”

Turkeys on display at Wee Care 10-30-14
The “stars” of Cooper Farms’ Turkey Tour meet their public at Wee Care Learning Center on Thursday. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Cooper said the white commercial birds tend to be bigger than the other breeds, although some other breeds can fly much better.

The turkey to be “pardoned” by President Obama this year will be a traditional white commercial bird, Cooper, who is raising the birds at his house in Fort Recovery, noted, adding that Cooper Farms started with a flock of 60 birds and have culled that number down to about 20, en route to a final selection of two birds to be taken to Washington, D.C. He added that the “pardoned” birds are placed in a wildlife park in the Washington area where children and their parents can see them after the White House ceremony.

Arends said appearance and behavior are the two main factors in selecting the birds that will go to the White House, with Cooper Farms selecting birds that are both pretty and docile for the trip. Being docile is important, since the birds will have to be taken out of cages and placed on a table for the President to view.

The Wee Care children, including Arends’ two daughters, were fascinated by the birds and got close — but not close enough to be pecked — to get a good look at the turkeys.

POSTED: 10/31/14 at 7:45 am. FILED UNDER: News