Raising turkeys for the very first time

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by heidiinak, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. heidiinak

    heidiinak In the Brooder

    Apr 21, 2011
    My husband and I are planning on raising turkeys this year for Thanksgiving and I am wondering what breed(s) might be the best for our first time around. Some suggestions we have received are the Giant Whites and the Broad Breasted Bronzes. Any thoughts? Pros/Cons? We live in Alaska and will be having the turkeys shipped to us around mid-may. Any advice or suggestions would be very helpful. I plan on placing my order within the next week or so. Thank you!!
  2. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    Do you want these turkeys to breed to produce more turkeys in the future or will they be just a one-time then in the freezer deal?

    Are you SURE you'll slaughter them when the time comes or is there a chance that you're going to hesitate?

    If they are not for breeding and you're sure you actually will slaughter them when they reach weight the go with the hybrid broad-breasted whites or bronzes. They grow fast and do it on less feed. But they also frequently outgrow their hearts and skeletons if you try to keep them alive for more than a year to a year and a half. Some folks manage it, but many do not. These birds are meant to grow fast and die young.

    If you want to breed or if you're not really sure you'll actually be able to do the deed when the moment of truth arrives then go with one of the "heritage" breeds. They can reproduce themselves naturally and will live for years if you manage them right.

    Be warned though that turkeys have a lot of personality.
  3. heidiinak

    heidiinak In the Brooder

    Apr 21, 2011
    Thank you for the advice. We do not plan on keeping any of the turkeys as "pets". I have been told by several people that butchering a turkey that I have raised from a chick might be a hard thing due to their personalities. Believe it or not, my husband is actually the one I'll have to worry about becoming attached to the turkeys. Maybe we should get some of both kinds just in case he falls in love [​IMG]
  4. ColbyNTX

    ColbyNTX Songster

    May 2, 2009
    Woods, TX
    I would get some heritage birds also. That way you can breed them and have more turkeys down the road for eating. Shipping is hard on poults and you are pretty far away from most hatcheries. Get them all at once!
  5. Garrisonkidsduo2

    Garrisonkidsduo2 Chirping

    Nov 4, 2011
    Williford, Arkansas
    I raised mine last year. I got extra because my husband and I were thinking about letting them reproduce so we wouldn't have to buy more. Believe it or not it really isn't that hard to kill a turkey that you raised. We just had to look at all of them as food and when it come time to kill them we choose which ones to keep. I will admit this when we got them there was one that was a little darker yellowish brown then the rest, I did fall in love with him because as he started to get older he got darker, plus he is the tamest, tom we had. The kids love him because he follows them and lets them pet him. It is really nice to raise them plus just to be able to look at them all the time is really nice to. Plus the following year you will have babies that you can eat.
  6. Clay Valley Farmer

    Clay Valley Farmer Songster

    Sep 7, 2010
    One thing to considder is that if you get them in mid May the heritage turkeys will still be pretty scrawny at Thanksgiving, you would be lucky to have the toms yield much more than 10lb dressed.

    On the other hand the production breeds would be huge unless you put them in the freezer ahead of Thanksgiving. The production breeds will make much more efficient use of feed which is importaint where feed prices are high.

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