Some parts of the day, they’ll grub around in the grass looking for insects, bits of grain or grass and whatever else they can find.
Of if it’s too hot or cold, they’ll go back inside the barn, where they can get more feed.
At Skye-Hi Farms in Yarrow, it’s basically their choice.
As free-range turkeys, hens mostly, the birds get to do whatever they please – until the big day comes when they’re carted off to the processors to become Christmas or Thanksgiving dinners.
Trevor Allen is a former Maple Ridge resident who used to operate Skye-Hi Farms on Gilker Hill, just off Kanaka Way.
Now he’s doing the same thing on a larger scale in the lush fields of Yarrow, near Chilliwack, where the lifestyle is idyllic as it gets if you’re a farm animal.
The birds spend their nights in clean barns, then in the morning are let out to graze around in the grass to their heart’s content.
They’re not fed any medications or growth hormones and are certified free-range.
While Skye-Hi has left Maple Ridge, Meridian Meats’ Maple Ridge location on Lougheed Highway, a few kilometres from the old farm, remains its biggest customer.
Josh Penner at Meridian Meats says the turkeys sell for about $4.50 a pound and are worth the extra cents per pound.
“They are the best turkeys. They are the juiciest turkeys.”
Part of the appeal of ordering a free-range turkey is that people know the animals are raised in optimal conditions. And eating an unmedicated bird with no growth hormones is another bonus.
“People are more health conscious, there’s no doubt about it,” said Penner.
The Skye-Hi birds are the only certified free-range birds that he knows of that are sold in stores, he says. And Meridian Meats buys all of them, this year 700 birds, about five times from a decade ago.
To show people the conditions of the free-range birds, Penner has posted a video on his website, http://meridianmeats.ca/, showing Skye-Hi Farms operation.
Meridian also sells about 300 free-run birds that come from Rossdown Farms in Abbotsford. Free-run turkeys stay in the barn confines, although they can run where they please.
People like to know where their food comes from, says Penner. It’s one family business supporting another family business.
At Hopcott Premium Meats, free-run turkeys from JD Farms in Langley are also available.