ATLANTA — Fruechte Turkey Farms of Decatur, Ind., was one of five farms across the United States to receive the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association’s Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award during the 2023 International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Ga. USPOULTRY sponsors the annual awards in recognition of exemplary environmental stewardship by family farmers engaged in poultry and egg production.
Applicants were rated in several categories, including manure management, nutrient management planning, community involvement, wildlife enhancement techniques, innovative nutrient management techniques, and participation in education and outreach programs. Applications were reviewed and farm visits conducted by a team of environmental professionals from universities, regulatory agencies and state poultry associations.
Craig and Mindy Fruechte raise 24,000 turkeys per flock for Cooper Farms. When siting and building the turkey houses, Craig and Mindy were mindful to ensure stormwater runoff around the houses did not negatively impact field tile systems already in place to prevent flooding and soil erosion. Additionally, Craig and Mindy worked with a representative of the Soil and Water District to have a patch of woods near the location selected for the turkey houses evaluated. This evaluation revealed the existence of a wetland that the Fruechtes protected from being disturbed.
Shortly after building their turkey houses, Craig worked to maximize the potential of his nutrient management plan. Working with their crop advisor, the Fruechtes implemented a comprehensive sampling program encompassing their soil and litter. They became keenly aware of the importance of performing soil tests and using those tests to track nutrient concentration levels in the ground as well as sampling the litter from every flock. After compiling two years of litter generation data, Craig and Mindy designed and built a litter storage barn that can store up to one year of the farm’s litter. To be mindful of his neighbors and prevent it from migrating off the fields, Craig incorporates litter into the ground within four hours of applying it to his fields. The Fruechte family also designed and built a five-bay covered composting building able to accommodate the mortality from several flocks.
Mikell Fries, president of Claxton Poultry Farms and vice chairman for the USPOULTRY Board of Directors, presented the award to Craig and Mindy Fruechte.