The first generation of Oegemas immigrated to Canada from Holland in 1957. They purchased a farm in Talbotville and decided to get into the turkey business. At the time turkey wasn’t part of a regular Canadian diet and the Oegemas were eager to embrace something new. The business is now in its 55th year of operation and third generation Oegema brothers Mike and Wayne continue the farming tradition by combining years of experience with education in business and agriculture.
Oegema Turkey Farm raises approximately 55,000 turkeys each year spread out over 6 different flocks. The Oegemas’ commitment to raising the best birds possible requires them to spend many hours in the barns caring for their flocks. The chicks start out in the Brooder Barn – a very controlled environment where they are kept warm and receive the attention they need. After six weeks they are moved to the Grow-Out Barns. These barns are large with lots of room for the turkeys to move around. The sides of the barns are open to let in light and fresh air and the turkeys have access to feeding and watering stations to use at their leisure. When the turkeys reach six to nine weeks old they are sent to the processor. Many of theses turkeys are sold to private companies who give the birds to their employees for Christmas and to catering companies and restaurants.
In 1992, the Oegemas opened a store on-site that allows them to sell a variety of products directly to the customer. Originally there was one employee and the Turkey Shoppe was open three days a week. Over the years the business and product line has grown and the store is now open six days a week. Five employees now work in the Turkey Shoppe making and selling turkey products to consumers in ways that they cannot find in the grocery store. These employees are friendly, knowledgeable and always willing to share cooking advice and delicious turkey recipes.
“We’ve really tried to promote turkey as an everyday alternative,” said Annie Oegema, manager of the Turkey Shoppe. “We want people to know they don’t have to cook the whole bird every time to enjoy turkey.”
Customers can purchase whole turkeys, turkey parts, smoked products and other turkey products including: pies, kabobs, medalions, meatloaf, meatballs, schnitzel and shepherd’s pie. All product recipes have been tested to perfection and everything is delicately seasoned. The Turkey Shoppe also sells a variety of products that go well with turkey meals including sparkling juices, stuffing, cranberry sauces, chutneys and spices. In addition to the products they sell in-store, select products can be purchased online at www.turkeyshoppe.com for several weeks before Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
The Oegemas believe that their Elgin County location is ideally situated for doing business with customers from both London and St. Thomas. They are centrally located near major transportation routes and areas that have a large population base. Additionally, the Oegemas products are so good that they have customers who come from as far as Windsor and Toronto to stock up on their high quality products.