Why Dorothy Lane’s Thanksgiving prep has already started

When you buy a Bowman & Landes turkey at Dorothy Lane Market for Thanksgiving, behind the scenes there’s been months of planning to ensure the right birds are for sale during the major grocery shopping week.

The locally-raised turkeys are a centerpiece sales item at Dorothy Lane during the lead up to Thanksgiving. They retail for more than a Butterball (last year DLM had whole Bowman turkeys for $3.99 per pound), but plenty of interested customers still flock to Dorothy Lane’s three local grocery stores willing to pay a premium.

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But to have these particular turkeys, raised free range with non-GMO feed, it requires a special order so Dorothy Lane struck up a partnership with Bowman & Landes, a fourth generation family farm in New Carlisle.

“Something about doing things local to us at Dorothy Lane is very powerful,” said Jack Gridley, Dorothy Lane’s VP of meat and seafood, adding “it’s amazing they (Bowman & Landes) took the challenge and decided they would partner.”

For the holiday season, Gridley said they sold an excess of 5,000 birds and that doesn’t count everything they sell throughout the year.

Gridley said he just got together with Bowman & Landes to project how many birds they will need for the November holiday.

Andrew Bowman, co-owner at Bowman & Landes, said they give a hatchery ample notice and the poults transfer over to the farm when they are one-day old.

Bowman said part of the process is getting the right range of sizes for what customers want, and they have to work on the timing and feeding in order to get turkeys to the right size by Thanksgiving shopping.

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“It’s an inexact science. There’s always going to be trials and tribulations, if you will,” Bowman said.

On average, it will take about 14 to 20 weeks for the turkey to get to market age. They grow two flocks of hens (female) and one flock of the toms (male) turkeys for Dorothy Lane. Hens are typically going to be smaller turkeys whereas toms are going to be larger.

Dorothy Lane offers turkeys from around 10 pounds to 26 pounds plus, which is a wide disparity, said Bowman. That’s why they start them growing on different dates, starting with a flock of hens, then the tom flock and then the hen flock.

They have to monitor the turkeys weights and starting at about four or five weeks of age, they start weighing the turkeys every week. They look at historical weights from prior seasons and look at where they need to be.

“It’s interesting though, because you can feed one flock of turkeys the same feed as another flock of turkeys and they don’t always necessarily grow at exactly the same rate again. So each flock is going to have their own nuances,” Bowman said.

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