iowa turkey farm trees

Concerned to Confident: A Turkey Farmer’s Story

Concerned to Confident: A Turkey Farmer’s Story 

Henry County, located in rural southeast Iowa, has an economy largely powered by agriculture. Just over twenty percent of the jobs in the county are related to agriculture, and over half of those are in the livestock industry.

The area is well-known for its turkey production. Ben Leichty is one of the area’s turkey farmers. In 2008, Leichty joined his uncle Kevin on the 3rd generation family farm and put up two of his own turkey barns.

The site is located on the top of a small ridge and had nothing blocking the wind. When he learned about the Green Farmstead Partner program at an Iowa Turkey Federation area meeting, his interest in planting trees was piqued. 

While the idea of planting trees to improve the aesthetics of the farm and serve as a windbreak and natural snow fence interested him, Leichty had concerns. Namely, he didn’t want to attract birds that could potentially carry diseases to the site, nor he did want trees that would require a lot of long-term maintenance. Other concerns included making sure trucks could get in and out of the site easily and avoiding impacts on surrounding farm ground.Leichty for Fresh Pickings

After researching and reading studies about poultry farms in other states that have successfully planted trees and learning about the suggested separation distances from the barns, he decided if a tree planting was done properly, his worries could be laid to rest. At that point, he decided to move forward.

In the spring of 2011, over 120 Techny Arborvitae and Black Hills Spruce wereplanted on the north and west sides of the turkey barns to serve as a windbreak. The site is located on a county highway, so Leichty decided to include ornamental trees by the driveway for extra visual appeal. Egli Landscapes, headquartered out of Waylandand located only a few miles from Leichty’s farm, designed the plan and planted the trees. The trees were purchased from Kelly Tree Farm of Clarence. Both Egli Landscapes and Kelly Tree Farm are involved in the Green Farmstead Partner program and have extensive experience in windbreaks and landscaping.Ben Leichty with turkey barns, trees (2)

“I’m glad I put them (the trees) in when I did and didn’t wait,” Leichty said, reflecting on the last four growing seasons. He added that if he were to start over from scratch, he would do many things exactly the same – he is especially happy with the decision to mulch the entire row (instead of just around each tree) because it made mowing simple.

The only thing he says he might do differently is to add an irrigation system. The first two summers after the trees were planted were exceptionally dry, so Leichty watered the trees by hand on a weekly basis. By the third growing season, he felt comfortable lessening the frequency of watering.

The attention to detail – from quality trees, to exceptional installation, to maintenance – has paid off. Of the 120 trees planted, only one has died. Another tree had bagworms briefly, but after removing them from the tree and a cold winter that killed the bagworms, they have not caused any more issues.Leichty turkey barn with trees (1)

After only four years, the trees are starting to accomplish what Leichty set out to do. “Several people have said the trees and farm look nice,” he said, adding that the trees are starting to drop snow and serve as an effective windbreak. He added that despite his initial concerns, he hasn’t seen an increasein rodents or birds due to the presence of the trees.

He says the advantage of using the GFP program was “being able to get information on trees, make sure they would work with a livestock building, and ensure they would be a wise investment. (The program) connected me with other people who knew about trees.”

Leichty encourages other farmers considering a tree planting on a livestock or poultry farm to “make sure you follow the recommended set-back distances and work with someone knowledgeable about trees so you do it right the first time and don’t take away from your investment in the future.”

To learn more about the Green Farmstead Partner program, or to get started on a tree planting for your farm, visit or call 800-932-2436.Leichty - NW corner, looking at trees on north side (2)

(Thanks to the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers for the article and photos.)

Crock Pot BBQ Turkey Sandwiches

Slow Cooker BBQ Turkey Sandwiches

These slow cooker BBQ turkey sandwiches are easy and delicious.  Great for get-togethers or potlucks, cooking turkey in the crock pot makes it tender and delicious.


Crock Pot BBQ Turkey Sandwiches


Slow Cooker BBQ Turkey Sandwiches
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  1. 2 pounds turkey (thighs and/or tenderloins)
  2. 1/3 cup white vinegar
  3. 1/3 cup ketchup
  4. 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  5. 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  6. 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. ½ lemon, quartered
  9. 4 burger buns, split horizontally and toasted
  1. Wash your hands.
  2. In a slow cooker, combine vinegar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, hot sauce, salt and lemon quarters. Fold in turkey. Cover and cook on High for 4 to 5 hours or on Low for 8 to 9 hours.
  3. Remove lemon quarters. Remove turkey from the bones if needed. Shred the turkey into smaller pieces.
  4. To serve, spoon hot barbecue mixture over bottom half of toasted burger buns. Top with other half.
  5. Serves 4
Iowa Turkey Federation

Crock Pot Cordon Bleu Turkey Recipe

This turkey recipe will quickly become a favorite!  Slow-simmered turkey breast cutlets are wrapped with turkey ham and cheese and cooked in the slow cooker.  

This low carb dish has 40 grams of protein and only 322 calories per serving!


Crock Pot Cordon Bleu Turkey



Crock Pot Cordon Bleu Turkey
Slow-simmered turkey breast cutlets wrapped with turkey ham and cheese.
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  1. 8 (4 ounce) turkey breast cutlets
  2. 8 thin slices turkey deli ham
  3. 8 thin slices Swiss cheese
  4. 2 tablespoons butter
  5. 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  6. 3 tablespoons sherry
  7. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  1. 1. Lightly flatten turkey cutlets between plastic wrap by tapping with the bottom of a skillet.
  2. 2. Place one slice of ham and one slice of cheese on top of each cutlet. Roll up and secure with a toothpick. Wash hands.
  3. 3. In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Brown turkey roll-ups in butter.
  4. 4. Place roll-ups in slow cooker. In medium bowl stir together cream of mushroom soup, sherry and black pepper. Pour over roll-ups in slow cooker.
  5. 5. Cook on low in slow cooker for 4 to 5 hours.
  1. 1 serving: Calories 322, Protein 40 g, Fat 14.4 g (saturated 7.8 g), Cholesterol 117.1 mg, Sodium 583.3 mg, Carbohydrate 4.9 g, Fiber 0 g
Iowa Turkey Federation

12 Turkey Recipes from “Hot Eats and Cool Reads”

12 turkey recipes
From time to time, we come across great food bloggers who cook with our favorite protein – turkey!  Sheena, from Hot Eats and Cool Reads, blogs from Minnesota, which happens to be the top turkey producing state in the US.  (Iowa ranks 9th for number of turkeys raised and 5th for the amount of turkey processed.)
Sheena specializes in recipes that are homemade, easy and affordable.  She loves using turkey because it’s versatile and easy on the budget.  “I also love using turkey to make recipes healthier, when we want something lighter on the menu!”
Here are a dozen turkey recipes from Sheena – one for every month of the year! Click on the recipe title or picture to see the recipe at Hot Eats and Cool Reads.
Slow Cooker smoked turkey red beans and rice
Slow Cooker Smoked Turkey Red Beans and Rice: Pure comfort food made in the slow cooker! Great smokey flavor and so hearty!
Turkey Burger Hobo Packs: Great for camping, or at home! The burger and veggies are so delicious and perfectly cooked!
Farmhouse BBQ Muffins: 30 minute meal the whole family will love! Full of BBQ goodness!
Bacon, Turkey and Broccoli Grilled Cheese: This is the ultimate grilled cheese! Tons of flavor and perfect served with a bowl of soup!
Cream Cheese Turkey and Vegetable Soup Recipe Cream Cheese Turkey and Vegetable Soup: Cream cheese goodness mixed with turkey and veggies! Perfect for a cold winter day! 


Turkey and Cranberry Thanksgiving Quesadillas

Turkey and Cranberry Thanksgiving Quesadillas: Fast and easy recipe that’s perfect for using Thanksgiving leftovers! Sweet and savory with cheesy goodness!
222382_421968577875413_274363288_n DSC_0023a DSC_0004a DSC_0001a Grilled Tomato and Basil Turkey Burger

Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey: This recipe is pure soul food! Great addition to any Sunday dinner!
The Ultimate McMuffin: The best breakfast sandwich ever! You won’t find this at any fast food restaurant!
Turkey, Barley and Vegetable Soup: Light, hearty and full of flavor! Great for meals any day of the week!

Linguine with Ground Turkey Meatballs and Marinara: Flavorful turkey meatballs served with pasta and marinara! The whole family will love this recipe!

Grilled Basil and Tomato Turkey Burgers: These burgers scream summer time! Full of basil and garlic, bursting with flavor!
turkey burger lemon dill sauceTurkey Burgers with Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce: Healthy and delicious burger topped off with a delicious lemony yogurt sauce! Great for weeknights!

Orzo & Kale Turkey Soup Recipe


This is a really hearty soup and a great way to use up Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. My five year old gobbled it up and asked for ‘more please’.


 Orzo and Kale turkey soup (4)

Orzo and Kale Turkey Soup
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  1. 2 Tbsp olive oil
  2. 2 celery stalks, chopped
  3. 2 carrots, sliced thin
  4. 1 onion, chopped
  5. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 1 bunch kale, cut off stems, chopped fine
  7. 2 qt. homemade turkey stock or store bought
  8. 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  9. 1 tsp Italian herb seasoning
  10. 1/2 tsp pepper
  11. 1 tsp salt
  12. 2 cups Orzo pasta, uncooked
  13. 2-3 cups chopped cooked turkey
  1. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute the carrots, celery, onions, garlic and kale. Stirring often, cook 15 minutes.
  2. Add turkey stock, tomatoes, seasonings.
  3. Bring to a boil and add uncooked orzo. Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Add turkey and stir to combine.
  4. Serve with a salad and/or homemade applesauce and your favorite bread.
  5. The soup becomes very thick on the second day, but thins out when heated up or you could add some more stock to thin it even more.
Iowa Turkey Federation

Balsamic Turkey and Peppers

Turkey tenderloins are a tender strip of white meat under a turkey’s breast.  This part of the turkey is my favorite, as it is tender and delicious and low in calories.  If you can’t find turkey tenderloins, turkey breast, cut into cutlets, will also work well for this delicious and healthy recipe. ~Katie

Balsamic Turkey and Peppers


Balsamic Turkey and Peppers
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  1. 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  2. 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  3. 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  4. 4 (4 ounce) turkey breast cutlets OR turkey tenderloins sliced
  5. Olive oil
  6. 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  7. 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  8. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  9. 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  10. 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  1. 1. Wash hands.
  2. 2. In a shallow dish combine flour, salt and pepper. Coat turkey with flour mixture, shaking off excess.
  3. 3. In a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook the turkey for 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Transfer the cutlets to a platter and keep warm.
  4. 4. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet along with the peppers and garlic. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir occasionally until peppers are crisp-tender.
  5. 5. Add the basil and vinegar to the skillet along with the turkey cutlets. Raise the heat to medium and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  1. Makes 4 servings.
  2. 1 serving: calories 202, protein 28 G, fat 5 G (saturated 1 G), cholesterol 75 mg, sodium 442 mg, carbohydrate 8 G, fiber 1 G
Iowa Turkey Federation
Try these other recipes using turkey tenderloins:

Grilled Citrus Turkey Tenderloin

Iowa State Fair Turkey Tenderloin

Lemon Garlic Turkey Rotini

Fajitas Fast and Easy

My family loves fajitas, and I love this fast and easy recipe that uses my favorite lean protein – turkey! ~Katie

(Use turkey tenderloins or turkey breast and cut into strips for this recipe.)

Fajitas Fast and Easy

Fajitas Fast and Easy
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  1. Fajitas Fast and Easy
  2. Vegetable oil
  3. 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
  4. 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
  5. 1 yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
  6. 1 small onion, sliced thinly
  7. 1 pound sliced turkey strips
  8. 1 package dry Italian salad dressing mix
  9. Water as needed
Serve with
  1. Tortillas
  2. Salsa
  3. Sour Cream
  4. Shredded Cheddar cheese
  5. Lettuce
Sauté and remove from the pan
  1. Vegetable oil
  2. 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
  3. 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
  4. 1 yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
  5. 1 small onion, sliced thinly
To the warm pan add
  1. Vegetable oil
  2. 1 pound sliced turkey strips
  3. 1 package dry Italian salad dressing mix
  4. Water as needed
Serve with
  1. Tortillas
  2. Salsa
  3. Sour Cream
  4. Shredded Cheddar cheese
  5. Lettuce
Iowa Turkey Federation


Other quick and easy turkey recipes:

Thai Turkey Roll Up

Simple Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

Turkey Sausage Zucchini Boats

Easy Orange Turkey in the Crock Pot

Spaghetti Squash & Turkey with Thai Peanut Sauce

You don’t have to eat out to enjoy good Thai!  And you don’t have to ruin your diet, either!

This recipe is a unique spin on Thai food – turkey and spaghetti squash ramps up the nutrition without sacrificing flavor.


Spaghetti Squash with Thai Peanut Sauce

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey and Thai Peanut Sauce
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  1. 4 cups cooked spaghetti squash (about 1/2 a large squash)
  2. 1 (13.5 oz.) can light unsweetened coconut milk
  3. 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  4. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  5. 1 - 2 tablespoons Surichi (hot chili) sauce
  6. 2 teaspoons Sesame oil
  7. 1 teaspoon dry curry seasoning
  8. pinch of ground ginger
  9. pinch of ground cinnamon
  10. pinch of ground black pepper
  11. a few drops of honey to taste
  12. 1 cup chopped or shredded cooked turkey breast
  13. 1 cup finely chopped green cabbage
  14. 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  15. 1/2 cup salted peanuts
  16. 2 handful of chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Prepare Spaghetti Squash
  2. Bake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with the rack in the middle. Put whole squash in a baking dish and bake until you can easily insert a paring knife, about 40 minutes to one hour. Remove squash from oven and let cool about 10 minutes.
  3. Microwave: Pierce your squash about 6 times with a fork or knife (so the steam can release as it cooks) Microwave about 15 minutes, rotating every 5 minutes. Cook until you can easily cut into the squash.
  4. Cut it in half from tip to tip (long ways) and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Scrape the sides of the squash with a fork until you have removed all the stringy spaghetti.
  5. Sauce
  6. Whisk together coconut milk, peanut butter, spices and honey in a large skillet. Combine with cooked squash. Toss with green onion and chopped peanuts.
  1. This is delicious served hot, chilled or at room temperature.
  2. If desired garnish with cilantro, peanuts, green onion and coconut flake.
Iowa Turkey Federation

Check out these other healthy turkey meals:

Hawaiian Turkey Stir Fry

Turkey Wild Rice Salad

Florentine Turkey Meatballs


broccoli rice carrot casserole with turkey

Broccoli Rice Casserole with Turkey

 Casseroles = comfort food, and this broccoli rice casserole with turkey won’t disappoint.  

Cheesy and warm, it is good for the soul.  And the addition of veggies and turkey give it a boost of nutrition that’s good for your body, too.


broccoli rice carrot casserole with turkey


Broccoli Rice Casserole with Turkey
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  1. 2 cups chicken broth
  2. 1 cup long grain brown rice
  3. 1 bag (16 ounce) frozen California mix vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots
  4. 2 cups cooked turkey, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  5. 2 ½ teaspoons flour
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  8. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  9. 1 cup milk, divided (I used skim)
  10. 1/3 cup light sour cream
  11. 8oz shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large pot then add rice. Cover then turn heat down to medium-low. When rice is almost tender (about 5 minutes left to cook) add frozen vegetables on top to steam.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder with 1/2 cup milk. Pour mixture into skillet then add remaining ½ cup milk. Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, 7-10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat then add 3/4 of the shredded cheese and sour cream, and stir until smooth.
  3. Preheat broiler. Combine cooked rice and vegetable mixture with cheese sauce then scoop mixture into a nonstick sprayed baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Broil until cheese is melted then let casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  1. Serves 4
Iowa Turkey Federation

 More broccoli and turkey recipes:

Turkey Broccoli Brunch Bake

Smoked Turkey Primavera

Broccoli Chedder Turkey Egg Bowl


Smoked Turkey Primavera

 This smoked turkey primavera is a great way to get your veggies!  With 6 cups of your favorite winter vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and mushrooms and a delicious sauce, this dish is good for you (and your tastebuds!)

Smoked Turkey Primavera (2)


Smoked Turkey Primavera
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  1. Smoked Turkey Primavera
  2. 6 Cups fresh winter vegetables, i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms
  3. 2 Tablespoons margarine
  4. 1/2 Cup reduced-sodium chicken bouillon
  5. 1/2 Cup skim milk
  6. 1/2 Cup plus 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  7. 10 Ounces spaghetti or linguini, cooked
  8. 1 Pound SMOKED TURKEY, (white or dark) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  9. freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Cut broccoli and cauliflower into florets. Slice carrots and stemmed mushrooms into medium
  2. slices.
  3. In large skillet, over medium-high heat, saute vegetables in margarine until crisp-tender. Add
  4. bouillon and milk. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbly. Fold in 1/2 cup cheese, cooked pasta
  5. and turkey. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture is heated throughout.
  6. Serve on large platter, topped with remaining cheese and pepper to taste.
Iowa Turkey Federation