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What age to butcher turkeys

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

I'm interested in getting a few turkeys sometime in the future and was wondering at what is a general age for butchering.  I know it probably differs depending on the breed and the size you want, but I'm thinking of a holiday turkey somewhere around 20-25 lbs.  thanks.

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post #2 of 32

A heritage variety you are looking at 6 months at least. We like ours about 8 months. A Broad Breasted type will be ready in 4 to 5 months. A BB type won't have the taste of a heritage bird but will still be better than store bought. Do you want your turkey 20 pounds dress out weight?

Steve

post #3 of 32

Did you want to raise Heritage turkeys or Broad Breasted turkeys?

Broad breasted white hens are marketed between 14 and 16 weeks of age. At this age hens will typically weigh from 14.7 to 17.5 pounds. Toms are often marketed between 17 and 20 weeks of age and will weigh from 26.4 to 32.3 pounds.

Heritage turkeys take longer to get any breast meat and fat. They can be butchered at 6 months old but they might not be the size you want or developed into a meaty juicy turkey. I like the older turkeys, over a year for best flavor. If I have extra toms, I might butcher them at 9 months.

post #4 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tunastopper 

Did you want to raise Heritage turkeys or Broad Breasted turkeys?

Broad breasted white hens are marketed between 14 and 16 weeks of age. At this age hens will typically weigh from 14.7 to 17.5 pounds. Toms are often marketed between 17 and 20 weeks of age and will weigh from 26.4 to 32.3 pounds.

Heritage turkeys take longer to get any breast meat and fat. They can be butchered at 6 months old but they might not be the size you want or developed into a meaty juicy turkey. I like the older turkeys, over a year for best flavor. If I have extra toms, I might butcher them at 9 months.


Do you have pics of any of your turkeys to show?

Steve

post #5 of 32

I like to use my fall turkeys for eating the next year. My spring turkeys are my breeders or I sell them.

post #6 of 32

Lets say I wanted to raise a couple for holiday dinners next year...when should I get the poults? Does the meat get tough on the older heritage breeds if I wait to butcher them?

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post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by RabbitMage 

Lets say I wanted to raise a couple for holiday dinners next year...when should I get the poults? Does the meat get tough on the older heritage breeds if I wait to butcher them?


What's your primary priority?  Taste or Price?

If it's taste, order a heritage breed for early February delivery.

If it's price, order a broad breasted breed for early July delivery.

Correct Steve?

post #8 of 32

In my limited experience, even the heritage birds require different amounts of time to fill out.  The standard bronzes seem to fill out faster than the bourbon reds, which are a little faster than the narragansetts, which are a little faster than the royal palms.  At least with the lines I have, I think I could butcher the standard bronzes at 25 weeks, while 30 weeks would be better for the Narragansetts or Palms. 

Ordering heritage poults for mid April will get you about 30 weeks before T-day.  Broad-breasted for early August will get you 15 weeks.

Chickens were fun...until I got turkeys!
Narragansetts, Golden Narragnasetts, Royal Palms, Calico, Standard Bronze, Red Bronze, (and a few BB Bronze..but don't tell anyone!)
Mixed flock of laying hens
Mixed-stock pigs

Two-many horses

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Chickens were fun...until I got turkeys!
Narragansetts, Golden Narragnasetts, Royal Palms, Calico, Standard Bronze, Red Bronze, (and a few BB Bronze..but don't tell anyone!)
Mixed flock of laying hens
Mixed-stock pigs

Two-many horses

Reply
post #9 of 32

So have I been wasting money on feed by getting my turkeys in early June and killing them right before Thanksgiving?  I have BBW and I read in the description from the hatchery that they reach butchering weight at 20-24 weeks.  If I can feed them for two months less than I am now, that would save me a lot of money.  I want them to be big, but at what age do I start to see diminishing returns?  If they're going to be at 25 pounds in 15 weeks, I don't need to keep feeding them for another 10.  I might keep a tom or two to have the HUGE turkeys, but I really only need one of those a year to impress my family.

post #10 of 32

Most people mistake with BB turkeys is waiting to long to butcher them. If you notice even the stores do not have any large turkeys like they use to have when I was a kid. It is not cost efficient to grow them that big and then they make no profit. June seems to be the latest that you can buy BB turkeys. Just buy shrink bags and freeze them when they are the size you want. The shrink bags keep the turkey a long time in the freezer. If your heart is set on fresh turkey for Thanksgiving, then breed your own turkeys to get them the time of year you want them.

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