As two white-feathered turkeys looked on from a small coop, Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday he couldn't muster too much sympathy for the fact that within a few days they'd be the main course in someone's Thanksgiving feast. 

Pointing out that Minnesota produces about 46 million birds a year -- more than any other state -- Dayton put the perspective of the two 20-pound, 16-pound hens in perspective: "Forty-five million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-eight other turkeys are headed on to the same fate," he said. 

Pardoning a turkey is a presidential tradition going back years. But it's equally a tradition for a Minnesota governor to send them on to slaughter.

"The president can pardon turkeys but governors don't have that clout," Dayton joked at his annual turkey press conference, which traditionally promotes Minnesota's nation-leading turkey industry.

John Gorton, president of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and a turkey farmer from Pelican Rapids, said 2014 was a good year for Minnesota growers. "The price of turkey is up and our input costs are down," Gorton said. 

Dayton has kept a low profile since his recent re-election victory. He said Monday that he was taking some personal time for the Thanskgiving holiday, with plans to spend the long weekend in San Francisco where one of his sons now lives.