Lots of fat in Tom's chest area

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by PatS, Nov 24, 2011.

  1. PatS

    PatS Songster

    Mar 28, 2009
    Northern Califonia
    We just cooked the last of our turkeys. Since I did cooking duty, I don't think I'll really be able to talk about how it tasted until tomorrow, my taste buds are exhausted! But this ol' boy had an absolute ton of fat in his chest area. He was a midget white and was slaughtered when he was about 10 months old. He did not seem obese in life or when we slaughtered him, but when we went to slice him he had an area that was just pure fat. I remember thinking his chest was nicely filled out, but unfortunately it wasn't meat! I've never seen anything like it and I've eaten a lot of turkeys in my life (although only a handful have been home-grown.) When I was preparing him, I did not notice any abundance of yellow fat.

    He free ranged on pasture and for the last couple of months was offered the chickens' food free-choice. (He started his life on turkey starter then grower, then it seemed like the turkey were all stealing chicken food and the chickens were all stealing turkey food, and you know how it goes.)

    Is this a common occurrence? Like, two giant handfuls worth of fat under the skin by the breastbone? If not, what should I do differently next time?
  2. HallFamilyFarm

    HallFamilyFarm APA ETL#195

    Jan 25, 2010
    Monticello, Arkansas
    Hmmm. Have never heard of this. Looking forward to an answer.
  3. nivtup

    nivtup Songster

    Apr 24, 2008
    Shelton Washington
    We had the same issue last year.

    I think overfeeding / overeating is the issue.

    The fat was not yellow, but there was an ample supply of it.

    I trimmed a bunch of it away before roasting. The birds were delicious.
  4. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    Fat makes the bird tasty. But it is a compromise because it costs money to put fat onto a bird, so you don't want them to be too fat.

    I weigh my feed and it sure doesn't seem like I am giving much, but my birds are fat as pigs. I suspect that most people are over-feeding their birds. The birds seem to eat it if it is available whether they need it or not.

    There has to be a study available that shows how much feed for each bird. That's something that one of the agricultural universities would have figured out with great precision.

    Also, treats often make birds fat, so if you feed a lot of treats, cut back on the amount of feed to adjust the calorie intake.
  5. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

    May 13, 2008
    Quote:X10 Ditto, over treating is an evil thing that most willingly overlook. I do prefer some fat but only a little.
  6. Lagerdogger

    Lagerdogger Songster

    Jun 30, 2010
    Aitkin, MN
    A small proportion of my heritage birds get that fatty deposit at the front of the chest area. Last year, I had a complaint about it, so this year my turkey gutters were instructed to watch for the fat to make sure this family got a lean turkey. None of the hens had it, and only two toms (out of about 8). All the birds could free-feed all the time, so if its overeating, its a personal choice. I think it just happens sometimes.
  7. PatS

    PatS Songster

    Mar 28, 2009
    Northern Califonia
    Thanks for the responses.

    I wonder how much of it would have just meltled away during cooking, if we didn't have the meat thermometer malfunction and tell us the turkey was done about an hour early. We pulled it out, cut a couple of slices, and then saw and removed the fat, before deciding to give the turkey more time in the oven. (But judging from the amount, there still would have been quite a bit.)

    It turned out yummy. Now even DH is saying we are going to raise more turkeys in the spring!

    I just have to discover a breed that is not only delicious, but will get along nicely with the chickens, since everyone has free run of the property. I've been told Narragansetts fit the bill. The BRs were yummy but beat up the rooster and the MW chased the UPS guy!
  8. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Songster

    Aug 8, 2011
    Quote:I've got a mature bronze cross tom (3/4 bronze, 1/4 ?) and a juvenile spanish tom. In the hen group I've got a pair of bronze crosses, an RP, a chocolate, and a BBW. they free range with my chickens (mostly New Hampshires) and other than a bit of boxing on the first couple of days, they get on fine. there's definitely a feed-space order. both toms and our roo are a bit people shy, not at all agressive. among the turkeys, only the BBW is friendly, the rest keep a safe distance from people.

    granted, my turkey experience is quite limited, but I"m not seeing any breed differences in our turkeys in terms of getting along with the chickens. after the first two days of boxing, it's all been quite mellow.
  9. PatS

    PatS Songster

    Mar 28, 2009
    Northern Califonia
    Ours were fine, too, for a while. Then the BR girls discovered they were bigger than the chickens and started behaving like juvenile delinquents. They loved chasing the roo, and would attack him when he tried to mate the (chicken) hens. The boys were frustrated because the girls paid them no mind. Then once spring HINTED at arriving the girls turned on each other. Knock-down drag-out fights. They had two acres, our dozen chickens and half dozen turks, and it wasn't enough room for them to coexist peacefully. Maybe it was just the unique personalities of those particular individuals, but, as pretty as they were, I don't think we'll try BRs again.
  10. ShadyHoller

    ShadyHoller Chirping

    Sep 12, 2010
    Willamette Valley
    This question has come up a few times, and, while there are different opinions out there, it looks like the general agreement is too much food and treats.

    Here are my two comparisons: last year our birds were confined in a coop (about 25 sq. ft. per bird, so plenty of room, but definitely not free range) and we fed them high-protein pellets and piles of cracked corn and other treats. The result: obese birds with gobs of fat. This year we raised them on pasture, and gave them the same all-purpose feed the rest of our birds get (including our layers) and they got garden scraps and whatever bugs and clover they foraged on their own. The result: the birds still had some fat deposits in the front of the chest and around the gizzard and heart, but they weren't obese. My conclusion: keeping the birds on good pasture is the only way to go!

    here are previous threads on the same subject:


    (edited to add the following:)

    Our birds this year are descendants of last year's birds, so any change in fat should not be the result of different breeds or genetics.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2011

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