Feeding and eating

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by longranger, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. longranger

    longranger Songster

    554
    1
    149
    Apr 23, 2009
    laguna hills CA
    Tender subject here.LOL. Never having raised heritage turkeys for the table before is there a specific diet reccomended during the final weeks for a table bird. Also is keeping them in a pen as opposed to free ranging useful in getting a tender juicy bird with a little fat on him/her.

    My LOL on this post is half crying because I am not entirely sure that I will be able to eat these guys with how attached I feel. On the other hand what will I do with 15 or 20 adult Turks that will start breeding next spring? Good fun problems to have I guess.
     
  2. starforever61

    starforever61 Songster

    363
    1
    121
    Aug 1, 2009
    They do enjoy free ranging and the running should give them a little more muscle than in the run only. Btw, I know how you feel and that's why I became vegetarian, and I'll have been vegetarian for 7 years this thanksgiving. It is really hard when you start, but it gets easier. I don't recommend it for people that raise meat for a living tho...try not to get too attached to them...don't name them! Well, I hope you can get oer that and I hope you have fun on this forum! [​IMG] See ya later! [​IMG]
     
  3. What are you feeding now? And are you getting it from a feed mill or is it bagged feed? Most "finisher" type feeds just have a higher fat content than growers

    Steve in NC
     
  4. longranger

    longranger Songster

    554
    1
    149
    Apr 23, 2009
    laguna hills CA
    I am feeding bagged turkey/gamebird crumbles that are 28% protein. Am wondering if a few weeks of a lower protein high carbohydrate feed would make a better table bird than staying with the same.
     
  5. Harp Turkey Ranch

    Harp Turkey Ranch Songster

    831
    5
    141
    Dec 18, 2008
    McCleary, WA
    I feed a free choice 27% feed and they free range 24-7 all the way to the last 3 weeks. I then start them on a 75-25 regular feed with 25 being cracked corn for 1 week then 50-50 for 1 week and then on to 80-20 20 being regular feed, this helps them get a nice fat layer for the average person cooking them. You can skip all of that and just feed them right up to the last day on the the 27% with no corn and they will be leaner and in most cases need to be brined for the average cook, unless they know how to cook a lean bird or else it will come out dry and tough as an old boot if cooked like a butterball.

    I would not pen them up just start feeding them the corn and they will get that nice fat layer you seek !!
     
  6. longranger

    longranger Songster

    554
    1
    149
    Apr 23, 2009
    laguna hills CA
    Great information, thanks. Nice timetable too so that I could remember to start November 1st with the diet change. No shoe leather birds for me. The only ones that may be left on the "lean" diet are one or two to be smoked. Breeders will transition to a laying mix I think.
     
  7. Quote:Let us know how that works out.

    Steve in NC
     
  8. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    3,152
    30
    231
    Nov 19, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    Corn adds fat, but the birds also seem to put on weight when cold fall weather hits (Oct/Nov) at least that is what happened to mine last year. They ate a TON of food when they got big. I was buying 200 lbs a week to feed them all!

    How old are they/what breed are they? That makes a difference too.

    As for the butchering issue, it IS hard, but once it becomes freezing cold outside and I had to do turkey chores in the snow and slush and nasty weather twice a day, I became MUCH more agreeable to butchering them for Thanksgiving. Also think about what a nice life you've given them, outside of an overcrowded, factory-farm type situation. Mine play and fly and wander freely around the barnyard and green pastures and trees all day long. They are VERY happy turkeys.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2009
  9. Harp Turkey Ranch

    Harp Turkey Ranch Songster

    831
    5
    141
    Dec 18, 2008
    McCleary, WA
    Corn adds fat, but the birds also seem to put on weight when cold fall weather hits (Oct/Nov) at least that is what happened to mine last year. They ate a TON of food when they got big. I was buying 200 lbs a week to feed them all!

    As they get older they start to fill out in the last month or so is when they consume the most feed and put on the most weight.

    Yes a growing turkey will eat a pound a day easy, probably would eat about as much as you would give them. Last year with 100 of them we went thru 10,000 lbs of feed in 6-7 months time.

    Corn does produce that nice layer of fat that is needed for the taste and moisture while cooking. I prefer them a little leaner then the average consumer, but I also like to cook slow and low. If they are to cook them like normal they will need the fat layer or alot of basting and brining before hand to be moist and tender​
     
  10. longranger

    longranger Songster

    554
    1
    149
    Apr 23, 2009
    laguna hills CA
    That works out to about a 100 pounds for each bird. Definitely not the most economical turkeys but that was already a given.

    I will have about a dozen birds for the table for me, family and friends. Will fatten up all the birds to be gifted. Will try brine, smoking and different cooking methods on a couple of lean ones. All things being equal leaner would be great. Will never develope the skill to cook a lean bird well without some experimentation--just not for Thanksgiving--LOL.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: