Turkey Talk

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Djcoak, Nov 26, 2015.

  1. Djcoak

    Djcoak Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 23, 2014
    So last year we raised our first turkey a big breasted bronze. We got him in March, processed him in July/Aug and he came in at 33 pounds. In our opinion he grew too fast and we got him too soon

    Fast forward to now, we bought 6 heritage turkeys in June. Not doing our due diligence we didn't realize how slow they grow. We got 3 Royal Palms and 3 Red Bourbons. We processed them Tuesday.......wait for it.......11 pounds

    So by law of averages I am prefect however in reality it's a good thing we are having a small gathering this year

    So I need to find a happy medium. We like the heritage breeds behavior, but that in itself doesn't make them a good bird. We also like the idea of raising breeds that are not as popular. But maybe they are not popular for a reason, I don't know

    Do the royal palms and red bourbons, when mature get breast meat like the broke does? My thought is to get 5 Royal Palms or red bourbons in March and 5 bronzes in June/july. However I want to ensure that they are mature and not too small or too large

    So I am looking for advice, any help is appreciated and hope everyone is having a great thanksgiving.
  2. Free Spirit

    Free Spirit The Chiarian

    Oct 21, 2015
    As you have figured out the Broad Breasted (Bronze or White) varieties have been developed for fast growth and large sizes. I got my BBB during the Easter weekend and was going to butcher when they were between 16-18 weeks for a nice 18lbs but my hubby and I got a cold and then had weather delays. So my tom was butchered around 20 weeks and finished dressed at 27lbs (hens at 22lbs and 24lbs. But since I eat a lot of turkey I wanted to put them all in the freezer (1 Tom and 2 hens) so having it fresh for Thanksgiving wasn't a big priority.

    What you want to try and do is get the BBB or BBW about 16 weeks before Thanksgiving. If you want a 16-20lb (depending on type and amount of feed) get them as chicks between the first week of July/first week of August. Toms will be larger than hens of the same age.

    My BBB were too dumb and wouldn't forage so my feed cost was a bit high and the only thing I gained was antibiotic free, guaranteed healthy birds for my dinner table.

    My plan is to get Heritage next spring (May/April) as I don't mind a smaller bird and they will forage for a lot of their own food along with their primary feed so I hope to reduce feed costs.

    According to the book I have "Storey's Guide to Raising Turkeys" the standard (live weight) for the following breeds are:

    Standard Heritage Turkey Breeds:
    Beltsville Small White: 21lbs Male / 12lbs Female
    Beltsville Small Black: 33lbs Male / 18lbs Female
    Bourben Red: 33lbs Male / 18lbs Female
    Bronze (not BBB): 36lbs Male / 20lbs Female
    Narragansett: 33lbs Male / 18lbs Female
    Royal Palm: 22lbs Male / 12lbs Female
    Slate: 33lbs Male / 18lbs Female
    White Holland: 36lbs Male / 20lbs Female

    Non-Standard Heritage Turkey Breeds:
    Auburn: 25lbs Male / 16lbs Female
    Chocolate: 23lbs Male / 14lbs Female
    Jersey Buff: 21lbs Male / 12lbs Female
    Midget White: 13lbs Male / 8lbs Female
    Regal Red: 23lbs Male / 14lbs Female
    Sweetgrass: 17-25lbs Male / 12-16lbs Female

    How much meat you get will depend on a few things: when they are weighed (before or after eating), how much fat they have vs how lean, etc). But you can guestimate that you will get approx. 70-75% of live weight when it's dressed out (lose 25-30% waste of feathers, organs, feet, head, etc.). So a 33lb Bourben Red tom could dress out at 24-25lbs give or take.

    Hope that helps you plan for next years Heritage Breed Turkey.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2015

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