I'm confused about when to process


12 Years
Feb 22, 2007
Belleville, WI
I have BBW turkeys. I originally planned on processing them at about 22 weeks, as I thought that's what I read for optimal weight. Now I am reading posts that are confusing the heck out of me. I've read that heritage breeds take twice as long, but then see a timeline for those of 22-24 weeks, which would make the timeline for BBW only 12 weeks. Then I read someone's post that said they don't go by age but by feel...

I don't really want to keep feeding the turkeys any longer than I need to, but I want to get them onto corn for the three weeks or so before processing. They're 16 weeks now, what should I do?
This question limited to either BB or heritage is relatively simple. How big do you want your bird. If a BB is 16 weeks and aproaching target size/weight by all means change the feed to get the bird ready for slaughter in a couple of weeks.

The discussion gets muddy with heritage birds because they grow slower and have wide variation from one persons birds to the next even with the same variety turkey and similar feeding practices.
What should one do to change the feed before slaughter and why is this done exactly? Sorry if I hijacked your thread.... but I saw it mentioned and wondered
Grab hold of the tom and see what he feels like both weight and meat/fat on his breast....Then like LR says adjust his feed to hit the date you want to eat him. Some birds are built to weigh/finish lighter/heavier than others...You have to feel them to get the idea of the perfect size/weight fpr your particular bird.
That's what I do is go by the feel, check the legs and feel how filled out the breast is. The reason for the change in feed is to add fat to the animal, lean meat cooks drier and isn't as tender. Add some fat to it and it's more moist.

Steve in NC
LOL My kids always laugh at me because I'm always chasing the turkeys around trying to squeeze their drummies
I kinda figured that had something to do with the feed change....but wasn't sure.... we've only ever processed 'extra' roos
Didn't worry about much other than just getting it done.
That does help clear things up some. I'll kind of miss these guys, but I'm also tired of putting them into the coop one by one EVERY night. They just never got the hang of it and I fear for their safety if they stay out. I'll have to do things a little differently for next year's turkeys. I think I'll always raise a few from now on, they sure have been entertaining.
Oh, I know..... even though they are eating me out of house and home
I'll miss my turkeys when they're not there. Told hubby we wouldn't get more, but I doubt I will be able to resist next spring!
I will however set it up so they cannot get into the chicken feed as they bowl the chickens over to get the most food. I'll probably get a heritage breed and force them to freerange more than stand at the feeder

I worried too when mine first started sleeping outside...... but when they started roosting on the roof of the coop... there was nothing to be done about it as I couldn't reach them
Sometimes a Guinea or two will hop up there with them on nice nights. I've seen those giant type perches they build for turkeys..... I will definitely consider building one if I get more turkeys.... and just fence it in so they can have that open air roost like they like... but I can worry less about neighbor dogs and foxes.
I've got 6 BR's but am only going to process 2. Can they all have corn then switch back to feed? I don't want to have to seperate them right now, mainly because I don't know which I'm going to keep yet.
I don't really know, but I'm thinking if corn adds fat, that can't be bad to help them through the winter cold. By the way, I don't think it's good to feed them straight corn only cause it doesn't provide enough other vitamins etc -- My guess is that you just up the corn ration within their regular feed.

I put mine on a different diet last fall and I didn't notice any difference, so this year, i'm free-ranging them plus giving them the same feed I always do.
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