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Huntsinger's Bouquet Canyon turkey ranch in the early 1960s.
The name Huntsinger has been synonymous with turkeys, especially in the Santa Clarita Valley. The Huntsingers — Fred and Mable Huntsinger and their three sons, Curtis, Sheldon and Peter — went into the poultry business in the San Fernando Valley in 1934 and added a second ranch in Bouquet Canyon in 1951. In 1958 they closed the SFV facility and concentrated their activities at their 120-acre SCV ranch, located at 29164 Bouquet Canyon Road (east of Bouquet, south of Vasquez Canyon Road).
In the 1950s and early '60s they were raising 200,000 turkeys annually from egg to maturity. A special, all-natural protein diet of corn, barley, wheat and soybean meal brought the birds to a marketable size: 11-15 pounds for the hens and 20-30 pounds for the toms. Some were free-range, others held in confinement. They were processed in an on-site plant and brought to market, about 80 percent of them at Thanksgiving and Christmastime.
In 1964, the Huntsingers closed the Bouquet ranch and moved the operation to Acton. They planned to develop the Bouquet Canyon property; in 1965 the county Regional Planning Commission OK'd a subdivision into 595 single-family lots, but for whatever reason the housing development did not come to pass. Eventually the Acton property also became too valuable for turkey ranching, so in 1978 the Huntsingers moved the ranch to the San Joaquin Valley where, in the 1990s, they were reportedly bringing 125,000 turkeys to market each year. The corporate headquarters remained in Newhall.
The Huntsingers were known for their community involvement. Curtis Huntsinger served on the Saugus Elementary and William S. Hart High school boards, while Peter Huntsinger was a founding member of the Santa Clarita Community College District board. Elected in 1967, Peter's stature in the community as a business leader lent credibility among voters to COC's initial construction bond measure. A member of Rotary, he served as president of the Acton Chamber of Commerce in the 1970s.
As of 2019, third-generation Huntsingers continue to raise turkeys in the San Joaquin Valley, and their home office address is still Santa Clarita.
Sources: Valley Times, 11-20-1958; The Signal, 2-4-1965, 11-22-1978, 11-21-1990, 11-19-1996; HuntsingerRanch.com.
OX6101: 9600 dpi jpeg from color transparency courtesy of Joan Oxman.