by Michael Hejmej
Only three farms raise turkeys on Long Island.
Miloski's Poultry Farm on Route 25 in Calverton is one of them.
Mark Miloski along with his son Mark Jr., manage the 25-acre farm, caring for 4,000 turkeys each year, each one from birth. As they prepare to take over the 68-year-old family business, consistent quality is their greatest concern, adding strong flavor to the finished product, which many if not all families have sitting atop their thanksgiving center plate: the turkey.
Moistness is what the consumer is after. And no turkey is more moist than a free range, happy, healthy turkey.
"All of our turkeys are free range," said Miloski. "We keep them outside as much as possible."
Most grocery store-bought turkeys are kept indoors, said Miloski. They are prone to disease and tend to live more miserable lives.
"They go to the bathroom in the building and that ammonia odor ends up hurting them," he said. "Being indoors turns the turkeys gray. Outside, they're pure white, their natural color."
The outdoors does present the risk of a predator attack or inclement weather conditions but those can be avoided with constant monitoring.
"We'll take them inside when we have to, if there is a storm on the way or something," said Miloski. "We're always checking the weather."
Miloski's turkeys are fed certified organic feed consisting of wheat, soy and corn while growing to adequate size. Every two weeks, newborns are introduced and then kept separately until the 25 acres are filled with turkeys. They begin to get slaughtered, all on the premises, eight days before Thanksgiving, making a variety of different sizes because of the regular new additions.
"We sell about 3,000 to 3,500 turkeys every Thanksgiving," said Miloski. "And it's all first come first serve. We don't take any orders because we just don't know the size of the turkey until the end of the season."
The turkeys usually range from 12 to 35 pounds and are sold at $4.55 per pound.
Miloski's also sells other meats that they bring in from all over the country. Traditional meats like duck and chicken are raised locally whereas some of the exotic meats such as alligator, camel and ostrich are clearly brought from elsewhere.
The farm is open every day except Tuesday; hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Michael Hejmej