Since 1984 this family-owned turkey farm in Dashwood is the place where the Hayter family has developed its passion for premium quality. Their devotion to taste and tradition in every aspect of turkey farming and turkey products continues through three generations and was evident when we met with Joanne recently.
This family decided to raise turkeys because their land was poor and they found that turkey manure proved to be the best fertilizer. They had farmed beef and cash crops until 1993.
The Hayter’s have 13 barns and this is only turkey farm in Huron County that also has the processing plant.
Hayters Turkey grow poults from one day old until they reach average market size of 35lbs, taking toms up to 16 weeks. The hens go to market at 13 weeks at about 18 pounds. Hayters raise 160,000 turkeys per year on their farm in South Huron.
Their onsite store was built in 1983 and has been expanded a couple of times since, although the Hayter’s have had a farm outlet for 50 years. The more recent addition of the LCBO agency store brought increased notice of their products, particularly with the summer market travelling to the lakeshore.
Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving is still the biggest sales opportunities for fresh turkeys. To expand their market, further processing was needed to meet the needs of a time-challenged consumer. Thus, turkey sausage, schnitzel, marinated fillets, wings and drumsticks, and burgers were added to their product lists. Also offered through the store are frozen and fresh turkey products and condiments. Hayter’s Turkey products are labelled with the Foodland Ontario brand.
Hayters Turkey employs 70, including 5 extended family members. Joanne’s brother Tom earned an animal poultry science degree from Guelph. One son heads the marketing division in Toronto. Joanne told us that they do ship to western Canada, but currently have no interest in the US market. And, they attend farmer’s markets seasonally in North Bay, Sudbury and Sault St. Marie.
A quota system for raising turkeys came into effect in 1970. However, the Hayters Farm was a significant size at that time so that percentage of their quota doesn’t cost. In Canada, farmers can’t grow more than 50 birds without a quota.
The processing plant at the Hayter Farm is provincially regulated. Regular Inspections are deemed “necessary” as this family feels it is vital to promoting the message that their products are safe and healthy options. Joanne feels they do have a voice but it’s difficult to advocate for change and to keep ahead of the ever-evolving health requirements while operating this size of business.
Joanne’s favourite product is the marinated fillets, and she wants everyone to know how healthy turkey is with just 2% fat in the breast.
HOW TO COOK FULL 15lb. TURKEY
Breast up – 450 degrees for 1/2 hour uncovered; then 2 – 2.5 hours at 350 covered.
Check the website for virtual tours of their farm – coming soon!
37467 Dashwood Rd, R.R. 2, Dashwood
Ontario N0M 1N0