Heritage breeds for meat

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by 95yj, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. 95yj

    95yj Chillin' With My Peeps

    702
    3
    131
    Nov 25, 2009
    Central Vermont
    I don't want to start anothger annoying newbie "how do i" post, but this is pretty much this is, sorry. I want to raise a small batch of turkeys (maybe 5 at most) for my family and neighbors, i was planning on using spanish blacks or royal palms, but i'll get them through Mcmurray so they aren't exactly perfect specimens of the breed. But before i make the offer to our neighbors i want to get a very rough cost estimate. I've been raising meat chickens for awhile and have alot of experience with handling, caring for, and processing most birds, so i'm not concerned about the actual management of the turkeys. They will be on grass from eight weeks till whenever i slaughter? If they have 100% access to good quality forage how much will they eat? Also how long does it usually take them to get up to weight, i've read 16 wks but also 28, i'd probably want roughly 15 lb. live birds, i think, is that a good medium weight? Thanks, and sorry...
     
  2. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    You are looking at 6 months for a heritage turkey. A broad breasted type takes about 4 months. The Broad breasted are the cornish cross of the turkey world. When we raised them for meat we kept them confined and on a high protien feed the whole time. The Royal Palms have a great taste but they have a Y shaped shallow breast bone so they have less breast meat than other varieties.

    Steve
     
  3. 95yj

    95yj Chillin' With My Peeps

    702
    3
    131
    Nov 25, 2009
    Central Vermont
    If i wanted a smaller bird could i just butcher earlier? Also hows there food consumption and conversion, can i figure someplace around 2 lbs per day per bird of pelleted feed if they have access to pature or am i way off the mark.
     
  4. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:Yes you can do that with a Broad breasted type, a heritage needs the extra time to fill out and I think the flavor gets better with age. I think the feed conversion for heritage birds is about 5 pounds of feed for each pound live weight. There are alot of factors that figure into that, how much range they have, what is there for them to eat etc etc etc.

    Steve
     
  5. 95yj

    95yj Chillin' With My Peeps

    702
    3
    131
    Nov 25, 2009
    Central Vermont
    One of the reasons that i was going with a heritage breed is that they're going to be in a field in front of my neighborhood where everyone can see them, not that it really affects the final product, but i was going for pretty birds. I also just really like traditional breeds. thanks
     
  6. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    The heritage birds will get attention for sure and taste wise once they try it you will have customers forever. We don't really raise them for Thanksgiving anymore only special orders but we have one guy that comes every year for a Thanksgiving turkey. Come to find out he is a grower for Carolina Turkeys and has thousands of them under roof at his farm. The first year he came here I asked him why he didn't just use the ones he grows for Thanksgiving. His answer was "I may grow them thangs but I sure don't eat em, I want a real turkey" That was enough said for me. [​IMG]

    Steve
     
  7. HallFamilyFarm

    HallFamilyFarm PA ETL#195

    5,682
    53
    278
    Jan 25, 2010
    Collins, Arkansas
    There is some differences with the Blacks and the Royal Palms other than just color. The RP are a bit smaller and as Steve pointed out, will have less breast meat. We had a few RP this season and sold them at Shawnee. Our Thanksgiving Turkey was delicious, but almost not enough. The Blacks out weigh the RP by about 10#. If you are wanting something to show off to the neighbors, RPs are beautiful. But then so are all the Heritage breeds. If you are buying from McMurray, you have so many of the old Heritage varieties to choose from. Do lots of research and choose the variety that you like.
     
  8. 95yj

    95yj Chillin' With My Peeps

    702
    3
    131
    Nov 25, 2009
    Central Vermont
    thanks everyone, i was planning on going with the blacks, and if i can figure out how to get 4 or 5 of them i'm definitely gonna do it
     
  9. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    I am a newbie to the turkey world but the experiences I have had so far lead me to prefer the BS over the RP hands down., especially for eye candy in the field, but also for friendliness and carcass quality. I am sure many feel the exact opposit but with one year under my belt almost exaclty like yours, and moving on to breeders now, those are my thoughts.
     
  10. slc

    slc Chillin' With My Peeps

    200
    1
    121
    Sep 10, 2008
    Upper Michigan
    If you are considering heritage turkeys for meat then the Beltsville White is a good fit. Unlike other heritage breeds these were developed specifically for meat production in the 1950's. The breed still has the meat qualities if you get them from a good breeder that culls to preserves the original production qualities. I've tested a hatch from two breeders, the poults were like little BBW. Wide and stocky little poults, very hardy. They are breeding age now much wider in the breast than any heritage types I've seen. I got them because we want a non-hybrid turkey we could keep and breed for our own turkey meat supply. They are pure white though.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by