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Bourbon Reds for Thanksgiving?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by jgell, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. jgell

    jgell Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 23, 2010
    Avondale
    I have been given the OK to raise some turkeys. Bourbon Reds sound like a good fit for our property and our level of commitment. My question is will we, a family that has never eaten anything that didn't come from the supermarket, enjoy a heritage breed turkey? Are they going to taste more like a wild turkey, which my neighbor says taste awful, or more like a butterball? I just don't want to be responsible for ruining thanksgiving.
     
  2. ScottnLydia

    ScottnLydia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 16, 2011
    If, as you say, you have never eaten anything that hasn't come from a supermarket, then I would (respectfully) advise you to take one of two courses.

    1. Bourbon Reds ARE wonderful turkeys and do not taste aweful if raised, fed, processed and cooked properly. They are a heritage breed so don't expect the dressed bird to look or taste like a butt-erball. They don't have the double (mutantly extra wide) breast of the Broad Breasted White that Butterball uses and they grow at a slower (read 'more normal') rate as well allowing them to develop a richer flavor. Cooking methods should be adjusted to prevent the slightly smaller breast from getting overdone and dry. We like to cook our turkeys broken down to main parts so that we can simply remove the breast when it is done and continue cooking the dark meat as long as necessary. The snag here though would be whether a Bourbon Red would be mature enough by Thanksgiving if you are just getting the poults now? Many feel that heritage birds need 8 or 9 months to get enough fat on them, but I'll let others chime in on that point.

    2. You could get Broad Breasted white or bronze birds in late May or early June. Home raised will taste ever so much better than store bought! These will have the familiar large breast lobes that you are familiar with from supermarket birds. Of the two, the Bronze are slightly smaller but they both have the genetic potential to grow to grow to unnatural, unbelievable, unhealthy size by 7 or 8 months old. I bought what was supposed to be 7 White Holland poults (another heritage breed) last summer. Too late I realized that the 2 that were supposed to be 'older' turned out to be Broad Breasted Whites! (The rest are Midget Whites which I love!) I just dispatched the tom who could barely walk and to my surprise when I hung him from a scale he weighed 61 pounds at 10 months!!! He was so huge he would never have fit into an oven so we just boned out the breast and thighs and ground them into turkey burger. The hen prolapsed 2 days later and we processed her into breast cutlets and hind quarters. She was over 40 pounds. Point is, don't let a broad breasted bird go too long! 4 or 5 months is good.

    Finally, please remember when you process your bird, to observe all the standard hygiene rules, quickly and thoroughly chill the carcass in an icey brine for several hours and let it rest or "age" in the fridge for 4 days before cooking it! The quality and tenderness are so much improved when you do!

    Whatever you choose, I think you will be better off raising your own rather than buying commercially raised. You control the feed and living conditions yourself when you raise your own and believe me you WILL taste the difference!!!

    ~S~
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. jgell

    jgell Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 23, 2010
    Avondale
    Thanks for the insight. We don't do a HUGE bird for thanksgiving, only 12-14lbs. The other problem is everywhere I have seen that ships day olds has a minimum of like 10 poults. That is way more than I need. I wouldn't mind hatching my own, I have the equipment and several years expierence with hatching ducks, but would I have a bird worth processing in Novemeber? Everybody rants and raves about midget whites, what are they like around the house? Do they free range well?
     
  4. ScottnLydia

    ScottnLydia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 16, 2011
    I love our Midget Whites! They are friendly, forage well, a good size for us (2). We only have one hen but she just hatched out eight poults of her own!

    If you don't want to go the minimum order from the hatchery route, try craigslist for live, local birds. Also many feed stores as well as Tractor Supply and Big R stores have poults this time of year. Just do some checking! Be sure to get several though in case of losses.

    Good luck
    ~S~
     
  5. AliciaM

    AliciaM Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2010
    Yelm Washington
    Ideal hatchery does small orders. They charge a small order charge, but I think its worth it.. I just bought 6 BBwhites and it cost me a tad over $40, including shipping.. I also got 7 little packing peanuts (that i rehomed immediatly since I didnt want to raise any more chicks).. Ive had excellent luck with Ideal and highly recommend them.
     
  6. Cindyearl

    Cindyearl Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 14, 2012
    I raised Royal palm Turkeys for the first time and they were good, The breast and thighs were real good, the legs and wings were not as meaty, The breast meat on the royals was white and the thighs were dark brown... if you have a big bunch I would cook more then one, and they cook a little faster then the turkeys from the store...I love my Royal Palm Turkeys... Cindy...
     
  7. emptynesterMom

    emptynesterMom Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 14, 2011
    Virginia
    I raised bourbon reds last year for the holidays. I got my birds at the end of May, and the one I had for Thanksgiving was not as meaty
    (16 pounds), but skinny. The one for Christmas was over 20 pounds and fatty. They were both yummy. I sold one to a friend, who is a dyed in the wool foodie, and he swore it was the best turkey he had ever eaten. If you have the room to raise them it is easy to sell an organic free range turkey. I hope this is helpful to you. [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. coopqueen

    coopqueen Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 29, 2012
    Underwood, WA
    We got heritage turkeys last summer, July 15th, thinking we would be eating them by thanksgiving. No did not happen. They were too young. Then we thought Christmas, still too small. By this spring we butchered a couple, the males mostly, and left 8 hens and a couple toms. Right now we are wanting to get rid of our bourbon red tom, we don't need two toms. If anyone is going to the canby swap meet I could bring him and a hen, either a narragansett, a holland white, or a black spanish. they are all sitting on the community egg piles. There are four hens in one dinky box, two in the other and three with already hatched poults.
     

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