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How long can a turkey hen be kept before butcher?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Indigosands, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. Indigosands

    Indigosands Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 5 Narragansetts. 3 Toms, 2 hens that are 7mos old. I intend to butcher 2 of the Toms this winter and leave one for breeding the 2 hens. What is the age range that a hen is considered good for eating? Would 2-3 years old be too tough? I'd rather keep turning over my stock to keep them productive and avoid bonding to them if possible.
     
  2. Celie

    Celie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Turkeys do not get tough like chickens do. Heritage turkeys will live to be 7 years or more and I have processed 3 year olds that were tender and juicy, but they reach their max weight until they reach around 18 months, and the flavor is so much better at that age rather than at half that age. At that age, unless I am going to use a tom for breeding, they are processed. I do not process any hens, unless something happens to her, like she gets bumble foot or injures herself and is in pain. Then I process her rather than let her suffer. Hens will lay for several years and a 2 year old hen lays larger eggs and produces stronger, larger poults than a first time layer. They also are heavier, so their frame can support the much heavier tom better during mating. I sell any excess hens, with a young, sexually mature tom to people who want to raise their own breeders. A hen doesn't have the amount of meat a tom does and is not any different in taste. IMHO, healthy, productive hens are too valuable to butcher for meat. I choose a younger tom about a year old to breed my hens, because they are lighter than those that are older and a lot easier on the young hens. They can injure a hen by their much heavier weight, while mating if the tom is at 18 month max weight. At 18 months, I process all toms, because they have reached max weight(meat) and flavor and you are wasting feed after that point, they are the most value for food at that point and turkey meat is good eaten year round. My hens start laying about mid December, here, and some are still laying( at least until the weather went down to 30 a couple nights ago). I sell a lot of eggs and poults as well as fill the freezer with a lot of turkey meat. I have customers for mature turkeys for the Holidays, starting in October, so pretty much sell live birds year round. The eggs, IMO, taste better than chicken eggs, but unless it is a double yolker or is cracked, it goes into the bator. Poults sell for 4 times what eggs sell for, that's why you never see turkey eggs sold for eating. Chicken eggs are much cheaper. My hens usually lay about 130 to 150 eggs a year , so you don't get an egg from every hen almost every day, like chickens, but there is a lot more meat on a turkey than a chicken and after 6 months a chicken becomes tough and stringy. We are older folk and retired, so we stay healthy and off medicines by eating healthy, non-medicated, meat, without hormones by eating the healthy meat we raise ourselves. We have chickens, ducks, turkeys and rabbits and the turkeys and rabbits, we sell, as extras, pays for the feed, so we eat very well and very healthy. If we had started with turkeys before we had chickens, we probably would not have raised chickens. We use a lot of chicken eggs and raise chickens for eggs, not meat, but have some college ball players, drive in from a state away, for chicken eggs, because when they eat store bought eggs, they test positive for steroids, they tell us!
    That is probably more than you wanted to know about turkeys. I got kind of carried away there, but I hope the information helps! [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  3. Fat Man

    Fat Man Out Of The Brooder

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    You can butcher and eat any time before the die of natural causes.
     
  4. retlaw

    retlaw Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great info thanks.

    I didn't know that a turkey remained tender at an older age.

    If you don't mind me making a comment about older age?
    My eyes are not what they were so reading your comment with out any paragraph breaks is almost impossible with out great effort to read.
    I have a very hard time keeping location.

    And I do enjoy your comments and knowledge very much.

    Help some sore old eyes out?
     
  5. Celie

    Celie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry! I to am old and that night, or should I say morning, I had insomnia and was up quite a few hours and was rambling on. I'll try to do better next time.
     
  6. Indigosands

    Indigosands Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you so much, that's EXACTLY what I needed to know! We butchered one of the boys for Thanksgiving (28 weeks old) and he dressed out at 19lbs. Any suggestions for choosing the best of the remaining 2 toms for breeding?
     
  7. retlaw

    retlaw Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If they are the same age then I use these three principals:

    1. Genitics/lineage (preventing inbreeding)
    2. Size (no runts/larger healthy animals only)
    3. Colouring/feather patterns (to breed standards or your preference)

    It all depends on your goals you set for the birds.
     

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