Turkey growing advice needed - want to sell a few for Thanksgiving

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by SimplyAbundantFarm, May 5, 2008.

  1. SimplyAbundantFarm

    SimplyAbundantFarm In the Brooder

    Feb 24, 2008
    I have never raised turkeys before, but each year I get calls from folks looking for them the week before Thanksgiving. I have decided to give it a whirl this year and I would like to raise both a heritage breed and some BB Bronze.

    I see all sorts of postings about these monster birds that people raise. I don't want a monster turkey -- I want something that the average family would be interested in putting on their dinner table. One of the reasons I am looking at two separate breeds is so that I have a smaller bird available and a larger bird available -- plus, I know that some folks will want size and what I like to call 'familiarity' (a bird that is a little closer to what they are used to from the store -- their 'first step' bird toward healthier eating) over the fact that one is a heritage breed, and vice versa. That said...here are my questions for you experienced Turkey raisers out there...

    1. What size of bird do you find that your average customer wants?

    2. To make sure that my birds are the size you mentioned above, when should the birds be hatched? How much difference in time should there be between the start date of the heritage birds vs. the BB Bronzes?

    3. Which heritage breed will provide me with the meatiest breast?

    4. I know that the BB Bronze will likely not be able to fly for very long, but will I need to fully enclose their area so that the heritage birds don't fly away?

    5. Any other tips or suggestions?

  2. wynedot55

    wynedot55 Songster

    Mar 28, 2007
    Quote:looks like to have turkeys ready for thanksgiving youd have to start them in june or july.that would make them 16 to 18 weeks old by the processing date.
    1.most people want a 12 to 15lb bird.some may want a tad bigger.
    2.you might should call the hatchery.an tell them you want birds ready by thanksgiving.an see what they reccommend.im thinking start them in june.an butcher them nov1st or there abouts.
    3.see 2 for answer.
    4.id want a 4 or 5ft tall fence for their pen.
  3. hazelton farms

    hazelton farms Songster

    Jan 4, 2008
    Geez..ya know, you raise a good question. I think I'd like to order maybe two of each heritage breed that I could easily find in a hatchery (IE narragansette (sp), royal palm, bourbon red, blue slate, black spanish ~ did I forget any major ones?) and see what would provide the best meat/killing time. I know that I've been told the royal palms don't have very good breast meat, but as I've never processed any myself, I'm not sure.

    Let us know what you find out from the hatcheries when/if you can.

  4. pdpatch

    pdpatch Songster

    Apr 5, 2008
    Hastings, Nebraska
    We decide to do some turkeys this year for the first time. We already ordered and received ours. But they are on there second larger brooder now, and will get one more before they go out side area. They grew a lot faster then we expected. They are already larger then our chickens chicks, except for the one Cornish X broiler we got.

    We have Bourbon red, Blue slate for Heritage birds , the other two breeds are BB bronze, and Great White. We could only get them as a straight run. But you can start to see which are tom's by how they behave. The BB Bronze have started to occasionally drop there wings, set there head back, and spread there tail feathers.

    Most hatcheries have assortment of turkey's, Usually these are straight runs but not always. We decided to make our own assortment

    Usually min order is 15 turkey chicks, at least one hatchery Has a dollar amount for the min

    Some hatcheries are sold out for May, and they done have any status for June yet in the online stores.

    we found a lot of information here. http://www.albc-usa.org/downloads.html
    they give a general weight range for when there initial processing time starts.

    Also some of the online hatchery sites have information on selecting breeds.

    As long as you have Cold storage available processing time would not matter much.
    At about 20 weeks the initial processing window will open and about 30 weeks you loose most of you profit from them commercially. In our case we have a large chest type freezer and a refrigertor not in use.

    Another problem is if you are going to process them your self or have someone else do it.
    Depending on were you are located it may be difficult to find some one to process them for you. Especially the larger turkey's, we have a couple of hunters who would help use process them. But they have had to do BB bronze and they say they won't help with those, They did it for some who who kept a BB Bronze for a pet and it dressed to over 40 lbs.

    There is one association that has a Mobile Processing Unit (MPU) in our State. But you have to join them first to get access to the MPU, and I have not located any or else who will do small numbers of turkey's yet. So it look like I will be doing the processing.
  5. SimplyAbundantFarm

    SimplyAbundantFarm In the Brooder

    Feb 24, 2008
    Thanks, all... Every single bit of information is helpful. I had thought about getting an assortment, too, and may still go that route. Plus, they seem to have the best availability for mystery assortments.

    Thanks, too, for the link to the albc website. I had looked at some of their info before, but somehow missed thie page with all of this good turkey info.

    I think you're right on the size -- I've always been used to a 15-20# dressed bird. It was just that I kept reading on this site about people talking about their 30-40+ pounders...that I started to think I might be missing something.

    Please keep the info and ideas coming...that's how we learn and it certainly is helpful!
  6. chickenhawk

    chickenhawk Chirping

    One more thing you might want to consider. Birds with white feathers usually look much better dressed.Its hard to get every little feather to come out clean. Some customers might not like the looks of a dressed heritage breed.
    Last edited: May 5, 2008
  7. SimplyAbundantFarm

    SimplyAbundantFarm In the Brooder

    Feb 24, 2008
    Thanks...I think you're right. Plus, since most folks' experience has only been with grocery store turkeys, it is one more thing that makes the bird seem a bit familiar, I suspect.

  8. u8sushi

    u8sushi In the Brooder

    May 3, 2010
    Heritage birds take longer to get to a good eating size. My narragansette toms will be seven months in November. And around 12 to 15 lbs. dressed.
  9. gettinaclue

    gettinaclue Songster

    Mar 12, 2009
    My DH and I are going to raise turkeys next year for Thanksgiving as well. His boss told him that an aunt of his raised turkeys, butchered one about 3 days before thanksgiving and it was the best bird he's ever eaten, so we are going to give it a try. His aunt passed away so I can't ask her which breed she raised.

    After doing some research, we will be getting some midget whites in spring and some BBB in early summer. From what I understand, this should give me just about the right time frame for dressing them out right before thanksgiving next year.

    Heritage birds seem to take 10 to 12 months to grow out, and the BBB only need a few months.

    I could be wrong though LOL

    We are not going to sell ours, we have just decided to do our own taste test between the two and see which we like best.

    Good luck to you on your venture. I hope it goes well.
  10. You will like the Midget Whites they are our fav.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: