Jillian Garrigues

About Jillian Garrigues

Video: Hidden Treasures — Zion Farms, Free-Range Turkeys

PONTOTOC, Miss. (WCBI) – We are all looking forward to our Thanksgiving meal, and turkey is always the main attraction on the dinner table. While most of us will buy our holiday bird frozen at the grocery store, one Pontotoc farm is encouraging others to try something different with fresh, free-range turkeys.

It’s a sunny afternoon at Zion Farms, and the turkeys are roaming free. Ron Brandon and his family have been raising turkeys for Thanksgiving since they began their farm in 2000. This year they will sell nearly 200 Broad Breasted White Turkeys from their Pontotoc free-range farm.

“It’s the industry standard bird, but it’s a different environment and a different way to raise them. They have no antibiotics, no hormones, no animal products in their feed for protein or anything like that. They’re in the pasture, on the grass, sunshine, bugs, an all natural environment, and we raise the birds like that,” Brandon said.

The Brandons order the birds from a hatchery in Ohio. They pick the turkeys up at the post office in early July and raise them through Thanksgiving. The toms and hens will grow to an average 15 pounds. The week of Thanksgiving the turkeys are processed and sold fresh, not frozen.

“They have tremendous flavor over a normal store bought bird. It’s fresh, it’s never frozen, the flavor is there. Most people love the moisture. They just do not dry out like a normal commercial bird does when you cook it,” said Brandon.

The open air raising can make for a healthier bird. The turkeys eat a custom feed that is high protein and packed with vitamins and probiotics. In 13 years, the birds at Zion Farms have never had any problems with disease or sickness.

“Not only do you have the health benefits, but also you’re buying local. It’s a local product, you’re putting money back into your local area, economy and people,” Brandon said.

The turkeys cost $3.35 a pound. You have to call ahead to place an order. For more information visit www.localharvest.org, or call (662) 419-1003.