Standing in the Grocery Store Pondering Turkeys

3KillerBs

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Leads to this question,

If I want to be able to harvest a turkey that dresses out about 18 to 22 lbs for next Thanksgiving, what sort of turkeys do I need to get and when do I need to get them?

We would actually prefer less breast and more dark meat (I have been known to buy 2 fresh turkeys on sale, deconstruct one of them, and pin the leg quarters to the Thanksgiving bird to create a 4-legged turkey to satisfy the dark meat lovers in my family).

I have little knowledge of turkey varieties beyond "Narragansetts are pretty" and "BB varieties can't breed their own replacements."

Outside COVID restrictions we have a large family and like leftovers so I never buy turkeys smaller than 16lbs if I can help it. (A company holiday gift turkey that was only 11lbs ended up in the crockpot for a regular dinner one time, so I would have *something* to do with smaller turkeys -- just not holiday dinner).

(It's nice to have a place to ask questions where the idea "If I were killing my own turkey for Thanksgiving I'd have to do it this Friday on my day off," doesn't make people freak out).
 

oldhenlikesdogs

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Heritage varieties grow slower, can reproduce, and tend to have more dark meat because they are very active birds. You would probably have to wait until they are a year or two to get that big of a carcass.

The broad breasted varieties grow quickly, and are less mobile, so the meat is more white and tender. I've never raised those, but I believe they are big enough by 4-6 months.

Both varieties will consume a lot of feed as they grow. It probably isn't financially sound to raise your own to save money. I still haven't figured out why store turkeys are so cheap. Mine eat like piggies that first year.
 

3KillerBs

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Heritage varieties grow slower, can reproduce, and tend to have more dark meat because they are very active birds. You would probably have to wait until they are a year or two to get that big of a carcass.

The broad breasted varieties grow quickly, and are less mobile, so the meat is more white and tender. I've never raised those, but I believe they are big enough by 4-6 months.

Both varieties will consume a lot of feed as they grow. It probably isn't financially sound to raise your own to save money. I still haven't figured out why store turkeys are so cheap. Mine eat like piggies that first year.

I wasn't planning on saving money. I wanted to get better turkey -- especially since DH is sensitive to some ingredient used in the solutions with which almost all ordinary turkeys are "enhanced".
 

JacinLarkwell

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Royal palm are a smaller variety. Most top out at 15-20 I believe. Are you sure they weren't broad breasted?
I'm positive they weren't bbw. After our first year, I decided I would never have a bb variety as a pet again, so I got the rpyals when a family friend couldn't keep them. They were beautifully white with black stripes. But again, they were far older than most people want to wait to process. They also stayed on a high protein (I think the 28 percent stuff) their whole lives.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

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I wanted to come back and update my experience information. Over the past weekend we butcher 2 of my young jakes. They were pretty big boys for their age. We estimated the black was around 15-20 pounds dressed, and the midget white at around 12 pounds.

Both were hatched on June 15, bought from Murray Mcmurray.

Before this batch all my turkeys were gotten through Porters. So from this group it's possible to raise some heritage to a decent size by 5-7 months.

Unfortunately both Jakes decided to attack an older hen, so they had to go. They have been a robust batch.
 

Geena

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Holiday turkeys are a loss leader, actually. (Most places.)

They must be. You can buy a turkey from the grocery store at Thanksgiving for less than it cost to buy a poult!
We raised some BBWs one year, and yes they got huge and were delicious, but they ate unbelievable amounts of food, WAY more than heritage turkeys.
 

3KillerBs

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I wanted to come back and update my experience information. Over the past weekend we butcher 2 of my young jakes. They were pretty big boys for their age. We estimated the black was around 15-20 pounds dressed, and the midget white at around 12 pounds.

Both were hatched on June 15, bought from Murray Mcmurray.

Before this batch all my turkeys were gotten through Porters. So from this group it's possible to raise some heritage to a decent size by 5-7 months.

Unfortunately both Jakes decided to attack an older hen, so they had to go. They have been a robust batch.

Thank you for the update.

I think that 15-20lb dressed would be an acceptable weight range for my needs as host for a large family's holiday dinners. :)
 

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