Do you want to start a turkey farming business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a turkey farming business with NO money and no experience plus a sample turkey farming business plan template. Turkey is delicious. It tastes great and that is why some folks cannot have enough of it. Turkey is mostly reared for the meat, and the meat is regarded as the leanest amongst all other domestic bird species.

Turkey farming is very popular not only in the united states but also in other countries as well such as Canada, Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy and the United Kingdom, with the annual per capita consumption of turkey meat in these countries falling between 4 – 8kg every year. As at 2004, the estimated turkey meat production all over the world was 4.94 million tonnes.

If you are looking to start a turkey farm, you have the option of producing two kinds of the bird – frozen or fresh. Most turkey farmers especially the commercial ones produce the two. Most of the turkeys commercially sold in the United States are of the white broad-breasted variety and this is the breed of turkey that receives a presidential pardon.

In the United States, turkey is consumed as the main course during Christmas as well as during thanksgiving, but its consumption is not limited to these occasions only as turkey is eaten all year round and it is a regular part of many diets. For a detailed knowledge of how to kick start your turkey farm, read on.

17 Steps to Starting a Turkey Farming Business

1. Understand the Industry

The turkey meat production industry is one that has no companies with a dominant market share. Even though the industry generates about $33 billion annually, it has had a 0.1 percent annual growth between the periods of 2012 and 2017.

There are about 53,039 chicken and turkey meat producing companies in the United States employing more than 60, 500 individuals. The growth experienced in the industry has been due to increasing health consciousness among consumers towards white meat. However, not all farms are doing well despite the growth as small farms are operating with tiny margins with some selling their operations to larger farms.

Most successful poultry farms that are in the industry have been in existence for 10 years upwards and are often family owned enterprises that were passed down from past generations. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t new successful poultry farms in operation as some new farms have through their successful management taken over family owned poultry farms that are barely struggling to exist.

What new entrants into the industry usually face are the medium level of investment that is required to make the business compete favorably, the competitive nature of an income system that is a contract-based one, as well as having to comply with different environmental regulations.

Even though there are a large number of people eating turkey, the turkey industry is not as rosy as it should be. In 2009, the revenue generated by American turkey farms dropped to $3.57 billion from the $4.48 billion that was recorded the previous year.

The reason for the drop in revenue, according to Watt Poultry, was due majorly to the recession which caused a drop in domestic sales as well as in exports. Another reason for the drop in revenue was due to high commodity prices which cut into most turkey farms’ bottom line. The year 2010 was not better as revenue again declined by 0.5 percent.

The turkey industry has not been spared from uncontrollable challenges such as diseases as a highly pathogenic avian influenza broke out in 2015 and caused a devastating effect on the industry. Another challenge that the industry is facing is from human right activists who have influenced and confused consumers regarding the way these turkeys are raised thereby causing an adverse effect on the purchasing pattern of consumers.

This is regardless of the fact that the industry is a strictly regulated one as most of the turkeys are allowed to roam freely, are being fed with healthy and natural diets and are slaughtered under safe and sanitary conditions.

The percentage of those consuming poultry meat as against red meat has however increased over the years as more consumers are consciously choosing poultry meat according to the USDA. According to the National Turkey Federation, the industry in the past two decades has experienced unprecedented growth.

This is because the industry has grown from a holiday-oriented, single product market to one that is diversified, year round as well as having a value added product line. Nowadays, turkey products are being marketed in a variety of ways and have been adopted by health-conscious consumers.

The last decade has seen a lot of increase in turkey consumption as the largest product sales in the industry has been ground turkey. This is due to the fact that ground turkey is seen as having a lower fat substitute when compared to ground beef.

Another factor that has caused immense benefit to the industry is food safety and environmental concerns as consumers perceive turkey to be more wholesome. The turkey industry has also been able to respond to consumer demand for taste and convenience by pre-cooking poultry items such as turkey strips, turkey bacon, deli breast and turkey ham, and then selling them at convenience markets. All these have caused a tremendous growth in the industry.

Production of turkey in the United States rose by 3 percent in 2014 with a record 2.7 million tons on the prices for lower feeds. Exports rose by 5 percent to 354,000 tons as shipments expanded to East Asia even though Mexico retained its position as the major market.

Producers of turkey will continue to benefit from the economies of scale that is associated with the horizontal and vertical integration of the industry. It is expected that poultry purchases will continually rise as white meat consumption increases to the detriment of red meat and pork.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who consume turkey ranges from those in the upper income bracket down to those in the lower income bracket and cuts across all races of people.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

Niche ideas are usually used by entrepreneurs looking to generate more revenue for themselves as well as stand out from their competitors. Niche ideas have to be researched upon thoroughly so that the entrepreneur does not waste time and effort on something that will not be beneficial.

The turkey farm industry is not one that has a lot of niche ideas and products for operators; those that that can be said to be faced with a lot of niche ideas are the processing and packaging segment of the industry. Some of the niche ideas that are within this particular business that one can specialize in include;

  • Turkeys
  • Organic Operations
The Level of Competition in the Industry

Turkeys are widely consumed and exported in the United States of America and so as a new entrant, you are likely going to be overwhelmed by the level of competition that exists in the industry especially as already existing producers have a somewhat firm hold on the industry.

Even though all customers want are either frozen or fresh turkeys, how to get your turkeys into grocery stores, supermarkets and restaurants where it will get to these consumers is one challenge that you are going to be facing as a new entrant especially as most existing operators have cornered most of the supply market.

Also, even though turkeys are consumed by millions of Americans, it doesn’t mean that you will suddenly break even or start with overwhelming success in your first few years and so you ought to be prepared on how you are going to break into the industry and get a fair share for yourself.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

The Turkey Farm business in the United States is a very huge one as Americans not only enjoy eating turkey but also is the largest exporter of turkey. There are therefore very prominent turkey farms all over the United States. Below are some of the well-known turkey farms in the United States of America;

  • Cooper Farms
  • Foster Farms
  • House of Raeford Farms, Inc
  • Perdue Farms, Inc
  • Zack Farms, LLC
  • Koch’s Turkey Farm
Economic Analysis

The turkey bird and its meat has such a huge impact on the economy of the United States because the country is the largest exporter of turkey and its related products as nearly 361,884 metric tons (MT) of turkey meat was exported by the U.S in 2012 alone. The next year (2013) saw a 13 percent increase from the value of 2012 as turkey products were valued at approximately $679 million.

Mexico is the number one purchaser of the U.S turkey meat and it accounts for 55 percent of the export market. It has purchased turkey meat that is valued at $372 million. China is the second largest market, purchasing more than $70 million of U.S turkey meat. Other significant markets are Canada and Hong Kong.

This is not to say that the United States doesn’t import turkey meat as well but it only imports a small percentage mainly from Chile and Canada. According to the USDA, even though exports constitute a major part of the turkey market in the United States, domestic consumption is way higher than in other countries as a 2012 report has it that a person in the United States consumed 16.4 pounds of turkey.

Even though the production of turkey is not tied to any particular state or region in the United States; however by 2012, based on the number of turkeys raised, five states came out tops; Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri and Virginia. Minnesota produced turkey that was valued at $839.1 billion while North Carolina’s value of turkey production was at $848.8 million.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

Buying a franchise is an option that is open to entrepreneurs in certain industries as not all industries offer franchise opportunities for new entrepreneurs looking to start a business. Every entrepreneur starting a business is faced with the prospect of either buying a franchise or starting the business from scratch, especially as each option has its pros and cons.

It is advised that you start small and grow big with your turkey farm. As such, you do not need a franchise.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

When starting a business as an entrepreneur, it is imperative that you expect threats and challenges and make preparations on how you will handle them whenever they crop up. Threats and challenges are part and parcel of everyday life and the business environment is no different. It should however be noted that not all threats and challenges can be handled and when this happens, the best you can do is remain optimistic.

Some of the threats and challenges that you are likely to face when starting your turkey farm include; dealing with already existing operators, outbreak of avian diseases, changing consumer tastes and preferences, start-up capital as well as strict industry regulations.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

One of the most important decisions you will ever make when looking to start your turkey farm is what legal structure to choose; this is because the legal structure you eventually decide upon will have an impact on how you run your daily operations, how decisions are made as well as what responsibilities you the owner has.

As a farmer, there are five basic legal entities that you can form your business under and they are; sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation or cooperative. What makes the entities differ from one another are attributes such as ownership, liability, governance, taxes and what your long and short term goals as a turkey farmer are.

The sole proprietorship is the simplest legal entity that a farmer can form. A large percentage of livestock farms (about 35 percent) as well as crop farms (about 36 percent) are under the sole proprietorship structure. Under a sole proprietorship, the farmer has a complete control over the business – including assets and profits. The farmer is also held for all the debts and liabilities that the business incurs. Finally, the income of the business is reported on the personal return of the farmer.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

One of the ways of legalizing your business is by giving it a name. A name sets your business apart from that of your competitors and so it is necessary that it be catchy and indicative of the industry you are in. It is also necessary that you have many options when it comes to naming your business so that if the name you intend to use has been chosen by someone else, you can easily have back-up options.

Below are some catchy business names that are suitable for your turkey farm;

  • Bosh Turkey Farms Inc
  • Edible Birds Farms
  • Frank Livestock Farms
  • Big Birds Farm Inc
  • Quality Bird Farms

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

Running a turkey farm can be quite risky and unpredictable which is why it is important to have insurance policies. When you have insurance, you are able to protect your turkeys against unexpected accidents, diseases and events that could have a negative impact on your business and in extension your livelihood.

You can either choose a basic or comprehensive insurance policy for your turkey farm; however before setting aside your budget, ensure that you speak with an insurance agent or broker on what policies will best suit your turkey farm. Below are some of the insurance policies that you will need to purchase if you are looking to start your turkey farm in the United States of America;

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

Intellectual property protection is usually considered by entrepreneurs who are into the invention of new ideas – real or virtual. The turkey farm business is a hands-on business and as such you do not need to worry about applying for an intellectual property protection.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Most farmers that own turkey farms had it passed down to them from the previous generations. This goes to show that anyone with enough time and dedication can start and run the business successfully and therefore a professional certification is not needed.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

Every entrepreneur starting a business knows that it is necessary to have legal documents in place so as not to have any problems with the law. Raising turkeys for sale is a business that is in a strictly regulated industry and so it is necessary that you get all the list of legal documents required to make you run your business stress-free.

Below are some of the legal documents that you will need to run your turkey farm;

  • Business Plan
  • Business License and Permit
  • Insurance Policy
  • Employment Agreement
  • Contracts Document
  • Operating Agreement
  • Employee Identification Number (EIN)
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Federal Tax Identification Number

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

The fact that you have a business idea does not mean that it will immediately come to fruition no matter how many plans you put in place, if there is no start-up capital available. Finance is the difference between idea and reality and as an entrepreneur you should know this. Sourcing for finance is usually not an easy task but as an entrepreneur, you have no choice especially if you are serious about the business you intend to start.

Below are several ways that you can finance your turkey farm;

  • Start up the business with your savings or revenue from the sale of property
  • Source for soft loan from friends and family members
  • Get a private investor or business partner to commit funds
  • Apply to the commercial bank for a loan

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

When looking to start your turkey farm, your location might not be such a big deal especially if you live in the country as the birds can be raised on your property. The reason why your location is not that important is because you are not going to have to deal with the end consumer most of the times as those you will deal with are retailers – grocery stores, supermarkets etc.

If however your place is not suitable for you to raise your birds or you are looking to start off on a very large scale, then you might need to buy or lease a land for your use. Ensure that the land is large enough to accommodate the number of birds you intend to raise.

You might need to consult with a real estate agent to help you secure a location that is within the zoning regulations as you cannot raise birds just anywhere. Ensure that the agent knows what your budget towards leasing or buying the land is.

If you are going to be buying or leasing a land, then you should know that constructions will have to be done as against you already owning a ranch and these renovations will have to be factored into your budget as well. Ensure that your location can easily be accessed by your employees and that the environment is conducive for the birds and for your employees.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

When starting your turkey farm, it is important that you decide on what breed you intend to rear, the popular breeds are the broad-breasted whites, standard bronze and white Holland. Once you have procured your poults in the spring, you will need to set up a brooder area that has a feeding and water trough. It is essential that the temperature of the brooder area falls between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week and then lower the temperature slowly by cooling it by 5 degrees each week.

You can decide to let your turkeys live outside on range in a fenced pen with a moveable roost assembly. If the turkeys are going to live on range, ensure that the grass is between four and six inches long. Ensure that the fence keeps out predators such as foxes, raccoons and coyotes.

There are certain equipment and tools that you will require in order to run your turkey farm efficiently and they include feeders, water pots and drinkers, heaters or brooders, incubator, poultry plucker rubber finger, cages, and dressing machine. Administratively, you will also require a phone, computer and other office supplies.

If you are going to be running a large scale turkey farm, then you will need to build a solid structure and hire employees to help you out. Ensure that the employees are competent and they understand your core corporate values. Those you should be looking towards hiring are; farm manager, workers in charge of feeding and cleaning up after the turkeys, driver and accountant.

From the above breakdown, you will need at least 5 key individuals to help run your farm efficiently.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

In starting your turkey farm, it is essential that you first prepare the area where the poults will be housed by ensuring that it is not only clean but draft free as well. The enclosure should be spacious enough so that each turkey can have at least one square foot of space before placing your orders from a reputable hatchery.

Once the poults arrive, ensure that they are placed in the new home quickly and also ensure that you leave the heat lamp on. Make sure that the chicks have their beaks dipped in the water trough immediately they arrive so that they will know for themselves where the water source is. If everything goes well, the chicks should start feeding and taking in water within the first few hours of their arrival.

Once the birds are eight weeks, you can remove the heat lamps and then switch their feed to grower mix. If you live in a warmer climate, then you can put the birds out to pasture at this stage. Once they are 14 weeks, put the birds on the finishing ration.

Between 22 to 28 weeks, depending on the sex and breed of the turkey that you are rearing, they will be ready for dressing, which can be done at your poultry or at another location. If at another location, then it is necessary that you get poultry cages so that they can easily be transported without hassles.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

Marketing is a very delicate and sensitive part of a business because you are expected to know what it is your customers want and then seek to satisfy these wants which may not be easy if you have not conducted a thorough research into the market you are going into.

The point of conducting a market research is so that you are able to identify your target market and know what it is they expect from you and what you should expect from them as well. You will also from your market research know who your competitors are, their weaknesses and strengths and what you should expect from them.

Once you have a thorough understanding of the market you are going into, it will be easier to write out your overall marketing policies and from there create the strategies that should guide your business in the short and long run. Monitoring your marketing strategies from time to time is very essential because you will be able to weed out strategies that are ineffective and modify those that need a little modification to work.

Below are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that are available for your turkey farm;

  • Ensure that you place adverts in local newspapers, agriculture, food and lifestyle magazines as well as on local radio and television stations about your turkey farm
  • Create a YouTube channel and guide people through the art of raising turkey
  • Ensure that your turkey farm business is listed in farmers’ guide, yellow pages as well as online directories
  • Attend livestock farmers seminars and conventions in order to remain aware of industry trends and regulations while also using the chance to market your business
  • Work with other farmers by forming a cooperative in order to be able to market your turkey meat to larger markets
  • Install flexi banners in various strategic locations in order to create awareness for your turkey farm

17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

Publicity is very important to the growth and sustainability of a business and an entrepreneur who intends to create awareness for his or her business will do well to cultivate their corporate identity by engaging in campaigns that will put the company in a positive light.

Before crafting any publicity strategy for your turkey farm, it is essential that you study the market well in order to determine which publicity strategies will best work for your business. One thing with publicity is that it not only helps you penetrate the market by catching the attention of your intended target market and getting a fair share for yourself, it also helps you to fairly compete against your competitors, which is why several successful businesses do not mind spending a huge fortune to boost the awareness of their brand whilst positively communicating their corporate identity.

You should know that not all strategies will work for your turkey farm and that what works for one turkey farmer in one state might not work for you in your own state. The best that you can do is constantly review your publicity strategies and then remove those that aren’t working or modify those that need to be tweaked.

The internet is a great place to start publicizing your business as it offers a cheap and alternative source for entrepreneurs. There are several mediums available over the internet and while you may not use all, you should know which ones will help you achieve your intended goals and objectives.

Below are some of the strategies that you can use to boost the awareness for your brand and also create a corporate identity for your business;

  • Ensure that you install flexi banners in various strategic locations around the area where your turkey farm is
  • Encourage your loyal customers to help spread the word about your turkey farm
  • Join your local association so that you can create awareness for your turkey farm
  • Create a website and showcase your farm; deploy SEO strategy to ensure that your website ranks tops in search engines
  • Ensure that you place adverts about your turkey farm in local newspapers and magazines as well as on radio stations
  • Get a Facebook and Twitter account and use this to create awareness for your turkey farm