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University of Missouri

Stop Gobbling Up the Profits

Animal science professor Jeff Firman develops a better turkey diet.

Turkey

Photo by Getty Images.

Twenty or so people control the diets of the roughly 250 million commercially produced turkeys in the $4.4 billion U.S. gobble industry. Jeff Firman has their ear — the feed experts, that is.

With so many birds in the market, competition is positively raptorial. The profit margin is just two or three cents a pound, and the No. 1 production cost is feed, says Firman, professor of animal science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

In a series of studies during the past two decades, Firman developed the Missouri Ideal Turkey Diet. It’s a perfect-protein recipe for turkey growth that could increase industry profits by giving birds just the right amount of just the right proteins to hit growth targets. Same great taste, but no food waste.

That’s cause for thanksgiving. The new diet saves about 8 percent on feed costs, Firman says. “It’s a volume business,” he says. “That’s a big break.”