A long-time Thanksgiving tradition continued this morning at the governor’s mansion in Des Moines. Radio Iowa’s Dar Danielson reports: Pardon report :61

Governor Branstad and granddaughter Bridget inspect pardoned turkeys.

Governor Terry Branstad issued his 17th turkey pardon on the rear steps of Terrace Hill. The lucky birds this year came from a farm in Ellsworth.

 “It’s a great tradition,” Branstad said. He says the Turkey Federation and the grocery industry have each made $1,000 contributions to help feed the needy on this Thanksgiving.

The pardoned birds will be sent to Living History Farms in Urbandale. This pardon ceremony was different from the others Branstad presided over in his first stint as governor as his granddaughters were on hand along. Watching them reminded him of his son.

Branstad says he remembers when his son Marcus chased turkeys all around the back yard “and the turkey kind of wobbled when it walked and so did Marcus.” Now the daughters of his oldest son Eric try to play with the turkey. Two-year-old granddaughter Bridget petted a bird and tried to say “gobble, gobble.”

Governor Branstad with son Eric and granddaughters Alexis, Bridget, and turkeys Mildred and Marty.

The big white birds sat still as Bridget tried to gem them to move around. Iowa Turkey Federation representative, Cal Halstead, said the 30-degree weather probably made them a little sluggish as they’re used to the climate-controlled building where they normally live.

Halstead says the birds are 16 to 17 weeks old with the male or tom weighing about 38-pounds and the hen about 20 pounds.

The two are among the nearly 11-million turkeys raised in the state every year. Unlike Marty and Mildred who’re retiring, most of those birds will end up in lunchmeat used by sub shops.