Turkey Talk


In the Brooder
5 Years
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.

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.
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