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Turkeys at Spratt Farms contemplate their future as Thanksgiving approaches. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
November 16, 2011 - Atlas Twp.- This Thursday, millions of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving with a traditional turkey dinner. On as many as 154 local tables will be turkeys that township farmer Steve Spratt raised.

Spratt, who co-owns Spratt Farms, 11418 Hill Road, with wife Arlene, has been raising turkeys (as well as chickens and vegetables) for 30 years.

"We take orders for them and these are all sold," said Spratt of the 154 broad-breasted white turkeys raised this year. "They will be picked up two days before Thanksgiving."

Spratt buys day-old chicks from a nursery in Ohio in June. This year, he lost 70 turkeys when Consumers Energy turned off power to repair their lines. The chicks need to be kept warm to survive. He ordered more, and said that accounts for some smaller turkeys. The turkeys range in size from 17 pounds up to 40 pounds, which he said can feed 25-30 people.

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Raising turkeys is hard work, said Spratt. Besides keeping them warm, they need to have food and water in front of them all the time. He feeds them a grain mix of corn, soybean and wheat. The turkeys are free-range, going in and out of the barn. They must be kept clean and out of the rain, as turkeys are susceptible to disease and a form of pneumonia.

Spratt has someone else process the turkeys for him, as he doesn't have the equipment or time to do 150. The turkeys will be bagged and ready to go with customers on Tuesday. One couple that gets their turkey from the Spratt Farm takes "before and after" photos of their turkey to show their guests.

As for the Spratts, they usually host a Thanksgiving dinner for 14 to 15 guests at their home.

"I like all the trimmings with the turkey," said Steve. "You gotta have the mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, all that stuff. Arlene takes care of the cooking. She has the Thanksgiving touch."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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