turkey basics please

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

  1. mirandamommy

    mirandamommy Out Of The Brooder

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    The advice from this site has helped tremendously with my chickens-now 1 year and thriving. I'm onto my next venture. I'm getting 3 bourbon red turkeys in about a month. Do they need to be in a brooder for the same time as chicks? Anyone have pics of their turkey coop set-ups? I don't have a lot of room, but want to keep them seperate from the chickens. I plan to process them for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Do I do anything different like feed them more or differently because of that? Will they be ready by then? Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!
     
  2. Harp Turkey Ranch

    Harp Turkey Ranch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do I do anything different like feed them more or differently because of that?

    Feed a 28% or so feed for their entire life.

    Will they be ready by then?

    Figure 6-8 months, depending on the genetics. From hatcheries it takes 8-10 months to get a good filled out tom/hen. Compared to 6-8 months if you were to buy from a breeder that breeds for growth and size for market birds.

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    Here is a link to some good reading, that will help you out a lot if you are new to the turkeys. www.ces.ncsu.edu/chatham/ag/SustAg/rangeturkeybooklet.pdf

    Hopes
    this helps you on your new adventure.​
     
  3. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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  4. sandspoultry

    sandspoultry Everybody loves a Turkey

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    They will be on the small side for Thanksgiving, they won't have filled out all the way but they will do just fine. The whole taste of a heritage turkey comes from the slower growth and the time to mature. Sure you can feed them high protien feed for the whole growout period to make them gain weight quicker but you are going to loose out in taste. Like a Cornish Cross vs heritage type chicken. Even in the heritage breeds there is a difference in the taste breed by breed. As was mentioned before the ALBC (which we are members) did a blind taste test last year and the Midget White won followed by the Bourbon Red, a butter ball was last.

    Steve in NC
     
  5. Harp Turkey Ranch

    Harp Turkey Ranch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    (sorry double posted.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2009
  6. Harp Turkey Ranch

    Harp Turkey Ranch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They will be on the small side for Thanksgiving, they won't have filled out all the way but they will do just fine. The whole taste of a heritage turkey comes from the slower growth and the time to mature. Sure you can feed them high protein feed for the whole grow out period to make them gain weight quicker but you are going to loose out in taste.

    Please explain your methods on your grow out, as they go against everything ever written on the subject, even the old timers writings from the early 1900's ?? And how you can get in a longer grow out season, then the rest ??

    A healthy heritage turkey requires a high protein diet to develop a strong skeletal structure and healthy organs as well as building good muscle mass. If you feed a heritage turkey a 16-18% protein diet during grow out, you will have a bird that is more bones then meat in a 6-8 month grow out season, you should see in a BR tom @ 28 weeks 20-25lbs dressed,if they come from a good breeder with good genetics. On hatchery quality birds you will see about a 15-18 lbs in 28 weeks,if fed on a high protein diet. If you can afford to raise a turkey for a year or so then you could feed the lower protein. And the meat would tough !! As the majority of the consumers report that the meat is already tougher in the 6-8 month old birds compared to a BB turkey. Plus the pin feathers would be horrible from an older bird,what a pain when dressing the birds !!! Not to mention the look of the finished dressed bird,with all the pin feathers [​IMG]

    Where would a person even get a poult at in the winter time ?? Unless a person was artificially lighting birds to get them to lay earlier you will not even be able to get eggs or poults from most breeds until around Late Feb. - March time and at that time the hens will not be producing enough eggs to even start a decent flock unless a person had 25-30 hens.

    You will not find any heritage turkey producer that raises their turkeys for longer then 7-8 months. A person would loose money if they where to grow a bird out longer, even if they charge their customers 8-10 dollars a pound. ick

    In the ALBC taste test if I'm not mistaken all of those birds where done on a 24-28 week grow out fed on a high protein diet. according to all the farms that raised the birds for the test. Could be wrong though ??

    Basically if you start out with good strong genetics you will have yourself a fine bird, sometimes too big of a bird for Thanksgiving. As long as all your poults are hatched out before April 26 you'll be just fine. That gives them right at 7 months to grow. May 26 would give you a 6 month grow out.How much slower could you get a year ???

    If the genetics of a bird can not produce you a good size bird in that time frame then the genetics of that bird don't need to be bred back into anything as it would be considered a cull genetic line in a true producer/breeder's eyes. People that breed for just the eggs and the money they get from breeding them don't really care about grow out size,resulting in poor genetic lines and hurt the species more then they could ever help it.​
     
  7. sandspoultry

    sandspoultry Everybody loves a Turkey

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    Quote:
    Please explain your methods on your grow out, as they go against everything ever written on the subject, even the old timers writings from the early 1900's ?? And how you can get in a longer grow out season, then the rest ??

    Get your self a copy of Turkey Management by Marsden & Martin. It will help you. Recommended starting diets in the turkey feeds and feeding chapter - University of Calf. mix 24% protien, Purdue U, 24.7%, Michigan state college 25% - some list higher some list lower average is mid 20% range.
    Growing diets- U Calf 21 to 24%, Kentucky U, 21%, USDA research station in Beltsville MD 20% - once again some higher, some lower average low 20%.

    That comes from the "old timers" in the early 1900's. Of course you can look around and find whatever protien levels you want for feeding, there are alot of other factors involved - the amont of forage they have is also a big factor.


    A healthy heritage turkey requires a high protein diet to develop a strong skeletal structure and healthy organs as well as building good muscle mass. If you feed a heritage turkey a 16-18% protein diet during grow out, you will have a bird that is more bones then meat in a 6-8 month grow out season, you should see in a BR tom @ 28 weeks 20-25lbs dressed,if they come from a good breeder with good genetics. On hatchery quality birds you will see about a 15-18 lbs in 28 weeks,if fed on a high protein diet. If you can afford to raise a turkey for a year or so then you could feed the lower protein. And the meat would tough !! As the majority of the consumers report that the meat is already tougher in the 6-8 month old birds compared to a BB turkey. Plus the pin feathers would be horrible from an older bird,what a pain when dressing the birds !!! Not to mention the look of the finished dressed bird,with all the pin feathers [​IMG]

    We have eaten quite a few older birds and they were never tough - I guess it's all in knowing how to cook it [​IMG] . Our last Eastern Wild turkey we hunted was about 3 years old and he was melt in your mouth tender.

    Where would a person even get a poult at in the winter time ?? Unless a person was artificially lighting birds to get them to lay earlier you will not even be able to get eggs or poults from most breeds until around Late Feb. - March time and at that time the hens will not be producing enough eggs to even start a decent flock unless a person had 25-30 hens.

    Our Beltsville Small Whites started laying about Christmas 2008, followed in Jan by the White Hollands, Next were the Bourbon reds and Royal Palms, Midget Whites, last is the Standard Bronze that just started laying but they are young. We have zero extra lighting. If you have ever watched the egg sales on ebay, eggbid and on BYC they start being offered from the southern states and as the spring goes on move to the northern states.

    You will not find any heritage turkey producer that raises their turkeys for longer then 7-8 months. A person would loose money if they where to grow a bird out longer, even if they charge their customers 8-10 dollars a pound. ick

    I agree with you there "they would loose money" The whole idea is grow them out as quick as you can and get them out the door- just like a turkey house does. dollars per pound as quick as you can and as cheap as you can. I would rather have a slow bird.

    In the ALBC taste test if I'm not mistaken all of those birds where done on a 24-28 week grow out fed on a high protein diet. according to all the farms that raised the birds for the test. Could be wrong though ??

    Basically if you start out with good strong genetics you will have yourself a fine bird, sometimes too big of a bird for Thanksgiving. As long as all your poults are hatched out before April 26 you'll be just fine. That gives them right at 7 months to grow. May 26 would give you a 6 month grow out.How much slower could you get a year ???

    If the genetics of a bird can not produce you a good size bird in that time frame then the genetics of that bird don't need to be bred back into anything as it would be considered a cull genetic line in a true producer/breeder's eyes. People that breed for just the eggs and the money they get from breeding them don't really care about grow out size,resulting in poor genetic lines and hurt the species more then they could ever help it.

    There are alot of breeders that grow out and sell birds and eggs not meat birds. Kevin Porter comes to mind right off, I guess he's just in it for the money to and doesn't care about the breed since he doesn't breed for a quick grow out. We breed ours for the heritage traits not a quick grow out. There is alot more to a heritage turkey than "grow out" time, nowhere in the APA standard is there a section for grow out time. The reason for the heritage turkeys almost going extint was the BB types were developed for fast weight gain, sounds like some breeders now are trying to do the same thing with the heritage birds. Something to think about, at what point does a heritage turkey cross the line to a production turkey? When Tyson starts growing them in turkey houses?

    Steve in NC​
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2009
  8. reveriereptile

    reveriereptile Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just make sure you don't over feed them. If they gain weight to fast their legs might not be able to support them and start bowing till they have to be culled earlier than planned. That was my only problem I had with turkeys till now that I have two males that are fighting and it is still to cold to put them outside.

    Also keep their poop cleaned up in the brooder. They don't do good if they eat their or any other birds' poop.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2009
  9. Harp Turkey Ranch

    Harp Turkey Ranch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Get your self a copy of Turkey Management by Marsden & Martin. It will help you. Recommended starting diets in the turkey feeds and feeding chapter - University of Calf. mix 24% protien, Purdue U, 24.7%, Michigan state college 25% - some list higher some list lower average is mid 20% range.
    Growing diets- U Calf 21 to 24%, Kentucky U, 21%, USDA research station in Beltsville MD 20% - once again some higher, some lower average low 20%.

    Yes Steve that is some great reading!!! I actually own a first edition of the book that I was lucky to score off one of my late grandfathers collection of books. Pretty amazing how we have come so far in such a short time frame. Back when the USDA fed meat scraps to livestock and it was a very widely known and used practice.
    I have taken the time to scan a few pages for everyones readings. On the Feeds and Feeding Chapters. If you notice when you read it they all are supplementing their turkeys with High proteins (milk,meat scraps,etc.) along with their low protein feeds, which in return would make the end result a high protein diet.Even in the grower diets they all state that you need to give a scratch grain consisting in alot of high protein grains and most only give their turkeys milk to drink instead of water. Back then the milk was straight from the cow, with VERY high protein levels and fat. Also in the readings that they state they are always looking for a way to cheapen the feed bill up in any way, that would also account for the lower protein levels in the mash and all the added supplements.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I agree with you there "they would loose money" The whole idea is grow them out as quick as you can and get them out the door- just like a turkey house does. dollars per pound as quick as you can and as cheap as you can. I would rather have a slow bird.

    No Steve this is the norm it has been for the past 100 years or so. I have read soooo many books on this subject and have yet to find one that states they grow their birds any longer, except for breeding purposes. 7-8 months, that is very very slow how much slower are you talking about ?????

    [​IMG]

    We have eaten quite a few older birds and they were never tough - I guess it's all in knowing how to cook it wink . Our last Eastern Wild turkey we hunted was about 3 years old and he was melt in your mouth tender.

    That is not saying much. I can cook anything and make it soft and taste good. Doesn't mean that it is that much better. I will guarantee you that you did not cook that 3 year old bird the same manner you would a 28 week old bird. If you did then I would love to get that recipe as I will have a few 3-4 year old birds this year that are going to be food and I'll try it. As I love learning new things.


    Kevin Porter comes to mind right off, I guess he's just in it for the money to and doesn't care about the breed since he doesn't breed for a quick grow out.

    There again you are not right there Steve. I have grown out Kevin's birds for meat his BR's and Narr's. They all grew out to a great size in the 24-27 week window. They where right there with the rest from good genetic stocks. Well ahead of all the hatchery birds. But you also have to remember that Kevin started raising turkeys for his feather business and meat,not for eggs and poults that was a by product,that came with the business. He has now grown to making up his own turkey colors for various reasons and also bringing back turkeys that would be extinct if not for him.

    There is alot more to a heritage turkey than "grow out" time, nowhere in the APA standard is there a section for grow out time.

    I'm sure glad that our ancestors did not have that type of thinking when they founded this great p;lace. One could only imagine what the meat breeds would have been like if your type of thinking was used in the creation of these animals. Well I guess one could see today, they would just need to buy stock from a hatchery or a breeder as yourself and do a grow out on them as if they where to feed their family's like back in the old days. To the old days ways, Man all we would have today is a bunch of taller broiler sized turkeys !!! And at that rate they would have gone extinct a while ago as there would be no use for them ?? If everybody was to raise turkeys for only pets or egg/poult sales, no good meat genetics left, you actually think that there would be turkeys here today ??? History would show you NO that they would have all gone extinct or right at by now, as they all ready did, it has only been the last 5 years or so that we have started to raise for meats again and now look at the numbers. So it goes to show anybody that they have to be eaten to be saved from a mass extinction.


    Something to think about, at what point does a heritage turkey cross the line to a production turkey?

    What are you talking about ??? Heritage turkeys have been production birds from day one. That was the whole reason of creating them !! What do you think that all the old timers just kept them as pets on the farms ???
    I would read "Turkey Management"by Marsden & Martin, alot closer then you already have. If you read in the breeding section what to look for in breeding turkeys,it is all about production of MEAT.

    The reason for the heritage turkeys almost going extint was the BB types were developed for fast weight gain

    No, it was because us Americans got lazy and stopped caring about our foods. Why spend all that time and money out growing food when you could just go to the store and buy it, cheaper ?? It was all due to pure laziness and a lack of caring. Those generations got caught up in who could own the biggest houses and the most cars, not who could grow the best foods with the most nutritions. Look at us today. No money and a a very small amount of quality foods left. I for one am sure glad that some of us are trying to help bring back the great foods of the past and not see if we can make the all mighty dollar on soulfully on eggs and poults/chicks. There is still some that care about food and feeding Americans, not selling them pets.

    Wes in WA​
     
  10. sandspoultry

    sandspoultry Everybody loves a Turkey

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    Harp nice book you scanned the pages from. I have read it many times and once again I am not even going to try to discuss points with you since it is a waste of time. And it usually ends up with the moderators getting involved.
    Steve
     

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