Flock Rotation Management of Heritage Turkey's

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by retlaw, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. retlaw

    retlaw Songster

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    Feb 2, 2013
    For meat production.

    I have to cull some of my breeding stock and introduce more.
    I am interested in what others do.
    I would like to know what others do to manage their flock along the lines of:

    1. How long the hens are kept for?

    2. How long the toms are kept for?

    3. What you look for in a new hen?

    4. What you look for in a new tom?

    5. Heritage breeds take longer to mature so at what age do hens and toms start to become
    stewing meat in stead of roasters?

    6. Do you rotate you're flock to make the most of weight/size gain?
    ( Do you keep toms or hens breeding for a season and then harvest for maximum
    meat product at 18 months while renewing their spot with new offspring? Or do you kept
    the same hens and toms until they are stewing meat?)


    Thank you all in advance for taking the time to respond.
     
  2. Haida

    Haida Chirping

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    Sep 12, 2013
    Western NY
    I think I can answer some of these! [​IMG] But I work in very small numbers and this spring was pretty rough.

    1. How long the hens are kept for?
    I would keep them as long as they are productive and healthy. My oldest hen was almost 2 before she died... stupid blackhead (she is my avatar pic).

    2. How long the toms are kept for?
    As long as possible as long as he doesn't get aggressive or unhealthy, or display a weakness to illnesses or the weather.

    3. What you look for in a new hen?
    Molting habits (ie: does she have a short molting period--winters get cold here, the faster the better), laying habits (when does she start/stop and what do her eggs look like), how tough is she (to weather/illnesses), her foraging habits and above all else, personality! I don't like a super bossy or dominant hen... she can be the leader and assert herself somewhat, but once she starts attacking everyone, I don't have the room for her.

    4. What you look for in a new tom?
    I like to know how fast he will hit mature weight or what that mature weight will be (only talking about heritage birds here, but the more info about his parents the better... I don't order from hatcheries). I watch him carefully and make sure he doesn't get aggressive with the hens and that they like him. And does he spend all of his time and energy strutting around, or does he actually DO things, like dustbathe and forage? I'd rather my tom didn't spend all of his time showing everyone how pretty he is... but that's just me.

    5. Heritage breeds take longer to mature so at what age do hens and toms start to become
    stewing meat in stead of roasters?
    The oldest turkey I have eaten was a year old hen, and we used an oven bag for her. There was no difference between her meat and a 6-month old. So tender and juicy lol. My birds are confined to a decent sized run and barn (with lots of perches and things to do) but I'm sure they would be tougher if they were allowed to free-range. So I'm not sure...

    6. Do you rotate your flock to make the most of weight/size gain?
    ( Do you keep toms or hens breeding for a season and then harvest for maximum
    meat product at 18 months while renewing their spot with new offspring? Or do you kept
    the same hens and toms until they are stewing meat?)
    I would keep my hens and toms as long as possible. I get way too attached, lol. I do keep some of their female offspring, if they show the right qualities I'm looking for. Then, come breeding season, if they have issues with eggs or whatever, I butcher them then.

    I know my methods aren't the most profitable, but... I don't do this for a profit yet... its kind of a hobby. We're planning on becoming more self-sufficient, so when that time comes, I will be doing the turkeys a little bit differently... just not sure how yet. :) What do you do?
     

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