Talking Turkey with Buck Ross

Not many businesses in the world, let alone in Wellington County, can count both Mick Jagger and the Sultan of Brunei among their clientele – but Ross Enterprises Limited can.

The farming operation, located in Mapleton Township east of Rothsay, specializes in free range turkeys with a growing list of customers in North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Bahamas that includes the Rolling Stones front man and the Sultan, one of the richest men in the world.

“You never know where a turkey will take you,” owner Buck Ross says with a smile. “Every year it gets bigger.”

While having famous customers abroad is always nice, Ross Enterprises is known locally for growing premium, free range turkey of all sizes that are available in grocery stores across Canada – including Wellington County.

And this is a very busy time for the business, which grows 16,000 to 20,000 turkeys just for Thanksgiving and Christ­mas. Add in a third flock for Easter, and Ross Enterprises annually produces over 25,000 turkeys.

“We try to produce the right product at the right size at the right price to keep people happy,” Ross said. “We take turkey production very seriously.”

His turkeys may sell for a little more money than commercially-grown birds, but he said most people are willing to spend a little more on a quality treat for their friends and family.

“We work with Mother Nature, not against her,” he said of the free range idea.

Ross, also a director with the Wellington-Waterloo Com­munity Futures Development Corporation, is a fourth generation farmer whose family has always lived in Wellington County.

He and his wife, Joyce, have three children – Claire, 24, Noah, 22, and Wyatt, 19. Claire is working towards a teaching degree, Noah keeps busy with his own pressure washing and roll-off business and Wyatt, though presently working on the farm, may pursue other endeavours. 

Yet all of them remain dedicated to being fifth generation farmers, despite the obvious obstacles the industry now presents.

“I’m not sure we’re doing them a favour by getting them into agriculture,” Ross said of the next generation. “There’s such a push to keep everyone farming, but we don’t get near the recognition we deserve.”

Ross lamented all the government legislation and standards facing Canadian farmers, while the same restrictions do not apply to foreign producers.

“We make rules to make ourselves non-competitive glo­b­ally,” Ross said of Canadian officials. “[Farmers] are legislated into such high costs and it’s very difficult to pass the business on [to our children].”

Yet despite the financial outlook of the agricultural industry, Ross clearly loves what he does, and the same can be said for Wyatt, who voiced as much during a recent visit.

In a way, Ross feels there never really was a choice, for him at least.

“Farming sort of gets in your blood. It’s like a disease,” he said.

He particularly plays close attention to the marketing side of the business, and says it is important for everyone to realize turkey is a healthy choice that should be an important part of year round diets – and not just consumed during the holidays.

With that in mind, he also offers Uncle Buck’s turkey sausages and other meat products under the name Buggy Boyz Meats, some of which is peddled from a booth at the St. Jacobs market.

And while turkeys may now be the focus of the Ross family farming operation, it wasn’t always that way. The business has evolved tremendously since Ross’ great grandfather first purchased a farm on Con­cession 14.

The family has always grown cash crops and produced eggs, and over the years has dabbled in livestock of all sorts, eventually focusing on pigs around the time Buck Ross became involved.

But when Claire was still a baby, the pig barn burned down, so Ross decided to give turkeys a try.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Yet turkeys are not the only birds visitors will see on the Ross farms. The business also includes chickens, omega-three egg production and cash crops ranging from corn to soybeans to wheat.

Ross embraces the idea of eating locally grown food and employs a local hauler, not to mention long-time partner and friend Pat Brewster, who lives on-site in one of the farm houses and has worked with the Ross family so long he is now known as Uncle Pat.

“It takes a team to make this happen,” Ross said of the farming operation, adding he also could not succeed without many loyal customers.

“I want to thank people who have given us the best advertising we can get, and that’s word of mouth.” 

Ross estimated he has sold about a million kilograms of turkey over the last 15 years, and says he looks forward to the next million-kilogram milestone.

“We hope to stay in the turkey business for a long, long time,” he said with a smile.

For more information call Ross at 519-848-2270 or email him at