Raising turkeys for Thanksgiving


11 Years
Mar 10, 2012
Hohenwald, TN
Do any of ya'll raise turkeys all year for Thanksgiving dinner? Because I want to do that in the spring but I had a couple questions. Which breed is the best? What should I do for their living quarters? Can they live with my chickens?

Thanks all that reply. If you could post pics of your fav breeds
THis is a very broad question.

YOu can raise up BBW or BBB starting about 4-5 months before thanksgiving as they grow so very fast; I have several 4-5 month old heritage toms ( BR) that will make a nice small dinner by thanksgiving, or bit bigger for Christmas dinner.

I'm trying Auburns, nariigansetts and a third breed from Porters. All rised together, they seem to be growing at the same rate which I would expect as the mature body weight for all three is about the same, at 33-35 pounds for the toms.

BBW tastes just as good; though I do think how much walking and exercising affects the taste and texture IMO. All depends on what you like.

You might need to read old threads to learn what housing is suitable for your area and contact your local ag extension for help; they will know what works and is allowed for housing. Your local ordinances will also dictate what housing must be provided. Most towns have laws that must be followed.
I just bought 3 Heritage Turkeys, 1 tom 2 hens with the intention of breeding for Thanksgiving dinner. I want to give birds to family and friends :). They will not be as big but I hear they taste divine!
I just bought 3 Heritage Turkeys, 1 tom 2 hens with the intention of breeding for Thanksgiving dinner. I want to give birds to family and friends :). They will not be as big but I hear they taste divine!
I have been eating my 5 month old chickens and I do find the texture to be different than the birds at the grocery store that are marketed at 6 weeks old. How old the birds are and the amount of exercise IMO make a difference in the texture and toughness of the meat. De pends on what you like. Maybe worth investigating the management for the last 4-6 weeks to get the product you are looking for.

When the birds fill out is an issue too. Maybe a few people with more experience can tell us when they fill out.
We just butchered our two BBBs for Thanksgiving dinner. Since this was my first attempt at doing this, I was nervous. But it all turned out well. A little heartbreaking, but they were bought for food. I made every attempt to keep them separate from my hens, for their health. but as the weather started getting colder and wetter, (Pacific Northwest), I went ahead and housed them all together for the last 3 weeks. Killing your own turkeys that you have had to "mother" just to keep them alive when they're poults, is not easy. They are very friendly, and very attatched to you. I spent hours online trying to figure the most humane way to do it, my husband respected my wishes, and it was an emotionally freeing experience. Knowing that they weren't treated badly, and were happy birds till the end. As far as tenderness of the meat? I'll let ya know tomorrow. What I did do is brine them for 2 days in a fridge. I have decided that I will buy heritage birds so I can have my pets, and eat their kids! lol Just my way of getting my bird and eating it too! Good luck to you. Its a wonderful experience. Just one more thing? They poop gianormous! lol
Nice job!!

Yes, after mothering them for any length of time surely changes the relationship. I better understand how commercial birds are treated impartially. IT's the emotional survival of the workers.

I am doing the same as you. Have a few breeder birds to make poults too!

Enjoy your turkey dinner.
I raise large Holland White heritage turkeys, which take 9 to 10 months to mature, but we do not just eat turkey for Thanksgiving. The texture, IMO, is not so dependent on age like chicken is and turkeys at 2 years old are tender and juicy. I have a dozen hens as breeding stock and will sell hatching eggs and day old poults, with lots of fresh meat for not only roasted turkey, but also BBQ, turkey cutlets, all flavors of sausages and turkey burgers, and lean ground turkey. Turkey is very healthy meat and delicious all year. When you raise your own food, you know what goes into it and what doesn't and how humanely it is treated. We raise our own chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and rabbits. I am working on the Holland Whites to get a larger breasted turkey that can mate naturally, by selective breeding. You can see 2 of my last turkeys I raised on the" If I show you mine, will you show me yours" thread. They are not double breasted, but I have a good start on a one and a half size breast heritage bird. Most heritage birds have less than 1/2the size breast of a BB turkey, except for the Midget White, that are the size of a large chicken.Good luck with your turkey adventures and may God bless you for the humane way you treat His creatures, He has given us for food!

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