There was a post about this, on the facebook regen ag group, I thought I would do a standalone article actually saying what my model is, precisely vs. well intended attempts to describe it by others. The key is I am not trying to be a turkey farmer here and this little micro income is only due to a quirk in polt pricing.
I sat looking at the pricing on Cackle Hatchery about 119 bucks for 15 polts shipped or 89 dollars for 5, I wanted 5, only 5 given the size they get that is about all the meat I want from them. But this is the reality I could have either paid 17 bucks a polt for 5 or gotten 15 for about 7 a piece. Well, you know what I did, I ordered 15.
Now I have done NO pre marketing because I had no plans to sell turkey this year. I also have no state approved processor that will allow me to get them processed then resell. I absolutely do not have the time to self process or any desire to do so. There are loop holes but I don’t really have more time to jack around much. So the process is simple, offer a low price, get the customer to do some work, make a small profit of money and nice profit of free meat.
In the end Cackle sent me 17 polts, one died the day of arrival the rest are doing great, if they made it this long likely I will raise 16 to adulthood. A very conservative average dressed weight on these birds will be 30 lbs. I raised three birds last year and they dressed at 37, 34 and 28 pounds, the 28 pound one was a hen. This means you are looking at live weights closer to 40 pounds.
So the reality is that in a few months I will have 600-700 pounds of live giant birds to deal with, I will have no way to process them myself (no time) and if I did process them all I do not have freezer space. My processor is not state approved for resale he can only process for the consumer. I would need additional crates and to rent a trailer to take all of them there anyway.
My solution is to sell 11 this way, you come get your birds, you take them to the processor, you get them processed for 8 bucks a bird, you weigh them, you pay me 3 dollars a pound on the honor system.
This gives both my customers and myself a pretty wide window to have them harvested. It is clean and above all it is legal and involves very little work for me. Many want to point out that pastured turkey sells for a lot more. Well, sure it does, in a package all nicely processed of course. That is NOT an option for me. I don’t have the time, this is not a key business unit, I just want ease of sale, no extra work, to provide a great product at a really great price and to get a lot of great quality meat at no real cost to myself.
So here are the all-important numbers
Feed (estimated) $400.00 this is high by the way.
My Personal Processing Fees for my 5 birds $40.00
My labor is irrelevant I was going to raise 5 for myself anyway. There is not much work as you will see anyway. There is certainly no more work for me to raise 16 vs. 5. If I was raising 500 this would be quite different.
Total Expenses $599.00
Income based on average weight of 30 pounds dressed, again this is VERY conservative.
11 Turkeys at 30 lbs avg – $990.00
5 Turkeys for personal meat 150 pounds of meat.
Now many say 3 dollars is too low, I totally 100% agree. Pastured birds go for 5-10 dollars a pound or more but let us go low, 5 bucks a pound. So my meat profit is $750.00 worth of meat to my family.
Total income – $1740.00
Total Expenses – $599.00
Profit $1141.00 However only 391 of it is taxable as income (cash), there is no tax on me eating my own birds! And again all my numbers are very conservative.
I get 5 birds and about 400 bucks in my pocket, had I not done this I would spend the same amount of time, gotten my five birds and paid about 200 dollars in cost for them. This is not really a business model what it is amounts to NOT LEAVING MONEY ON THE TABLE.
Now as to why this is so little work. My property is divided into 4 paddocks, we have almost no predator pressure, one time and that one is DEAD. Once the birds are about the size of a duck, they go out no tractor, no electro net, no nothing. They sleep on the ground; I just make sure they have a feeder and water source in their paddock. Once a week we move them to the next paddock, they get so tame they just follow you so this takes opening a gate and leading them.
There is nothing else, no more, that is all.
Again this is called not leaving money on the table. People that win with money do this many times every year. Where and how can I take what I would do anyway and make it profitable? 400 bucks here, 750 dollars in meat there, and it just adds up over the year and over your life time.
Now if I was farming turkeys for a living, even part of one, I would
- Charge more
- Not try to do it on this small piece of land
- Have to locate a state or federally approved processor
But I don’t have to charge more and want them all sold the end, no muss no fuss. I don’t have a bigger piece of land and farming is a side income for me and there isn’t a facility that can do this within 5 hours of me. So I can sit and pout and not raise turkeys or I can raise 5 for myself and pay to do so, or I can raise 16 total and be paid to raise 5 for myself.
I wrote this article to explain not really how to raise 16 turkeys and make a profit but how to think as a small homesteader and small producer. How to feed yourself the best quality food you can, give people a really fair deal and make a bit of money. There are many ways to do so. Likely many of you don’t have the land and lack of predators I do and this won’t work for you, the key is, what will? You must determine that for yourself, but next time you have a price point break on anything, THINK and see if you can figure out a multiple win scenario and don’t leave money on the table.