fattening heritage turkeys?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by chickenannie, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've got 2 months to go before Thanksgiving, and my Bourbon Reds are getting pretty big, but a few from the last hatch are on the small side (they are 3 to 4 months old) and I'm wondering if there's anyway to focus on fattening heritage birds during the next 2 months?

    Mine free-range out on pasture, and they eat a good ration of corn/oats/roasted soybeans plus probiotics and minerals. I also feed them black oil sunflower seeds a few times a month. I'm going to start feeding 19% protein.

    Anything else I can do to get heavier, meatier birds in two months, taking into account that these are not the Broad-Breasted commercial varieties?

    (No offense meant here, but please only answer this if you're familiar with heritage turkeys, as "regular" turkey practices are not always relevant.)

    By the way, I'm assuming the toms have the capacity to get to 15 lbs and the females about 8 lbs -- I read that on here somewhere for Bourbon Reds.

    Thanks so much for any advice!
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2008
  2. dangerouschicken

    dangerouschicken Will Barter For Coffee

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    You are feeding them well now. I would up the corn a little just for flavor [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2008
  3. corancher

    corancher Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sound like you are doing the right kind of feed program, however time is against you. Most heritage turkeys need about nine months to fatten out. We just processed some toms and they dressed out at 15 to 18 lbs. The bourbons were some of the larger ones. I am not sure if there are anyway for you to quicken the growing and filling out. Maybe someone else will know.
     
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Best of luck, like dual purpose chickens, its hard to "fatten" up birds so to say that weren't really programed to get fat and put on weight. The corn would add a bit of fat to the meat though for a juicier roasted turkey. Not too much corn though since you want to make sure they have enough protein to build that muscle.
     
  5. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:OK, I have a question about them filling out at 9 months... I thought after 6 months a heritage turkey would be "tough" like a chicken etc. Or could I butcher my 1-year-olds and get a good Thanksgiving Turkey since they are the largest anyways?

    Also, how much does pasture affect their fattening? They seem to eat a ton of grass and green stuff. I've always been happy about that foraging, but suddenly am feeling under the gun for them to put on the weight and wondering if I should be giving them additional green grass.

    Also, any opinion about the black oil sunflower seeds? I don't really understand how birds can eat the shell and all, but they seem to. Does the sunflower seed provide the same thing that extra corn would?

    Thanks everyone, your feedback was great!
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2008
  6. hinkjc

    hinkjc Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't think you should free range something that's going to the table. (mind you, putting them on pasture is different than free range) Doesn't it make them tough and make it more challenging to put meat on them as they are constantly burning off what they consume? I agree with the others that heritage turkeys, like chickens, are not structured to "get fat" quickly.

    Jody
     
  7. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Bourbon Reds are natural foragers -- I can't imagine them NOT foraging, I think they'd be miserable. They're "grazers" and "nibblers" eating a bit here and there and constantly moving. I'm interested to hear an answer to your question, though. Heritage birds are different from the more sendentary fat white broad-breasteds that just want to sit and occassionally walk around. If my hens are put in pens, they pace all day long and cry constantly -- they hate being contained.
     
  8. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    does anyone know?
     
  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    About how they eat the shell and all? The rocks in their crops grind it all up and it get's nice and digested. As for equilvancy to corn, not sure about it but I think it's better with what is in it, but more expensive.
     
  10. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    With heritage turkeys, is a 5 month old bird as tender as a 12 or 14 month old bird? Anyone know? (see prior posts)...
     

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