Cooper Farms celebrates history, emphasizes animal care

By Matt Reese

In 1938, Cooper Farms started with 300 turkeys in Oakwood, Ohio when Virgil Cooper took over the farm after his mother’s passing. By 1948, a hatchery had been built where the Cooper Farms Corporate Office now resides. Over 85 years, Cooper Farms has evolved into a diversified, vertically integrated turkey, hog and egg company that has stood the test of time in an ever-changing industry. 

Cooper Farms prides itself on forming lasting customer relationships and producing high quality meat and egg products for private label retail and foodservice companies.  

“Our company was founded on a handshake mentality, with a focus on doing the right thing all the time,” said Jim Cooper, CEO. “It’s humbling to see the growth of Cooper Farms and all that we’ve accomplished, with the help of great partners, leaders and team members. I am pleased to see these next generations, both Cooper family and team members, stepping up to leadership roles and seeing us through these next phases of growth.” 

Along with good people and a commitment to serving customers and the community, Cooper Farms has built success around animal care, which starts with a good diet.

“Cooper farms is a diverse company with turkey, hogs and layers, but their business started out with turkeys and that is still the No. 1 business today. Cooper Farms will process about 7 million tom turkeys a year,” said Don Davidson, DVM, with Cooper Farms. “Diet is probably one of the most important things that we can do for the performance of our livestock and poultry, so we work closely with our nutritionist formulating correct diets for different stages of life. Diets also represent the majority of our costs — over 60% — so we spent a lot of time on our diets.”

For turkeys, the formulations change from hatch through processing.

“You start with diets that are more nutrient dense for the younger ones and more digestible,” Davidson said. “Then as they age, the diets are more formulated for the different size of the bird based on muscle development, development and structure. Typically, the diet can use different nutrients as they age too. Along with nutrients, the diet for the turkeys includes an energy source, which is typically corn or wheat. The protein source is typically soybean meal. Our No. 1 ingredient source for protein is soy meal, and we have a lot of local processing plants and plenty of availability of soybean meal in our area.”

High quality diets have always been a constant for Cooper Farms through 85 years of growth and innovation.

“Being innovative in the way we do things, always looking to improve our processes, is part of the reason our company has been successful,” said Gary Cooper. “We were founded on a can-do attitude and we will continue to have that mindset in the way we do business moving forward.” 

Beyond Cooper Farms, poultry is big business in Ohio. Ohio is tenth in in turkey production producing 305 million pounds of turkey annually and is home to over 109 million broilers. Ohio also ranks second in the nation in egg production with over 30 million egg-laying chickens producing 10 billion eggs per year. All of those birds are eating diets containing high protein soy meal. 

Livestock is the most important market for soybean producers. The Ohio Soybean Council is highlighting Ohio’s livestock industry in 2023 to showcase this vital partnership facilitating global food production.

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