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Farm to Table: Raising a Thanksgiving turkey in Southern Arizona

High supply costs make raising turkeys even more expensive for local farmers in Cochise County
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Posted at 7:44 AM, Nov 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-16 09:44:25-05

BENSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The star of the Thanksgiving meal is reported to cost you 23% more than last year. For local farmers, inflation has impacted them just as much as consumers in a grocery store.

Michael Muthart, a poultry farmer in Benson talks about raising a turkey in Southern Arizona and the rising costs he is facing head-on.

Top Knot Farms received over 100-day-old turkeys back in March. Their turkeys take about 7 months to fully grow before being butchered on-site and in the hands of customers.

High supply costs for feed, fuel, fertilizer and labor make raising turkeys even more expensive for local farmers here in Cochise County.

But, they say the extra dollars added to your turkey tab are worth it.

"The birds grow up in a different environment obviously they are not growing up in warehouses they are out here on grass and getting a non-GMO feed. When you buy a bird from us everything that was in the bird stays in the bird," said Michael Muthart, Poultry Farmer at Top Knot Farms.

When a turkey comes frozen, during the thawing process it loses a lot of water making the taste not as flavorful.

Climate and location are also a big part in raising poultry. Top Knot Farm says Southern Arizona is a farmer's dream due to warmer temperatures and small amounts of below-freezing days, making it easier to raise turkeys year-round.

Top Knot Farms sold 80 turkeys this year and they sold out in September. Top Knot Farms sells its poultry only in Arizona, and they sell directly at the Heirloom Farmers Market in Tucson. But for Thanksgiving turkeys, they recommend purchasing over the summer.

Brooke Chau is a reporter for KGUN 9. She was a part of Fresno State's newscast, Fresno State Focus and interned at KFSN-ABC30 in Fresno, CA before coming to KGUN 9. Share your story ideas and important issues with Brooke by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.