Bates Turkey Farm

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Coordinates: 31°57′55.46″N 86°29′12.99″W / 31.9654056°N 86.4869417°W / 31.9654056; -86.4869417

Bates Turkey Farm is a domestic turkey[1] producer founded in 1923 and based near Fort Deposit, Alabama[2][3][4] (about thirty miles south of Montgomery, in Lowndes County).[3] A wedding gift of nine turkey eggs was the start of the operation.[5]

The farm is on approximately 900 acres (360 ha) of land and raises free-range turkeys (about 60,000 in 2008) under pecan trees on about 30 of those acres.[6] The farm purchases poults (baby turkeys) from a hatchery in Oakwood, Ohio.[4][5] The turkeys are fed a diet of "freshly ground corn, oats and soybean meal, along with some vitamins"[3] and each "needs 70 pounds of grain to reach slaughter size".[4] The Bates Farm services customers from a wide range of locations, including many that are far-flung, including California, Oregon,[2] and Alaska.[5] Because it is cheaper to raise turkeys in the Mid-West, nearer where the grain they eat is grown, other turkey farms in the state have gone out of business, leaving Bates as the sole remaining in Alabama,[1][3] which once had 150 turkey growers. Turkey prices are highly dependent on feed costs—in 2011 Bates had to double his prices after corn got more expensive.[7]

It is the supplier of Clyde, a series of turkeys that have been ritually pardoned by the governor of Alabama on Thanksgiving since 1949[1][5][8][9] (Clyde was first pardoned by "Big Jim" Folsom)[8] as well as a frozen turkey, which is eaten as the governor's Thanksgiving meal.[4]

In 1969, Willie Claude "Bill" Bates, Jr. [10] opened his first Bates House of Turkey restaurant in Greenville; two more have followed, each serving an all-turkey menu and having turkey-themed decor.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b c Beyerle, Dana (November 22, 2010). "What happens to Clyde after he's pardoned?". The Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Farmer has year to crow about". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. November 27, 1992. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "The stars of Thanksgiving well-treated". Lodi News-Sentinel. UPI. November 10, 1986. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Turkey Day Is Nothing Special For Him". Times Daily. UPI. November 25, 1981. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d Benn, Alvin (2006). "Bates Turkey Farm going strong: Lowndes turkey farmers have national reputation". Cooperative Farming News. Turner Publishing Co., Inc. Archived from the original on April 3, 2012. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  6. ^ Thomas, Nick (November 25, 2008). "For kids: Down on the turkey farm". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  7. ^ Benn, Al (November 24, 2011). "Man Couldn't Be Happier Business Was a Turkey". Montgomery Advertiser. pp. 1C, 4C. Archived from the original on September 22, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Johnson, Bob (November 17, 2004). "Rileys pardon turkey, collect blankets for poor". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Riley pardons Bates' turkey". The Greenville Advocate. November 20, 2008. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  10. ^ Carlton, Bob. "Year of Alabama Food: Bates House of Turkey, Greenville". 

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