What should I feed my turkeys to get them fat and juicy??


9 Years
Jul 16, 2010
Mason, MI
I have BB whites, six of them. They are about 22 weeks old. We want to butcher a few for Christmas. What should we be feeding them to get the best flavor and tenderness?? They are getting huge on the 20% we were giving them. How often should I let them free range? Free choice? I want fatty birds.

Thank you

About 7% is what commercial turkeys are finished on.

At 22 weeks they do not have much time left if they have grown normally. If they are commercial strain turkeys they should weigh 42 lbs or more (toms) and 22 lbs (hens)
For the best tenderness, don't let them walk much or try to fly much, with BBB or great whites that's not hard to do. as far as taste we found that grasses and weeds is the best if they will eat it. You can also use fancy scratch, it's cracked corn and assorted seeds if they will eat it it's a good compromise for not being able to free range. Free ranging of 3 to4 hours a day will change the taste vs no free range. When a turkey gets fat they put layers of fat between the skin and muscle, the fat creates those dripping that are used for basting the turkey, this is where a lot of that extra flavor is at. Corn puts fat on, seeds, weeds, and seeds give it that different taste. You can use layer feed with a little turkey feed mixed in this can slow the growth a little.

Yesterday was butcher day here, butchering a large BBB tom is no fun. if they get their wings free and start flapping them there weight seems to double. If you scald before plucking the hot water adds weight also so you may need something to help get them out of the scalder. The big Tom's we didn't keep them whole since we have nothing that we can cook them in, we just took the breast meat, thighs and legs I guess there is about 10 or more pounds of meats for each tom. For those birds that we took the meat we did not remove there insides, just plucked feather on their legs and breast and then cut the meat off.

You also need to let the meat rest between the butcher and freezing or cooking if you don't the meat won't be tender. At least 24 hours is good 48 hours is better you can combine the marinating/brine soaking with the resting time. During this period you should try to keep then at a temperature of 34 degrees or close to it. since most refrigerators only go down to 37 this usually works.
I am finishing up my chicken coop and have my flock of Australorps arriving on the 21st. I am building a Turkey coop and run between the hog pin and chicken coop and this post is an eye opener. At 5 1/2 months Toms will be at 42 + pounds? I already have my order in for BB Turkeys next year but had no idea that they grew that fast.

I am not new to raising birds since we raised and bred all sorts of parrots, (had over 100 in the house at one time, keets, teils, lovebirds, pockets, and misc other parrots) but I am new to meat birds such as the chickens that I have coming and the Turkeys I have on order.

42 Pounds in 5 1/2 months is way over the top of anything I have ever even thought of when it came to Turkeys.
At 22 weeks. those birds should be fairly large, almost like 46 pounds and more. at 18 weeks, mine were 42.5, of course it depends on if you have the bronze or the whites. whites tend to get a little larger/require less time to get large. What we do to add fat, is a week or two before your butcher date, is to switch their food to Turkey Finisher. It should have a 18% protein, or around there. and have a larger fat content. also if you have been feeding them turkey starter/grower, its medicated to protect agianst coccidiosis. So, its always good to give them some withdrawl time from all medication, even if it doesn't require a withdrawl time.
I began raising turkeys to have healthy food for my table. I have a inflamatory disease. I need to avoid foods high in Omega 6 because it will make my pain flair. I wish I had grass to have grass feed turkeys. Grass feed animals are highier in Omega 3 because they eat seeds. Corn is often feed to fatten because of the high fat. But that defeats the whole purpose and makes your meat high in Omega 6, making it the same as store bought food. I think the type of fat you feed is something to think about if health is a concern.
Three genetics providers supply virtually all of the turkeys used in commercial production. They are not genetic lines that are recognized by the APA and listed in the Standard.
These type birds are generally available from Class B hatcheries and may or may not be described as Nicholas, Hybrid or BUTs.
I have seen commercial toms weigh 58 lbs at 22 weeks. This is, however, the high side of a 48 to 50 lb average. I hAve seen market show turkeys of the same breeding fed to 50 lbs at 20 weeks on special diets.
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