Purdue University’s Department of Animal Sciences in the College of Agriculture will provide a home and care for the National Thanksgiving Turkey and alternate following this week’s National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation at the White House. The turkeys will live at Purdue’s Animal Science Research and Education Center, where they will reside in a separate enclosed indoor setting with access to a shaded grassy area.
Purdue Agriculture’s Department of Animal Sciences includes a nationally recognized poultry program, with experts in nutrition, health, education, behavioral neuroendocrinology, management, behavior and animal welfare.
The turkeys were raised under the supervision of Phil Seger, 2021 National Turkey Federation chairman, and by southern Indiana turkey producer Andrea Welp in cooperation with Farbest Farms. President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey and alternate, then both turkeys will return to Indiana to live at Purdue University following their trip to Washington, D.C.
Andrea Welp and Phil Seger (Courtesy Purdue University)
Indiana is the fourth largest turkey producing state in the nation and ranks first in duck production and second in egg production. The poultry industry contributes more than $12 billion in total economic activity to Indiana and employs more than 12,000 people.
Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture, emphasized the importance of Purdue Agriculture’s connection to Indiana poultry.
“Purdue Agriculture’s animal sciences faculty and Extension educators have a long history with the Indiana poultry industry, including working alongside the Indiana Turkey Market Development Council and Indiana State Poultry Association. We value the importance and potential of our collaborations,” she said.
John Blanton, Animal Sciences department head and professor, looks forward to highlighting the many strengths of Purdue’s poultry program.
“We are extremely fortunate at Purdue to have faculty with a wide range of expertise as well as talented students,” he said. “I am grateful to Dr. Marisa Erasmus and Dr. Greg Fraley, the Terry and Sandra Tucker Endowed Chair of Poultry Science, co-advisors of the Purdue Poultry Club, for leading this project and maximizing the benefits for students and the community.”
Erasmus spoke about this opportunity to educate people about turkeys:
“Although turkeys are an important American cultural tradition, most people do not know much about turkey production and management, so this is an amazing chance for us to increase awareness and knowledge of turkeys’ behavior, personalities and welfare,” Erasmus said.
Educating students will also be a primary focus in the coming months, Fraley said.
“The turkeys will provide a great resource for students to learn more about the poultry industry and about policies that impact poultry production,” he said.
The turkeys, whose names will be announced later this week, will officially be welcomed to Purdue with the Boilermaker Special 1-2 p.m. (weather permitting) Nov. 29 on the Memorial Mall. Animal sciences professors Marisa Erasmus and Greg Fraley will be in attendance and available for interviews.