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Turkeys weigh in at 50-plus pounds, but not record-setting
Joel McCoy of Powell, Wyo., reaches for one of his turkeys at the Big Horn Co-Op Monday. McCoy says his turkeys, which each weigh more than 50 pounds, likely claim the Wyoming state record. RUFFIN PREVOST/Gazette staff McCoy prepares to weigh one of his turkeys.

POWELL - If unexpected guests drop by for Thanksgiving dinner, Joel McCoy won't have to worry. There should be more than enough turkey to go around. After raising a pair of turkeys each weighing more than 50 pounds, McCoy's only problem is likely to be calculating how much stuffing and cranberry sauce he'll need.

Saying his 57-pound turkey is probably the biggest in the state, McCoy is nominating himself Wyoming's presumptive King of Wings until someone else produces proof of a bigger bird.

McCoy brought his turkeys to the Big Horn Marketing Cooperative in Powell on Monday for an official weigh-in, because he thought he had a chance at breaking the world record of 86 pounds.

"I'm guessing around 90 pounds each," he said before the birds hit the scales. McCoy struggled to maneuver the large dog kennel he'd used to transport the turkeys. "They're too much bird to handle alone," he said.

It was a battle of wills as McCoy wrestled the colossal turkeys from their cage. Co-op employees Caleb Newton and John Hobbs helped corral the birds.

"If I can get somebody to hang on to this one, then I can get the other one in that cage," McCoy said.

"John, I nominate you," said Newton, backing away from a panicked turkey with a 5-foot wingspan.

After accounting for the weight of the dog pen, each bird weighed in at around 57 pounds, far less than the world record, but "still a pretty good-size bird," said McCoy. "They're a pretty good armful."

Lyndsay Griffin, information specialist with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, said the state doesn't track individual turkey records, particularly because poultry is a small business in Wyoming.

Wyoming State Fair Director Barney Cosner did not know of any turkeys larger than McCoy's, but said the fair has had a poultry show for only the last five years.

Bruce Nisley, a Northwest College agriculture instructor, had been working with McCoy to check state records and couldn't find evidence of a bigger bird.

"There certainly doesn't seem to be any permanent record" of a larger turkey, he said. "It's definitely the heaviest turkey I've ever heard of."

McCoy said he fed his 33-week-old turkeys wild bird feed bought at the Big Horn Co-op. They were not specially bred, but he tried to make sure they always had "plenty of good food and water and no stress."

With each turkey eating 50 pounds of feed weekly, McCoy isn't sure he'll keep feeding them for a run at the world record. At least not without a sponsor picking up the tab, he joked.

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One of McCoy's titanic twin turkeys won't be getting much fatter. When the birds were chicks, he agreed to sell one to friend Steve McCullough for $1 a pound.

"This is no ordinary bird," said McCullough, who was sporting a Brett Favre football jersey. "He's going to get eaten when the Green Bay Packers play in the Super Bowl."

Based on the team's record this year, however, McCullough conceded that probably meant freezing the dressed turkey, which McCoy guessed would still weigh more than 40 pounds.

With a small crowd gathered around McCoy's truck inspecting the birds, one woman across the street asked, "What's everyone looking at?"

"The biggest turkey in the state of Wyoming," someone answered.

"No," she shot back. "That would be my son."

Contact Ruffin Prevost at rprevost@billingsgazette.com or (307) 527-7250.

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