President Obama to pardon turkeys from Iowa this Thanksgiving holiday

The Domino family from Early, Iowa sends off their two turkeys chosen for a presidential pardon on Friday, November 18, 2016. (Courtesy: Gretta Irwin, Iowa Turkey Federation)
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EARLY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - Every year, the President of the United States will pardon two turkeys for Thanksgiving, giving them new life instead of ending up on the dinner table. This year, the pardoned poultry come from Iowa.

Chris and Nicole Domino raised the birds on their family farm in Early. That's in Sac County in western Iowa. Chris is a 4th generation farmer.

The Domino's and their children spent the last four months raising them. The work includes getting the turkeys used to be around people and placing them on a podium. That way they're calm while in front of President Obama. They also fed them by hand and played radios in the barn to get them used to noise.

On Friday morning, the Iowa Turkey Federation hosted a send off for the turkeys from the Domino's farm. Congressman Steve King even stopped by to send them off.

President Obama is scheduled to pardon the birds on Wednesday, November 22nd. That's where they'll announce the names of the birds, which are chosen from a pool of suggestions from the public.

From there, the turkeys will go to their new home called "Gobblers Rest." It's at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

This is the sixth time the National Turkey Federation chose birds from Iowa. They're chosen for their physical appearance as well as their temperament.

The National Turkey Federation has provided turkeys for the presidential pardon for nearly the last seven decades. Other presidents to pardon birds from Iowa include Johnson, Ford, Reagan and Bush.

Here are some fun facts about raising turkeys in Iowa. There are more than 130 turkey farms across the state which raise more than 11 million turkeys each year. Iowa is the 8th largest turkey producing state, and comes in 5th for turkey processing. That makes for a $1.5 billion industry annually.


The Domino family from Early, Iowa sends off their two turkeys chosen for a presidential pardon on Friday, November 18, 2016. (Courtesy: Gretta Irwin, Iowa Turkey Federation)