***Thanksgiving Turkeys - Help Please!!!***

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by britbaskin, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. britbaskin

    britbaskin Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 14, 2009
    Livingston, Texas
    Hello! I'm going to attempt to raise turkeys for Thanksgiving. This will be my first time trying. Despite the extensive reading I've done, I still have questions.

    #1. Can Turkeys be kept with chickens in the same pen if they are pastured and free range during the day?

    #2. What breed would be best, considering I have a max of 8 months. I love the heritage breeds...

    #3. When you recommend a breed, would you also tell me the ideal time to butcher them? Thanks [​IMG]


    Those are my top three questions concerning turkeys. I've found for every question I have, there are at least a dozen opinions! I just want to find the most widely agreed on answer and go with that. Thanks so soooo sooooo much! [​IMG]
     
  2. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

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    May 13, 2008
    Quote:A#1 I personally do not keep my Turkeys with my chickens, but so many people do, I just don't like the idea of raising a turkey for many months only to have it croak of blackhead disease 1 week before processing.

    A#2 The heritage breeds are a good choice if you have 8 mo to raise them, BBW will be way to big at Thanksgiving, I made that mistake last yr and had one BBW that went 48 lbs dressed and would not fit in the oven LOL.

    A#3 Processing time for me is 3 days before thanksgiving on our dinner bird and I let it age till Thanksgiving morning, for our Christmas birds I do them a few days after thanksgiving, age them and freeze.

    Bourbon Reds are the tastiest of the herritage breeds and their size can be controlled well, feed for the size you want. I like big holiday dinner birds, they just look so impressive in the center of the table.

    This was our Thanksgiving bird from last yr, it was a BBW I raised for 5 mo, dressed out at 33 lbs, sure was a great accomplisment to have done that whole deal from chick to oven.

    AL
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Cara

    Cara Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 30, 2007
    NM
    Most hatcheries are sold out well into late April/May for heritage turkeys. Unfortunately chances are if you ordered those they wouldn't make weight in time.
     
  4. Chickaadee

    Chickaadee Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 9, 2009
    Western Ky
    They had Turkeys at our Rural King I called tonight to see what they got in there new shipment and everything was GONE... They had a ton of little Barred Rock chickens and corninsh - x and around 14 little Turkeys left Friday evening I wanted to buy three turkeys bad but... I didnt
    Mary
     
  5. britbaskin

    britbaskin Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 14, 2009
    Livingston, Texas
    Thanks for the replies!!! So I'm guessing BBW stands for Broad Breasted White..?

    According to Ideal Poultry they will have Bourbon Red Turkeys available April thru June...that would be early enough, right? I figure if I can get a turkey by the beginning of May I should have enough time to grow it to a decent, manageable size. It'd have roughly seven months of growing time.

    Or should I get a BBW and grow it for about five months as you did, al6517? Your turkey looks pretty darn good to me, lol. [​IMG]

    And while some of the online hatcheries are sold out of some of the heritage turkeys, I've been able to find a few nearby Texas breeders that have them available. So if I can't get them from Ideal or another hatchery, I suppose that's where I'll go next.
     
  6. Harp Turkey Ranch

    Harp Turkey Ranch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 18, 2008
    McCleary, WA
    I figure if I can get a turkey by the beginning of May I should have enough time to grow it to a decent, manageable size. It'd have roughly seven months of growing time.

    Yes that will be enough time to get a nice heritage turkey bird,if the genetics allow it. Most hatchery birds just grow small alot of the times no matter what you do. A heritage turkey needs 24-28 weeks to be ready to harvest. check out a few of the other topics that are at the top and you will be for sure to find the answers you seek.

    as far as the taste differences. They all taste pretty much the same. We have eaten almost every kind that is grown for market birds today and their is no real taste differences. Now with the wilds they have a more of a wild taste to them in my opinion. It is more the size you are looking for.

    Yes you can keep chickens with turkeys, but you are running a risk of spreading diseases between the two. We always have ours separated in pens, but sometimes when they are out ranging they will be mixed up.​
     
  7. britbaskin

    britbaskin Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 14, 2009
    Livingston, Texas
    Thanks for the info Harp! I think I'm going to get a majority of BBWs and also a few Bourbon Reds.

    I've been looking and looking but I haven't found any good recipes for organic Turkey feeds...any suggestions? I've mixed my horse feeds and it typically is ALOT cheaper so I imagine it's the same way with turkey feeds...

    And about how many sq. feet of floor space does a turkey need? I'm going to probably convert some 12x12 horse stalls into housing so I'm trying to figure out how many I can comfortably keep in each pen. Thanks!!


    ~Brit~
     
  8. Harp Turkey Ranch

    Harp Turkey Ranch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 18, 2008
    McCleary, WA
    And about how many sq. feet of floor space does a turkey need?

    I would say around 6-10 sq ft per bird if they are to stay in the pens for alot of time. If just roosting at night then alot less. They will require about 1sq ft of roosting space per bird. It all depends on what amount of time they are spending in the pen.


    I've been looking and looking but I haven't found any good recipes for organic Turkey feeds...any suggestions? I've mixed my horse feeds and it typically is A LOT cheaper so I imagine it's the same way with turkey feeds...

    We buy all our bag feed. We plant all our property in a 75% clover & 25% wheat or rye. This yields average 18-22% crude protein, plus attracts alot of bugs that are high in protein.so that can be used for your feed. If you are looking for like a recipe to mix to get a bag type feed then here is a recipe from Mike Walters......

    Walters Poultry Grower Feed 28% Protein

    (For 2000 lb Batch)

    Weight in pounds Ingredient Name


    775.58 Ground corn
    701.00 Soybean meal Hi-pro-B
    150.00 Wheat Middling
    47.00 Dist. Grains (corn)
    27.00 Calcium Co3
    185.00 Gluten meal 50#
    2.00 Chorine Chloride 60%
    41.00 Dical Phos 21%
    29.00 Fat. C.W.
    20.00 M&B Meal-Cert
    10.00 Lignin, Dried 2X 50#
    5.00 Salt Mixing #50
    5.00 Poultry MFG V/TM Fort
    These are optional but recommended:
    1.67 Bacitracin MD 30 G 50
    0.75 Histostat 50% 50#​
     
  9. britbaskin

    britbaskin Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 14, 2009
    Livingston, Texas
    Ok awesome! That helps tremendously! Thanks for the info about the clover and wheat or rye. I'll have to try that. The turkeys will be out from morning til dusk, if I can find a good guard dog of some sort. Or some means of protecting them. Suggestions..? I think my Heeler and English Mastiff would kill them..and my Chihuahua, though big at heart, won't offer much protection. Hehehe [​IMG]


    ~Brit~
     
  10. Harp Turkey Ranch

    Harp Turkey Ranch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 18, 2008
    McCleary, WA
    Once they are older and not tooo use to dogs and they have escape routes they should be fine. They are very fast on the ground and if they feel they are about to get jumped on they will usually fly up to escape harm if they have something to fly up on. As long as they are not fenced in a small yard and out in a field they will be fine. In fenced yards they seem to run straight into the corner of the fences and start poking their heads through(not smart) and what ever is trying to get them usually does. This is my little secret that I keep from them as this is how I catch them. Push them into a small area with fencing and push them into a corner and you got 'em.Too many at once and they fly but you still get some. [​IMG]
     

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