Ground turkey?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by mayble, Mar 3, 2015.

  1. mayble

    mayble In the Brooder

    Jan 12, 2015
    I see a lot of folks talking about raising turkeys for holiday dinners and such, but does anyone eat ground turkey in place of (or in addition to) ground beef?
    I'm wondering about the practicality of raising turkeys as a major meat source (along with chickens, of course) for a small homestead. One can only eat so many roasted turkeys, after all, and it seems ground turkey is a popular item at the grocery store.
    Is ground turkey generally made from the whole bird? Or is it more often made from what's left after splitting off the breast? Do poultry processors even offer the option? For those who raise birds for market, do you have buyers for "everyday turkey", beyond the holiday dinner crowd?
    Tell me, turkey people. Is raising turkeys a viable alternative to raising beef for a small farm family?
  2. WalnutHill

    WalnutHill Crowing

    Mar 16, 2014
    SE Michigan
    Turkeys won't replace chicken as a farm staple, but they are a good substitute for beef or pork and total gestational + growing to harvest time is significantly less than either beef or pork.

    I like turkey sausage, turkey breast, cubed cooked turkey in pot pies/pasties, in casseroles and chili, MONSTER grilled wings, smoked drumsticks, and turkey thighs all on their own (luscious!) I don't grind it, but instead cube it because there is not much fat to hold it together once ground. And you can make excellent stock from what's left over.

    I can never have too much roast turkey. I vacuum pack and freeze in dinner size portions and have a couple of "Thanksgiving repeats" in late winter and early spring when they are welcome and I am not harvesting at the time.

    Heritage turkeys need 26 weeks of growing before they are ready for the table. Broad breasted, closer to 16 weeks and much greater yield. But I like the heritage better in every respect to the point where I do not plan to raise ANY broad breasted birds for market. And, of course, the heritage are easy to breed, raise, and house.
    2 people like this.
  3. celestialdreamer

    celestialdreamer In the Brooder

    Jun 22, 2011
    We've raised heritage turkeys for 4 years now and despite mostly downsizing our hobby farm recently, turkeys were the one area that we opted not to do that. I find that heritage turkeys despite being a larger bird than a chicken, will actually eat LESS feed if given the opportunity to forage in a large enough area. Heritage turkeys are also excellent mothers (at least the ones we've had) and can easily raise a clutch of a dozen poults no problem. When we downsized and got rid of most of our dairy goats, we opted to turn one of the pastures and small barns into an area for our trio of heritage turkeys to live and a raise a sustainable flock for us to fill our freezer.

    Typically I just raise them for cooking like a simple roast chicken dinner, except they are typically triple the size. Since we have a family of 8 this works out wonderfully to a nice ample roasted dinner, plus leftover meat to make another turkey dish (pot pie, etc) and then I use the last of the meat and carcass to make a huge pot of soup that is another 2+ full meals. I have growing boys that are big eaters and typically I've gotten 4-6 meals out of one of our heritage turkeys depending on what I make. I have taken and ground up the meat from most of one bird to make burger meat (along with a bit of fat from the edge of the cavity so it isn't too dry) and saved just enough meat on the carcass for a big pot of soup.

    If you have a big family a trio of heritage turkeys with PLENTY of space to roam (this the key to not spending a fortune on feed, because without enough space to forage they will eat TONS) could supply your poultry for the year depending on how often you eat it. You can grind some if you want, but I find it is most economical to use it in a traditional manner instead.
  4. amynrichie

    amynrichie Songster

    Jan 29, 2013
    Nebraska Panhandle
    Another option is to bone out the meat and pressure can it. Then cook down the bones for stock and can that too. It saves on freezer space and is a cinch to grab a mason jar of turkey for a casserole, soup, etc. That's what we are doing with our chicken this year. We are so busy, and utilize the chicken much more readily that way. It saves a ton of time prepping the meat. I will save a couple turkeys for roasting, and a few chickens for fryers, but the rest will be canned.

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