Ky. free-range turkey farm helps make Thanksgiving special

Tewes Poultry farm, a family business in Erlanger, will sell about 2,500 free-range turkeys this Thanksgiving.

This month Americans will come together to celebrate and give thanks. Thanksgiving has become a holiday for family, football and feasting.

For many families, the centerpiece of the celebration is the turkey. And hundreds of those turkeys will come from a Northern Kentucky farm. 

The National Turkey Federation estimates that more than 46 million turkeys will be consumed this Thanksgiving. At least 2,500 of those will be purchased from Tewes Poultry farm in Erlanger

Dan Tewes steps into the industrial sized refrigerator and brings out a 39-and-a-half pound turkey that will kick off the holiday season for a group of employees at the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky international airport. 

Tewes poultry has been a family affair since the early 1900s and now Dan and his wife Darlene own the farm. 

Dan has been raising and selling free-range turkeys all his life. On this day, nearly 1,500 of the birds roam the barn. 

No bones about it, Tewes said this time of year either makes or breaks his business and, he said, raising free-range quality turkeys is hard work.

“I had to put extra straw down to keep them dry,”said Tewes.

This week a few thousand people will flock to the Tewes farm to pick up their main course. Darlene said, with 2,500 fresh turkeys to prepare from start to finish, it’s a blessing that family comes back to help before the big holiday. 

“We have about probably 70 family members that come and help us that weekend. But we have a lot of extended family cause my husband is one of 17 children. There are 80 grandchildren in the family and now we have great grandchildren who also help us. So everybody knows their jobs and everybody you know, from little kids on up, my husband’s siblings, some of them are in their 70s now and they still come. So everybody that comes in here gets a fresh turkey,” said Darlene Tewes.

Just a week before Thanksgiving and the phone is ringing off the hook. Allison Tewes has taken more than 60 orders before 11a.m. 

“People just love it … some guy called today and he just said he wants the biggest one … whatever one the biggest one we have, he said he wants it,” explained Allison Tewes. 

Satisfied customers return year after year. Blanche Shuh said her family will gobble up more than one Tewes turkey.

“Thanksgiving is so special. We have a big family. Nine kids. My son-in-law is from France and he’s a wonderful cook, and he’s having Thanksgiving and he gets his turkeys here. He knows good food. You know, fresh. He believes in it. And we all love going to their house on Thanksgiving for that reason. So what I intend to do is fix a turkey for myself because when you go to somebody else’s house you don’t get leftovers. So I want to have a turkey, which I’ll fix today and tomorrow and slice it and freeze it and have it while I’m still having the wonderful memory of Thanksgiving at my son-in-law’s,” said Shuh. 

When it comes to cooking the bird, Darlene Tewes said she enjoys trying new things, whether it’s on the grill or deep-fried. But husband Dan said, as far as he’s concerned, there’s only one way to eat a turkey. 

“On Thanksgiving Day I want a fresh turkey right out of the oven,” said Dan Tewes. 

Copyright 2021 WEKU. To see more, visit WEKU.

Ky. free-range turkey farm helps make Thanksgiving special

WEKU

This story first ran on WEKU, the public radio station at Eastern Kentucky University.

Stay Informed