Michigan farmers adapt to lower demand for turkeys this Thanksgiving

This holiday season, we'll be looking at much smaller gatherings, which means smaller dishes needed for Thanksgiving including turkeys. Now farmers are working to make changes to meet the demand.

Roperti's Turkey Farm on Five Mile near Farmington in Livonia have been raising gobblers and trotters since 1948.

The owner Christine Roperti says despite this ongoing pandemic, business is good.

"They started it with 50, then 100, then 500," she said. "Now we sell 4,400 in four days."

But many folks are canceling Thanksgiving this year choosing to go virtual, having food exchanges - or much smaller gatherings. But Roperti says her customers are loyal.

"I have the best customers. They always come back," she said.

There have been more new customers this year and thousands of turkeys have already been claimed.

"They are fed corn, they're not pumped with anything and then they are killed for you the day before you pick up your order," she said.

Over a four-day period  Roperti, with the help of her son and a crew of 45 others, processes thousands of birds... 
"We work from six in the morning to 12, and we're done with a thousand turkeys at 12," Christine said.

These birds can get up to 30 pounds. But this year during Covid a lot of people don't even want the regular size - they want 10 to 12 pounds.

"A lot of people are just ordering 18 to 20 pounds," she said.  "Some of my customers, being that there's just two or three of them, they'll take the 18 to 20 and then I'll cut it in half for them. Then they have a half for Thanksgiving and a half for Christmas."

The price is 3.79 a pound and - Roperti is so busy she said they are likely only taking orders until Friday because they are nearly sold out.

So however you plan to spend your Thanksgiving holiday, Roperti is hoping everyone enjoys it - safely.