Farm says its Thanksgiving business is ‘in jeopardy’ after 7,000 baby turkeys die in fire

Poults from Bob's Turkey Farm.
–Courtesy of Bob's Turkey Farm

It’s been an “extremely emotional and overwhelming” day for the family who owns Bob’s Turkey Farm in Lancaster after a barn fire left 7,000 turkeys dead Thursday night, according to Jennifer Miner, granddaughter of the farm’s namesake.

Miner and her family are picking up the pieces of their livelihood, mourning the loss of their animals, dealing with a flood of criticism on social media, and facing the financial implications of the fire on their Thanksgiving business.

“It affects us emotionally,” Miner said. “We’ve been doing this since 1954. It’s a passion; we live for what we do. So to lose that many animals is devastating and terrible and unfortunate. It was so awful to have to watch.”

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Miner said the birds killed at the Lancaster farm—poults ranging from one day to three weeks old—were bred to fill the farm’s 8,000 Thanksgiving orders that have already been sold. Miner said Bob’s Turkey Farm is one of New England’s largest turkey breeders, and that many of farms in the region buy their poults for Thanksgiving from them.

“We have some eggs in the incubators, but they were without power for a little while during the fire, so we’re not sure how those hatches are going to be, but it’s not going to be enough to save our Thanksgiving,” Miner said. “Right now, we are focusing on the immediate problems step by step.”

Bob’s Turkey Farm raises about 14,000 turkeys per year, according to Miner, and owns a sister farm that raises about another 3,000 turkeys.

Due to the fire’s chaos, she said the farm staff hasn’t been able to collect an accurate headcount of their remaining birds, which were in the fields, but she estimates the farm has a couple thousand surviving turkeys.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Lancaster Fire Department. Miner said the farm will be working throughout the day to clean through debris with the help of friends and community members, as well as monitor the stress level of their surviving birds.

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