Turkeys -- Few Questions

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by TimG, Nov 28, 2009.

  1. TimG

    TimG Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    Maine
    I do not know much (anything) about raising turkeys. A few quick questions:

    1) At what age is it typical to slaughter turkeys?

    2) Are there meat breeds, the turkey equivalent of Cornish Crosses? Laying breeds?

    3) Do turkeys lay eggs on a similar schedule to chickens?

    Thanks,
    Tim
     
  2. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 28, 2009
    Geronimo Oklahoma
    There are much better authorities on here than I, but from my limited experience...

    1. 4 or 5 months for commercial breeds, 6 to 8 months for heritage.

    2. Yes, only better. Broad Breasted Whites and BB Bronze are the fast growing, huge turkey breeds used by commercial establishments. They are better in that they are not hybrids but regular breeds, and thus breed true, if they can breed. Which usually they can't due to size by the time they are old enough to breed. However, it does happen, and you could always AI. The feed to meat ratio is even better in these birds than it is in the Cornish X, from what I understand.

    3. Turkeys shut down egg production completely in cold weather.

    (Now to hear from the experts to see how much I got wrong.)
     
  3. TimG

    TimG Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    Maine
    Quote:I asked about slaughter age in part because a local acquaintance has suggested she cannot get them late enough in the year to grow them for Thanksgiving. She gets hers on August 1st and seems to think that the last month or so is a lot of feed for very little growth. That's just short of 4 months, something like 16 weeks.

    The turkey that I got from her was 22 pounds (dressed weight) and I know that she had one that was 29 pounds.

    I don't know what is typical, but I would think that many people would want a smaller turkey for Thanksgiving.
     
  4. pdpatch

    pdpatch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 5, 2008
    Hastings, Nebraska
    for item two, The Great White is the main type bred for commercial use today. Before that was the Broad Breasted Bronze which is the second type grown by the small flock owners. As you go back in time just about every type of Turkey today was a commercial variety at one time. A double breasted turkey could be 20 pound in 16 weeks, Our Great Whites males were 28 pounds dressed at 20 weeks.

    Yes people do want smaller turkeys, in that case they get different variety turkeys to raise. This year we raised Spanish Blacks we got in May and the largest male was around 16 pound dressed when we butchered.

    Turkeys can lay eggs during two periods, in the spring and the fall, Fall egg laying is not common but does happen. Spring egg laying can start in January for some types and end around July for others.

    It sounds like the lady you got your turkeys from doesn't want to grow any type but what she is doing now. She want to do it fast and get it over with.

    Tom
     
  5. TimG

    TimG Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    Maine
    I wondered if she wasn't doing the turkey equivalent of keeping a Cornish Cross until it was 16 weeks. It was my idea that she should either get the turkeys later in the year (which would require a different source) or get a slower growing breed in order to avoid the last month which she perceives as LOTS of feed ($) for little return.

    It seems strange to me that the local source would not have turkeys after August 1st if the typical grow out period would end weeks before Thanksgiving -- I imagine most growers are looking at a Thanksgiving market. So, I'm trying to fill in the pieces as best I can.
     
  6. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 28, 2009
    Geronimo Oklahoma
    I don't know if it was just perception, since I didn't test it, but it seemed as though my BB Whites I raised this year took more feed to a pound of gain as they grew larger (the largest weighed 50 lbs at slaughter time). Which makes sense. At some point, you are giving them a lot of feed just to maintain the muscle they have, let alone put on more.

    I think if you don't grow them so large, you won't have this problem.

    But then I won't anyway, since my meat turkey of choice is now the Bourbon Red, with toms topping out at 35 pounds.
     
  7. Brunty_Farms

    Brunty_Farms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 29, 2007
    Ohio
    You can get poults year round if you purchase from a commercial hatchery which is not easy to do. I get turkeys as early as March and as late as september.

    In order to get varied sizes you have to order later for a smaller and earlier for a larger.
     
  8. TarzantheChickenMan

    TarzantheChickenMan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 1, 2009
    Guthrie, MN
    I usually get my poults in the middle of july. i try to butcher them early to mid November if i pre sell them so people have time to pick them up. other wise i butcher the ones we are gonna eat just a few days before thanksgiving
     
  9. TimG

    TimG Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    Maine
    Do you ration their feed or is it all-they-can-eat all-the-time?
     
  10. Brunty_Farms

    Brunty_Farms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    All they can eat for about 6 weeks then the lights go out and they are on normal daylight hours. If not you will have 50 lb turkeys for thanksgiving.
     

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