fb-pixel Skip to main content

Family owners of Lancaster farm devastated by loss of 7,000 baby turkeys

A barn fire at Bob’s Turkey Farm in Lancaster killed about 7,000 baby turkeys Thursday night.Bob’s Turkey Farm

About 7,000 baby turkeys died in a barn fire in Lancaster on Thursday night, devastating family owners of the local farm who said “it’s a personal loss and a business loss.”

“Those were all of our Thanksgiving turkeys,” said 25-year-old Jennifer Miner, daughter of owner Susan Miner, 58, and niece of owner Richard Van Hoof, 62, for Bob’s Turkey Farm on Old Common Road.

No people were harmed in the fire at the breeding farm, said Jennifer Mieth, a spokeswoman for the state fire marshal.

Bob’s Turkey Farm is a family owned and operated business that Jennifer Miner’s grandfather, 89-year-old Robert Van Hoof, began in 1954 with just 125 turkeys. The farm’s website stated that the family was raising approximately 10,000 turkeys on their home farm in Lancaster before the fire.


According to Jennifer Miner, the fire started in one of the larger barns at about 6 p.m. before anyone in the family’s home saw it. She said the family called 911 after people driving on a nearby street alerted them that one of their barns was on fire.

Firefighters arrived at about 6:15 p.m., according to Miner, who said, “by the time they got here, the building was pretty much gone.”

She noted that the barn housed “very young, very small” chicks that required “heat and companionship in order to thrive.”

The barn that burned was one of the farm’s original structures built by Robert Van Hoof in 1957, she said.

According to Miner, a lot of people were reaching out to the family Thursday night with “mostly support and love.”

She said the family does not know the cause of the blaze, but the family is facing “a long process of rebuilding. ... We’re going to need the community.

“... How can you not have something from 1954 and not put a lot of care into it?” she asked.


Miner added that small family farms that span three generations are a rarity and “we’re just lucky that we are where we are,” alluding to a neighbor that rushed over to help with electric cords and wires in hand.

According to the farm’s website, the family breeds, raises, and slaughters all of their own turkeys in Lancaster. They also provide Thanksgiving birds for many residents.

All of the family’s turkeys are fed a well-balanced grain diet and are “grown in barns and outdoor pens, free to move around as they wish,” according to the website.

In a posting on Facebook just before 9 p.m., Bob’s Turkey Farm said, “We spend day in and day out feeding, watering, nurturing and growing these animals and to say we are jolted by the loss of so many lives is not enough.”

An investigator from fire marshal’s office was at the scene Thursday night, and the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, Mieth said.

Lancaster police and fire were not immediately available for comment.

Reports from Bob’s Turkey Farm on Facebook:

Lauren Fox can be reached at lauren.fox@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurenbfox.