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Poultry in Motion From farm to table – preparing Thanksgiving turkeys in Switzerland

More and more turkeys are ending up on festive dinner tables in Switzerland. swissinfo.ch visits Bühlhof farm in central Switzerland, where the animals are free-range and slaughtered by hand. 

Overlooking Lake Lucerne, at the foot of Mount Rigi, is the municipality of Greppen. Bühlhofexternal link is home to Christian and Luzia Muheim, as well as their three children, 12 milk cows, three Stiefelgeiss goats, a cat and around 200 turkeys. And no partridges or pear trees in sight. 

The animals come to the family farm at six weeks old. Almost 400 turkeys are fattened and slaughtered every year – the females at 100 days, the males at 130 days. One large buyer is the catering section of the Lake Lucerne Navigation Company, but most of the family’s income is from direct sales. Turkeys weighing up to ten kilograms (22lb) can be ordered from October to December – and demand is increasing. 

Meat industry umbrella group Proviande says per capita consumption of poultry has risen over the past decade from 10kg to 12kg a year. More is being imported, but more is also being produced domestically. 

Andi Schmal, head of Switzerland’s largest turkey producer Frifag, confirms this. Over the past ten years, he says, sales of Thanksgiving or Christmas turkeys have increased more than tenfold: almost 10,000 birds are slaughtered for the two occasions.