Similkameen Turkey Farm prepares gobblers for Christmas season

Similkameen Turkey Farm's recent humane certification means higher quality and taste for local consumers

Kris Friesen of Similkameen Turkey Farm. The facility was recently certified humane

Kris Friesen was a busy man on the afternoon of November 20, after a sudden surge of cold air enveloped the Lower Similkameen.

“I had a water line break, and I’m trying to keep my birds from freezing,” he explained, as he dismounted from his tractor.

Kris, along with wife Jody, are the new managers of Similkameen Turkey Farm, previously VanDieman’s.

The business changed hands roughly a year ago, and is now owned by Brian Pauls of Abbotsford. The Pauls family own a number of turkey farms in the Lower Mainland and on the prairies.

The Friesens arrived in Keremeos five months ago, and since then, Kris has been a very busy man,  last Wednesday notwithstanding.

Similkameen Turkey Farm processes 660,000 kilograms of turkey annually, which translates into approximately 88,000 birds.

“It takes about 13 weeks to raise a bird,” Friesen explained, “we processed five flocks in 2013, and we have plans to expand.”

The farm is currently raising the flock bound for Christmas dinner tables this year – 13,500 birds that will complete the growing cycle for the farm for this year.

Friesen said that locally, the farm sells roughly 3,000 birds over the Thanksgiving season, and another 5-6,000 over the Christmas season. The remainder of the flock sells under the Sunrise Poultry label.

Similkameen Turkey Farm is the only free range turkey farm of its size in B.C. – there is one other, but it is miniscule in comparison.

New to the farm this year is its recently acquired humane certification.

“We have spent five months acquiring the certificate,” Friesen said, “we have addressed such issues as the amount of square feet each bird has, measured food and water, a strict diet of vegetable feed and grains, and access to toys and exercise.”

The farm compiles letters of compliance with respect to the components required for humane certification, and there are other technical aspects of the operation that must be satisfied in order to qualify.

“I think I bought out Keremeos Toonie’s complete supply of toy balls,” Freisen chuckled. Other enhancements, are provided in an effort to ensure that while the birds are alive, they are unstressed, and hopefully, happy. The better living conditions of the birds result in better flavour, and healthier meat.

Local orders for birds from Similkameen Turkey Farms are still welcome, and, according to Friesen, always available.

“I’m going to ensure that birds and bird parts will be available at all times,” said Friesen, who said that no one is turned away from the farm’s retail gate.

“This Thanksgiving was awesome,” he said, “we were able to supply everyone, even those who had forgotten to reserve.”

Other than having to deal with a sudden onslaught of cold air  and the odd bald eagle, Friesen said that he felt the Lower Similkameen was a nearly perfect spot to locate a poultry farm.

“There are no other poultry farms nearby, so therefore little chance of cross-contamination,” he explained. “The dry weather here is also a key factor – when birds get wet, they get sick.”

Friesen has another couple of weeks to go before the final flock of the year is shipped to the Lower Mainland for slaughter. The birds are normally processed here, but a province wide dismissal of inspectors has temporarily forced Similkameen Farms to transport the birds to larger facilities on the coast for processing.

Local consumers who are concerned about where their food comes from and how it is grown can continue to take heart in the knowledge that the locally grown poultry they’ve known for years will continue to be not only available but healthier and tastier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Okanagan’s smoke filled skies toxic to pets

Pet owners should take extra precautions with pets until smoke dissipates

Air support grounded as fires fill the skies with smoke

Update Aug. 19 1:25 p.m. A majority of air support is still… Continue reading

Crews continue extinguish Snowy Mountain Wildfire

The 13,359 hectare wildfire is classified as held

Smoke cancels Super League Penticton, organizers give pros a gift

Super League Penticton organizers decide to send all pro competitors to championship

Smoky skies means stay inside, according to Interior Health

The air quality in the Okanagan is considered a high risk

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Flights from Kelowna International Airport affected by wildfire smoke

Passengers are being asked to check their flight’s status before arriving

Work continues on Monashee Complex wildfires

Crews will be assisted by helicopters if flying conditions improve

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

UPDATE Gottfriedsen Mountain wildfire now classified as under control

Firefighters are working alongside the military to extinguish the wildfire near West Kelowna

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

Most Read