Editor’s note: This story was originally published in November 2016
As you drive down Route 25 this time of year, it’s hard to miss the field of white at Will Miloski’s Poultry Farm in Calverton.
The third-generation family farm is celebrating its 70th year in business this Thanksgiving season, when it will once again raise and sell more than 3,000 turkeys. Started in 1946 by Mr. Miloski and his mother, Molly, the farm raised turkeys, chickens, geese and ducks at a time when Long Island was noted for its poultry. Mr. Miloski died in 2012 at age 88.
Today the business model remains pretty much the same, though turkeys are the primary focus for Miloski’s, a go-to spot for fresh farm-raised birds each Thanksgiving.
“Our business is definitely unique,” said Mark Miloski Jr., who runs the farm with his dad, Will’s son.
Mark Sr. said he takes pride in the fact that his customers always know where their Thanksgiving feast comes from — only a couple thousand feet from where he lives. He said the family wouldn’t sell anything they wouldn’t eat themselves.
“That’s why I can’t retire,” he joked. “I would go hungry.”
The Miloskis will raise about 3,500 turkeys this fall, with about 3,000 expected to sell before the Thanksgiving holiday. While they typically slaughter only three turkeys a week the rest of the year, that number jumps to 500 per day beginning Nov. 15.
“Whatever we don’t sell we save for Christmas time,” Mark Jr. said.
The 28-year-old farmer said he’s been working on the farm since he was about 14. Though he attended York College and earned a business degree, he always knew he was going to continue with the family business.
“It’s not even work,” he said. “It’s more my home.”
The farm stretches across 30 acres, which feature five pens where turkeys and chickens stay when they’re not roaming the property, as well as two houses where the Miloskis live. It is still named for Will and the family never plans to change that.
One thing that has changed over seven generations, however, are the products Miloski’s sells. In 1990, the business expanded its offerings beyond poultry to include exotic meats like alligator, snake, camel and elk, to name a few. Mark Sr. said the options were added to “give people something new to try.”
Mostly though, they see repeat customers seeking a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving. The birds, which are almost always outside, receive natural food and hormones are never used.
“You can really taste the difference,” Mark Jr. said.
The younger Mr. Miloski attributes the success of the business to his grandfather, who was hands-on at the farm until he retired at age 84. His foresight has enabled the family to keep things pretty much the same over the years.
“We don’t want to fix what’s not broken,” he said. “It’s just good to keep on grandpa’s legacy.”