Is my turkey too young/small to eat yet? Can I fatten him up in time?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by happydog, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. happydog

    happydog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 22, 2009
    Western NC
    I have Bourbon Reds that were hatched May 2. That would make them a bit over 6 months old at Thanksgiving. I wasn't planning on butchering so soon, and mine are free ranged so maybe on the small side compared to penned and fed birds.

    But my kids have decided to come home for Tday, so now I can either butcher one of ours early or pay a hideously high price for somebody else's heritage bird that was humanely raised.

    So, how undernourished and scrawny looking would a Bourbon Red actually dress out at 6 months old? Will my family burst into laughter at the sight of our pitiful, emaciated turkey laid out on the platter? Or will it look like a regular turkey, just small?

    And finally, if I go ahead and have one for Thanksgiving should I plan on "finishing" him somehow with corn or grains or something? I have a lot of extra milk since I'm milking 3 cows.

  2. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 19, 2009
    Six months should be fine. How much does he weigh now? You can figure a 60-75% dressed weight from that. All you really need to do to finish him is make sure he's got food available at all times. You've probably already been doing that though. [​IMG]
  3. Tunastopper

    Tunastopper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2010
    A heritage turkey never gets that plump round breast look that a BBW has. I would never eat a bird younger than 9 months. To me 18 months is ideal. It seems like a waste of a life for a few bites on a young bird. Thats just me. Most of the birds you can buy are 6-9 months. The older birds have more flavor and fat. I eat turkey year a round. I would be looking to save them for Easter or family BBQ next year. I am trying to pick out my Thanksgiving bird now. I have alot of ages since I hatch them. I think I will be picking one a little over a year. My in-laws have never had a heritage turkey. I don't want to turn them off by a scanny bird that has not developed a good about of fat to keep them moist and juicy. Feeding corn seems to put alot of fat on the skin. Heritage turkeys are much leaner and need that fat in the meat that only older birds seem to get.
  4. longranger

    longranger Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 23, 2009
    laguna hills CA
    A well fed heritage tom should make a great meal at 6 months. They do get bigger over the next year or so but the gain is at tremendous feed cost. Only can justify that for breeders.
  5. SaraF

    SaraF Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 10, 2010
    Agreeing partly with Tunastoppper. Any heritage breed bird will not be as beautiful,filled out, or contain as much white meat breast as a BBW, or BBB. But at 6months he should be just fine toeat. If you have a few weeks, make sure he is getting a lot of feed with high protein. My turkey's feed has 28% protein, it really crams that meat on. I'm sure he has food in front of him at all times. I always free range my birds. But if you are wanting some more juices and fats, try to limit his ranging. and put him on turkey finisher, which has a little less protein (23% for my feed) but has an increased amount of fat (from 2% in starter to 7% in finisher in my feed). If he is weighing in the 20's he should be great for thanksgiving.
    Home raised birds taste 100% better than any storebought bird. So if your family looks at it like "your kidding me", just tell them to taste it. They will change their mind about turkeys. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010
  6. Indy acres

    Indy acres Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 27, 2010
    Lebanon In.
    What is the easiest way to get the feathers off a turkey, this will be my first time and I sure don't want to have trouble like we had with the geese!! Any advice I would appreciate Thanks.[​IMG]
  7. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 19, 2009
    Well, lucky for you, turkeys aren't waterfowl.

    You can dry pluck, or you can scald -- it's up to you. But they should pluck out more like a chicken than a goose. [​IMG]
  8. Indy acres

    Indy acres Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 27, 2010
    Lebanon In.
    Thank you I am going to give it a try today!!![​IMG]
  9. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    We scald ours just like you would do a chicken.

  10. PatS

    PatS Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Northern Califonia
    Our Bourbon Reds are (were) the same age as yours. Sunday before last we cooked one up. He dressed out to 12 or 13 lbs. We just finished the leftovers last night. Depending on how many kids you have, I think it will be just fine.
    BTW, he didn't have the big puffy breast that a store bought bird has, but he didn't look scrawny at all. (We scalded, too.)

    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010

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