Pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys to become Hokies

Tater and Tot, the turkeys pardoned in 2016 (WSET)

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WSET) - The National Thanksgiving Day Turkey will become a Hokie.

Virginia Tech says the 2017 turkey and the alternate will live out their days at Gobbler's Rest.

“The relationship between the National Turkey Federation and Virginia Tech’s Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences helps showcase the modern turkey industry while maintaining a connection to the past, which is appropriate with this year’s 70th observance of the White House presentation,” said National Turkey Federation President Joel Brandenberger.

The National Thanksgiving Day Turkeys of 2016, Tater and Tot, are also enjoy life in Blacksburg.

The National Turkey Federation’s 2017 chairman, Carl Wittenburg, and his wife, Sharlene, are raising the “presidential flock” with the involvement of five members of the Douglas County, Minnesota, 4-H Science of Ag Team, who helped care for the turkeys and researched the best litter type for bedding.

After two birds are chosen based on appearance and temperament, they head to Washington, D.C., where they stay at a hotel near the White House as part of a series of media events leading up to the presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey.

“Tater and Tot are very excited to get some new neighbors,” said Rami Dalloul, a poultry immunologist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who was at the White House last year to receive the birds. The research and outreach Dalloul and other faculty have done has made a substantial impact on the poultry industry and is one of the reasons the birds are coming to Virginia Tech.

Public visiting hours will be announced, but in the meantime, you can follow the hashtag #presidentialturkey2017.

Your can enter your name suggestions for the turkeys online here.

The pardoning tradition started in 1947 with President Truman.

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