Ohio Farmer

Cooper Farms expands in Ohio

The company is building 39 new turkey barns this year.

Jennifer Kiel, Editor, Michigan Farmer and Ohio Farmer

June 28, 2023

3 Min Read
Eight-week-old turkeys at Ohio-based Cooper Farms
TURKEY EXPANSION: Turkeys will be housed in the new barns from the age of 5.5 weeks to market (about 21 weeks). These turkeys are about 8 weeks old. Courtesy of Cooper Farms

When demand calls for more product, Ohio-based Cooper Farms answers the call. It is in the process of adding 39 new barns in its turkey division, generating an additional 500,000 birds annually.

Construction of the 39 turkey barns will be completed by January, the company says, allowing for expansion of its processing and cooked meats divisions.

The family-owned business started in Paulding County, Ohio. Its tagline is, "Fresh from the heartland," which speaks to the company's geographic location and gives a nod to the importance of agriculture in the state, says Cassie Jo Arend, spokesperson for Cooper Farms. 

“The resources and infrastructure available in Ohio make it the perfect place for a supplier to grow and continue to provide products for customers across the nation,” she says.

Taking over from his mother, Virgil Cooper started Cooper Farms in 1938 with 300 turkeys in Oakwood, Ohio. Today, the fourth-generation company has about 2,400 team members, plus 375 family farmers who help raise turkeys, hogs and chickens for the company, which marks its 85th year in 2023.

The barns are each 20,000 square feet and will house birds from 5.5 weeks to market (about 21 weeks). 

With a huge expansion like this, the company says it is important to recruit the right people to join the team. “We were concerned that it would be hard to recruit growers with the high interest rates right now,” says Bill Staugler, live turkey production manager for Cooper Farms. “We were pleasantly surprised by the responses we received from current growers and prospective ones.”

Seven existing family growers have chosen to grow their farms with the expansion in the turkey division, while seven new families are joining the team.

“It makes us feel good that a lot of our current growers want to expand,” Staugler says. “It tells us they enjoy what they do and want to continue growing with us. We are excited to continue working with our family growers and look forward to working alongside the families joining our team.”

To become a Cooper Farms grower, prospects are interviewed to ensure growers are the right fit for the job, while understanding the requirements of raising livestock.

“This includes visiting an existing farm to get a feel for what they would be getting into and to walk them through the process of managing a turkey barn, biosecurity measures and protocols that are involved,” Arend explains.

For biosecurity reasons, Cooper growers cannot be involved in any other poultry, including a backyard flock or pets.

In addition, a grower must be able to check on the birds three or four times a day. “They need to be able to line up their work schedule so they can check on the birds in the morning, afternoon and evening,” Arend says.

Jim Cooper, Cooper Farms CEO, says, “Our company was founded on a handshake mentality, with a focus on doing the right thing all the time. It’s humbling to see the growth of Cooper Farms and all we've accomplished with the help of great partners, leaders and team members.”

About the Author(s)

Jennifer Kiel

Editor, Michigan Farmer and Ohio Farmer

While Jennifer is not a farmer and did not grow up on a farm, "I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone with more appreciation for the people who grow our food and fiber, live the lifestyles and practice the morals that bind many farm families," she says.

Before taking over as editor of Michigan Farmer in 2003, she served three years as the manager of communications and development for the American Farmland Trust Central Great Lakes Regional Office in Michigan and as director of communications with Michigan Agri-Business Association. Previously, she was the communications manager at Michigan Farm Bureau's state headquarters. She also lists 10 years of experience at six different daily and weekly Michigan newspapers on her impressive resume.

Jennifer lives in St. Johns with her two daughters, Elizabeth, 19, and Emily 16.

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