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How much fat should be on a turkey?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by ShadyHoller, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. ShadyHoller

    ShadyHoller Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 12, 2010
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    We slaughtered 3 turkeys this weekend, and it all went according to plan. We now have three very presentable carcasses dry-aging.

    I was really surprised at how much fat was in the birds. They are BRs that we got in the end of April, so I think that makes them 7 months old. They were obese! I mean, the proportions were correct, and they didn't resemble broad-breasted birds, but they had as much fat in them as any meat chicken I have ever seen. The gizzard and liver were cloaked in a huge gob of fat, and the fat around the belly is now hanging in big greasy curtains around the cut I made for processing.

    Is this normal? I don't see how we could roast it without first cutting some of that fat off, or it will be swimming in a sea of grease, and the stuffing will be goop. (Delicious, I'm sure, but surprisingly fatty).

    Our feeding program was pretty conventional. We fed them on medicated starter for the first month, then started on normal all purpose flock raiser (depending on brand it was between 16 and 18 % protein.) The birds got occasional scoop of cracked corn, and a fair amount of weeds and scraps from the garden, but that was it. We didn't fatten them up with any dog food or sunflower seeds or anything else really rich.

    Any thoughts? Are they always this way?

    As always, thanks for your input.
     
  2. MovieFanz

    MovieFanz Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 14, 2010
    Corn makes fat.
     
  3. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    From a culinary perspective, I'd say to remove as much loose excess fat as possible, cook it on a rack so it doesn't swim in its own grease, drain the pan juices frequently and use a fat separator cup to de-grease it, and cook the stuffing separately in another pan.

    From a turkey raising perspective, were these birds cages or could they get a fair amount of exercise. If confined to a small enclosure, I'd think they would be more likely to be fatty than birds that can roam, fly, etc.
     
  4. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    How much room did they have to move around? We just processed 2 yesterday and they didn't have an excess amount of fat. Most feed is corn based.

    Steve
     
  5. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just my 2 cents, but I've noticed that people differ in what they call "fatty". Whereas some look at fat and think, "looks great", others see and think any tiny bit of fat is disgusting and too much. I've seen this happen with pizza parties and beef steaks many times!!

    Not saying your bird isn't loaded with fat... [​IMG]
     
  6. ShadyHoller

    ShadyHoller Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the replies. I'm thinking it had to be more lifestyle than diet that caused all the fat, because the diet was pretty conventional, as far as I can tell. When I say I gave them an occasional handful of cracked corn, that's what I mean: occasional. Probably worked out to an average of about 1/8th cup of scratch grains per bird per day. I'd have a hard time believing that alone got them so fat.

    However, it's still kind of a mystery to me. They are housed in a coop with a fenced-in outside yard, but they weren't confined to the point of not being able to move around. In fact, they have more room than some of the turkeys I've seen in pictures here. They don't fly because I've clipped one wing, but, other than that, they seem pretty active.

    Anyway, I'm sure it will work out fine. A little extra fat before the cold weather probably won't hurt the birds we are going to keep, and we might try making a confit with the fat I trim off of these carcass. Anyone ever made a confit with turkey fat?
     
  7. MovieFanz

    MovieFanz Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 14, 2010
    Most heritage turkeys are to lean. I would leave all the fat on if it is only in the skin. Many recipes have you loosen and put lots of additional fat under the skin. Thinks like butter or bacon fat. If you cook a turkey on a rack or on top of a natural rack (celery, apples for example) it is not going to sit in its own fat. Use a gravy skimmer to separate the fat from the turkey broth. Use the fat to brown your flour to make a roux for pan gravy.

    I am deboning my turkeys for easy slicing later. I use twine to wrapping them in fat like a big roast.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2010
  8. boxermom

    boxermom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We noticed out birds had more fat on them too this year. We just thought it was because they were "home" bred and raised. Our first birds last year were from the hatchery. I feed conventional feed too, but mine have acres to free range on also enjoyed table scraps with the chickens. I didn't feed corn this summer as there were plenty of bugs etc for them to eat. We had a very muggy and buggy summer. Things grew very well. I'm thinking the turks just followed suit. [​IMG]
     
  9. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OK, having said what I said earlier, I now have to change my comments. Because on Thanksgiving, we roasted an 18.5 lb. Bourbon Red tom turkey (pastured) and it also had a huge slab of fat on it. Unfortunately, I didn't see which part it came from but it must have been the back or belly because it was a thick slab of fat, very surprising. In my case, I fed it to the barn cats who enjoyed it thoroughly (they've got to stay warm in the barn this winter!) so it wouldn't get wasted.

    The turkey tom we had butchered was fed on pasture, with a mixture of corn, oats and roasted soybeans. I also did feed them a fair amount of black oil sunflower seeds this year. I wonder if that added more fat??? Anyways, I'm curious what others found... Any clues as to the fat slab?
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2010
  10. ShadyHoller

    ShadyHoller Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Willamette Valley
    One thing was for sure: we had a self-basting bird! There was fat dribbling out everywhere. There was a big slab under the neck - in front of the breast, and another big slab at the opening to the body cavity. I cut out and rendered some of it to make extra gravy (which was awesome) and the rest of it got trimmed off after cooking.

    I'm thinking that my birds weren't active enough. They have plenty of room in their yard, but the only exercise they ever get is the occasional fight between the toms. The rest of the time, they strut and peck in the mud around their toes. Or maybe it's a combination of that lazy lifestyle and too rich of food, But, like I said before, all we gave them was all-purpose 16 or 17% flock raiser, garden scraps, and the occasional handful of corn.

    At the end of the day, it might remain a mystery. But there's no denying they were delicious! Far superior to dry, tasteless bird from the grocery store. But I guess we all knew that already.
     

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