I know this makes me crazy but I'm going to ask anyway

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by HennyJenny, Oct 21, 2010.

  1. HennyJenny

    HennyJenny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 26, 2009
    Bennington, NE
    So - I have seven broad breasted white turkeys. They eat copius amounts of feed and their live weight right now is between 25 and 30 pounds. Here's my dilemma: I like these birds. I like these birds a lot. I can't help it. They make me laugh. To compound my "issues" the other day I saw a turkey truck - it made me really sad. I knew two weeks ago that I wouldn't be able to butcher these birds myself (I got them with Cornish X which I had no problem butchering about a month or so ago) - that I was too attached to them. I made an appointment at the processor (which I'm secretly ashamed of as that was not the "deal").

    So - tonight my five year old says "Mommy, I really like those turkeys. I think we should not eat them." I said "Wy - they will eat us out of house and home and then they will die and all that will come of it is compost." And he said "So maybe we should just feed them water them and when they die - bury them".

    I know this makes me out of my mind - but I'm kind of half thinking about it. These birds are eating about 100 pounds of feed and cracked corn a week. So about $25 per week. They are approximatelyl 16 weeks old.

    If I turn them loose in my yard with the chickens (out of the hoop coop) - how long could they really live? Would letting them free-range the yard and the pasture decrease the amount of feed they are eating? Would it extend their life any? They seem to have developed a relationship with the bourbon reds - and with the chickens. And they so enjoyed last week's great escape.

    I feel silly asking this - and I'm not a "silly" or "illogical" person.

    Please talk me into - or out of one of these "plans" - dinner - or as good a life as I can give them. Be brutal if you must - I need some sage advice or maybe just a reality check.

    Thanks in advance
  2. OmaBird

    OmaBird Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 10, 2010
    CA High Desert
    My husband made pets out of two BB turkeys. One was a hen (white) and one a tom (bronze). The hen was a great mom and died protecting her poults and adopted poults. She was three years old. My tom is about 5 years old now. He is no beauty but we like him. Hardest part it slowing there growth in the first year. After that they seem fine. That means no corn and reduced feed. [​IMG]
  3. HennyJenny

    HennyJenny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 26, 2009
    Bennington, NE
    Omabird - thank you so much! I didn't count on liking these birds - I thought they would be kind of dull like the cornish x's. They are just silly white turkeys and I've got about a zillion dollars invested in them at this point - so it doesn't seem logical to me to just keep them so they can die in a few weeks. But if I can cut back on their feed and let them run the yard and pasture and extend their lifespan - I wouldn't feel so stupid about keeping them. Thank you.
  4. Lagerdogger

    Lagerdogger Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2010
    Aitkin, MN

    I will argue the other side. Of course, the choice is yours and I certainly won't feel bad if you keep the turkeys. However, you bought these turkeys for food.

    I understand about getting attached to turkeys. I am attached to mine and I worry about how I will feel on Nov 21. But I remember that if I want to eat meat, something has to die. Are you really doing turkeys any good by sparing some of yours so you can buy someone else's? Especially, are you doing you or your family any favors by sparing yours and buying a commercial turkey?

    I understand how your son feels. I grew up in the city and felt the same way as a child. I have reunited with adult friends who grew up near me and am surprised that they will not eat anything wild or grown locally. They can only eat food that comes in styrofoam. There are really people like this. While it may be a tough lesson, I would hope that slaughtering your turkeys would teach your son that food comes from real animals that were alive. We raise and care for these animals so that we can eat better food than is available in the store. What happens if you raise a pig or a cow and your son gets attached? Would you start keeping them for pets? You have invested money into raising these turkeys for food, and I would encourage you to stick with your plan.

    As I reread this, I sound cold and heartless. Sorry. I'm not as mean as I sound. Perhaps I am trying to psyche myself up for my own upcoming harvest. A compromise may be to agree to keep one or two as pets, rather than all seven. Or better yet, keep a heritage turkey for a pet. They will eat less and can fill a considerable part of their diet with foraging.

    A short post cannot communicate all of your feelings and all of your conflict, so don't kill them unless you really believe it is the best thing to do.

    Good luck with your decision.
  5. HennyJenny

    HennyJenny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 26, 2009
    Bennington, NE
    Lagerdogger - you have many valid points. I swore I would never buy another commercial turkey the other day when I saw the commercial turkey truck. That means if I want thanksgiving dinner - I must make some choices. I have two bourbon reds that I really like - somewhere on here there is a thread about how stupidly easy it is to get attached to turkeys "ridiculous" I thought. My son knows what the deal is - and I have it in me to respond appropriately - but part of me likes these birds - and feels some ambiguity about this - they just seem more "sensient" than the cornish x and I just never counted on liking "the boys". That said - my farmer father is the one that is going to pick them up and take them to the processor for me. He will be sure to point out the ridiculousness of canceling that appointment given the investment in time and feed I have in these birds. I may "rescue" one or two. I don't need seven turkeys and I only have two people interested in buying one. I may keep two - the one I think could possibly be a hen and one of the boys that is friendliest and seems to be not laying around as much as the others. That would satisfy the situation I suppose.

    Omabird said her husband made pets of "TWO" - not 7. That seems reasonable. It's still enough that "people" will think I've lost my mind - but not so many that I've lost sight of the reasons I did this in the first place.

    Thank you both again.
  6. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    HennyJenny wrote: Please talk me into - or out of one of these "plans" - dinner - or as good a life as I can give them. Be brutal if you must - I need some sage advice or maybe just a reality check.

    My wife is no shrinking violet. From the age of ten until she left home for college she was in charge of the `Spring Chickens', on her parent's farm, up to and including the `funneling and blading' (her mother took over from that point). She saw the three BBB poults `looking' at her from the middle of a scad of chicks at the Orscheln store and we returned home with 10 chooks and 3 BBB's. Two had to be put down at a month as their legs simply gave out. The third retained some ability to bear wt. (splints/tape/vitamins/etc.). He was very friendly. He improved enough to move out with the chooks and hobbled along behind them, calling when they, or we, got out of his sight. Inevitably, even on a somewhat restricted diet (trying to balance inital growth against increasing wt. exacerbating the torsional defect), there came a day (a little over four months old) he simply hunkered down in the grass and didn't call for the flock. I took him some grapes but he didn't even look at them, head down with the tip of his beak on the ground. I knew exactly what he was communicating (have since observed the stance of tom's whipped during sparring - depressed turkey) and put him down. We won't be trying to get lucky, with this variety, again. Am always heartened to see others who've been successful with a turk that was bred for doom and cranberry sauce. Our BBB's legacy is our heritage turks.

    We split a 100 meat birds with Wife's nephew every year. We pay for the feed and he keeps them at his place. After spending the day processing, the year before last, we got into a conversation about `TurkeyBird' (the BBB) and the Cornish and concluded that, had he been healthy and heavy, we'd have felt more like the walrus. And the Cornish, more like the carpenter:

    ...The Walrus and the Carpenter
    Walked on a mile or so,
    And then they rested on a rock
    Conveniently low:
    And all the little Oysters stood
    And waited in a row.

    "The time has come," the Walrus said,
    "To talk of many things:
    Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
    Of cabbages--and kings--
    And why the sea is boiling hot--
    And whether pigs have wings."

    "But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
    "Before we have our chat;
    For some of us are out of breath,
    And all of us are fat!"
    "No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
    They thanked him much for that.

    "A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
    "Is what we chiefly need:
    Pepper and vinegar besides
    Are very good indeed--
    Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
    We can begin to feed."

    "But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
    Turning a little blue.
    "After such kindness, that would be
    A dismal thing to do!"
    "The night is fine," the Walrus said.
    "Do you admire the view?

    "It was so kind of you to come!
    And you are very nice!"
    The Carpenter said nothing but
    "Cut us another slice:
    I wish you were not quite so deaf--
    I've had to ask you twice!"

    "It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
    "To play them such a trick,
    After we've brought them out so far,
    And made them trot so quick!"
    The Carpenter said nothing but
    "The butter's spread too thick!",,,

    Can't tell you what you should do, just don't waste time with regrets regardless.
    I'd probably keep the hen.

    Last edited: Oct 22, 2010
  7. chick_magnet

    chick_magnet Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 25, 2010
    this might not sound as helpful like the rest of the responses, but i have a friend with the same problem. He named his birds breakfast, lunch, and dinner and it helped alot
  8. HennyJenny

    HennyJenny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 26, 2009
    Bennington, NE
    I say this with all due respect to you and your wonderful wife....

    I love you Ivan! [​IMG] Now I'll spend the rest of my days applying Alice to poultry. And I haven't read the Walrus and the Carpenter to my boys yet. It's high time... HMMM - maybe a little Beatles wouldn't hurt them either - "I am the eggman..." [​IMG]
  9. OmaBird

    OmaBird Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 10, 2010
    CA High Desert
    I felt it is only fair to add a few things. My husband is from Huntington Beach, CA. He is a surfer boy not a farmer. What Lagerdogger said about pigs is also true for my husband. He cancled the butcher on our pigs. It wasn't until they where going through every fence we had and put on 200 more pounds that he called the butcher back.

    There was not just two turkeys he tried to make pets out of. It is every turkey, chicken, duck, goose ect. When we had 6 BB turkeys, he wanted them all. I have just as many sad stories. It is also expensive. More than a 1/4 of our income goes to feeding the animals.

    I do think he is starting to come around. He is concidering having one of our turkeys for Thankgiving. It is going to depend on if the rest of the family will eat it.
  10. ziggywiggy

    ziggywiggy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 25, 2009
    McNeal, AZ
    Funny you should mention pigs. First and last time I had pigs slaughtered I drove back to the slaughter house after dropping them off to make sure they had water. I think there would be something not quite right with a person if they didn't feel a little anxiety when they butcher animals they have raised from babies. I mean how can you not become just a little attatched to them? Maybe if you do it on a very large scale but, most of us are small operations.

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