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Author Topic: Thanksgiving turkeys!  (Read 2502 times)
HomeBru
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« on: November 08, 2008, 08:01:08 AM »

We tried turkeys for the first time this year and are they a HOOT! I got to researching heritage breeds and couldn't make up my mind so I just ordered one of the "whatever we have lots of" bargains from a hatchery and ended up with fifteen Blue Slate poults. We'll be keeping a tom and two or three hens and hope they'll become good parents, the rest are going to friends and family for Thanksgiving dinners...


Here's one of the boys struttin' his stuff for the camera.


They will follow you around the yard which is funny most of the time, but can get a bit disturbing...


How's this for beauty!?!
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asprince
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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2008, 08:16:53 AM »

They look delicious! Will you be dong the slaughtering? 

Steve
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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2008, 10:38:20 AM »

They are beautiful!  I love the way their heads/wattles/snoods change colors, shapes & size.  They are surprisingly friendly, ours followed us & sat in your lap.  J
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2008, 02:15:57 PM »

They look delicious! Will you be dong the slaughtering? 

Steve

Yep, this'll be a first for us! We've raised and slaughtered chickens for years so the mechanics are okay, it's just going to be interesting dealing with the size...

We actually have a group of kids from our home school co-op coming over on Monday to "see where their Thanksgiving dinner comes from" and participate in the butchering and processing of a turkey. That will be interesting.

J-
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asprince
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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2008, 05:05:18 PM »

Just remind them to "NEVER NAME YOUR FOOD". When the slaughteree has a name the process takes on a new meaning for the children.

Steve 
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Cindi
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« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2008, 09:36:02 PM »

J-, very beautiful.  We raise heritage turkeys here too.  I have a bronze heritage tom, a bronzeX hen, her and his daughter, which looks much like the mother, and three poults, which are about 4 months old now.  The poults are two females and one tom, the tom we will eat and the grey hen we will eat too, the black one we will keep for breeding. 

I know the antics of the turkeys that you speak about.  My tom is so nosey he cannot stand it when he cannot see me and always comes to check out what I am up to.  I really love to raise turkeys, they are a blast, with such wonderful personalities and antics.  Have fun with those birds!!!  Have a most wonderful and awesome life and day, great health.  Cindi
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2008, 10:14:40 PM »

WOW!!!
 Ive never seen a turkey like that before! I've seen Richard(Cindis turkey) and he's a DANDY!!
 I'd like to get some but how big a pen do I need? Will they fly out if not covered? If they do, my dogs will get 'em..Will they scratch all the dirt away and get underneath the fence like my chickens did sometimes?
 Ive been thinking Peacocks as of lately, but I'm certain they need tons of room to make their tales big and not get worn off from dragging it around. I also think they will fly out and the dogs will get them too.
your friend,
john
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« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2008, 10:32:37 PM »

John, peafowl are pretty good fliers. I've seen them fly to the top of huge barns and into trees. They do need some room for the tail, although they do shed the feathers at the end of the season.  I don't know about domestic turkeys, you may need to cover the pen or make it tell enough so they have trouble having room to clear it.  Cindi will have more ideas as she has em! They are not the scratchers chix are.  At least turkeys can be used for dinner..peafowl can be eaten I'm sure but would make a more expensive meal!    J
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« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2008, 10:46:21 PM »

 Ok thanks for the info!
 I bet everybody was wondering what a "Peableep" was, huh?
Now you know! grin
 THAT was FUNNY!!!! grin
your friend,
john
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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2008, 07:12:17 AM »

How big can turkeys like this get, without (I assume) the standard commercial feed and treatments(?).

Nice picture.

Killing them...thats the problem with raising rabbits (another discussion) that has some family members, suggesting I drop the whole idea. (Funny thing is.... they will be scarfing down that bacon soon this morning and have no problems...  grin  )
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« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2008, 10:21:18 AM »

Bjornbee.  The heritage turkey are not as big as the commercial double breasted ones, but they are a pretty large critter, regardless.  I think that it depends on the breed of the heritage, there are quite a few breeds.  The heritage black, bronze and the Bourdon red are the largest of the heritage breed.  No clue how big they actually get, but pretty big.  The double breasted Bronze heritage are big too, but they have an inability to mate naturally and are usually artificially inseminated.  Or I have also heard that with the double breasted bronze, they put a saddle on the hens for mating purposes.  I do not have the double breasted bronze, no desire to have that.

John, my Richard can fly up onto a fence, things like that, but cannot fly away.  The hens can fly up on things too, like the roof of the chickenbarns, they love to fly up, but they don't fly away.  They know they have a good thing happening here.  Their yards to ramble in are so big that they probably just don't have any reason to want to fly, they can walk for hours and still find some new grass to graze on or bugs to eat.

I'll show you all a picture of Richard and some hens, he is one magnificent bird and always makes me watch him because he is so interesting.  I think the average weight of a bronze is between 15-25 pounds, they take a long time to mature.  Approximately 28 weeks, the commercial broad breasted turkey takes only a couple of months (18 weeks).  The heritage turkeys are superior in every way to the commercial birds, especially in the ratio of breast to thigh meat, as it is more even.  It is a lean turkey, trust me, I know....

I copied this from a website that I visited

"According the Local Harvest website, White Broad Breast turkey is generally cooked/roasted  at 325 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 160-180 degrees. The breast is often tented with foil so it doesn't dry out while waiting for the dark meat to finish cooking. Not so with a free-range Heritage turkey, whose breast to thigh meat ratio is closer. If the breast in tented, it should be with buttered or oiled parchment paper so the breast skin does not steam and the cover should be removed 1/2 hour prior to the end of cooking. Butter, olive oil and herbs can be rubbed under the skin of the breast to increase the fat content.  Due to the decreased fat and size, this turkey should be cooked at  425-450 degrees until the internal temperature  reaches 140- 150 degrees* (the thought being that the turkeys are far healthier to begin with and assumed processed under closer supervision so they don't need to be cooked as high) to retain moistness in the lower fat bird."  This is the site if anyone is interested in reading some cool stuff:

http://www.dcfoodies.com/2007/11/lets-talk-turke.html

Learning how to raise turkeys has been quite an ordeal, and it has not been an easy task. The mortality rate, probably mostly through mistakes of my own has been quite high.  The first clutch of poults only 4 of 14 ended up surviving past two months old, the second clutch only 3 of 7 managed to get past three months.  I realize some mistakes I have made and one has to be very careful with these little dudes when they are young, they are not overly bright.



Have a most wonderful and awesome life and day, love and live life, great health.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2008, 10:44:01 AM »

When I was young I had a pet turkey it was white and weighted 42 pounds it hated every body but me nobody could get between me and him and if you did he would attack. He was the best watch dog/turkey I ever had. One day he chased the neighbor back home. The next day I found him dead I think she killed him with poison.
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« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2008, 10:27:19 PM »

Oh Irwin, that makes my blood boil and at the same time sickens my heart.  In my mind's eye, I picture this young little man, that turkey by his side (I know about the devotion of a turkey, I had a turkey hen that befriended me and tried to protect me from a nasty Moscovy drake, by the name of Whoppo).  This dear turkey that only this young man could be a friend to.  He must have adored you.  A nieghbour comes along, should not have been there at your place anyways, I would imagine -- and this poor dude that loved you to the end of time itself, wound up dead.  How dare she.... I don't have a doubt in my mind that this nieghbour did have that dirty hand in this nasty and hideous deed.   I can say no more....  I have absolutely no sorrow for the bad karma to that person, that I know some day will come.  These kinds of things bring out the worst in me.  As you probably have picked up on  angry angry angry  But, still, have that most wonderful day, we should all love this life that we all live, love and share.  Cindi.  Forgive, that is one of the hardest rules of life that I have such a hard time with, but I am trying to improve, all the time.....
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2008, 02:38:41 PM »

Cindi, we discovered how dumb the poults are as well once we started them outside! We spent the beginning of most rainstorms rounding up the kids and getting them locked into shelter! Even though all the experts warn not to raise chickens and turkeys together, this first batch had not problems, the only one we lost was a poult that thought the dog was someone to play with...

Our will fly over the 5' fence with no effort and for some reason won't fly back in! They'll run along the fence trying to get in but for some reason can't figure out how! Our lab will get ahold of the turkeys if they get within his territory, but he's also on a radio fence and I have the wire strung along the poultry yard. Usually, they fly into the garden and pick bugs.

They LOVE to fly up high to roost and I've seen them on the kids' swingset, the chicken house, in the trees as well as along the fence.

J-
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HomeBru
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« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2008, 06:26:13 PM »

The home school turkey hunt was a riot! We had seven different families represented (besides our own) and everyone really enjoyed it! Since I'd never butchered a turkey before, I decided to cut the corner out of a feed sack and put the turkey in the sack with the head sticking out of the hole and then strung it up by it's feet and the sack, basically a fabric killing cone). A good sharp smack on the back of the head with a hammer handle did "the duty" and he bled out very nicely with little thrashing.

The kids (and parents) were impressed with how much easier it was to pluck after scalding and the anatomy lesson was very exciting for everyone. Two kids took feet home and one even claimed the esophagus! I did pull out most of the wing feathers before scalding so everyone got to take home at least one feather.

On Wednesday, the boys' cooking class at our home school co-op will be prepping the turkey as they would for a Thanksgiving dinner as well as bringing in and prepping their favorite thanksgiving side dishes and will then bring it to a family whose mother was severely injured in a car crash last week. Lots of life lessons learned

J-
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« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2008, 08:59:01 PM »



The kids (and parents) were impressed with how much easier it was to pluck after scalding and the anatomy lesson was very exciting for everyone. Two kids took feet home and one even claimed the esophagus! I did pull out most of the wing feathers before scalding so everyone got to take home at least one feather.
J-[/quote]

What a wonderful thing to do!  Kids are not near as "delicate" as many people think!  Did they notice they could pull the tendons in the feet to make them move?  We used to chase my sister around w/duck feet!  You can also take out the heart & lungs intact w/windpipe, lay em in a shallow dish or plate, put a straw in & see how the lungs inflate.  I did that (a duck) for science show & tell in the 3rd grade..surprisingly many kids thought I was weird.. huh rolleyes
The making & giving of the meal will be remembered forever with the kids, what great citizens you are helping to create, YAYS for you & your family!  Jody
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Sean Kelly
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« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2008, 10:30:44 PM »

I love this thread!  We hope to get a couple turkeys for next year.  It will be our first time so hearing how you guys did it was really helpful.  I've harvested chickens before when I was a kid and will never forget the process.  I wasn't grossed out and thought of it as part of life.  I think every kid should experience a bird harvest, will give them a better respect for life and death.

So is it okay to keep chickens and turkeys together?  I plan on getting chickens in the spring too (will need your help with this Poka-bee).

Sean Kelly
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« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2008, 08:12:20 AM »

I gave my mom a few (6) baby Ginny's (sp?) a couple years back. We thought it was neat to have them follow you around all day. Problem was, that after a couple months, if nobody was around on the farm, and they heard human voices from a distance, they would walk down to the next farm or house. So everyday when someone came home, there would be a message on the phone asking someone to come get the birds from their backyard or porch. You would walk down the road and call them and they would come running. But they just wanted human contact and went very far in trying to find it.

Are there any chickens (or turkeys) that seem to not have this problem? Or do you need to cage them all?
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« Reply #18 on: November 11, 2008, 10:47:10 AM »

So is it okay to keep chickens and turkeys together?  I plan on getting chickens in the spring too (will need your help with this Poka-bee).

Sean Kelly

Every old farm I have visited has had turkeys and chickens living together, but "the experts" warn not to. apparently the chickens can carry "blackhead disease" or Histomoniasis but are not as susceptible as the young turkeys are. since the protozoan can live for years in the soil, I'm reserving judgment before I pooh-pooh the experts... We'll see if I start loosing birds over the next few years. I am fairly confident that our "confined range" rearing builds a stronger immune system and helps the birds, but we'll see...

J-
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« Reply #19 on: November 11, 2008, 11:04:34 AM »

Homebru.  What a blast eh?  GEtting that turkey ready for the cooking of a great meal, the meat coming from a known source.  I love that.  I love that fact that I can raise most of my food right here on my farm.  The only thing I have to buy in the meat department is things other than ducks, chickens and turkeys, we also raise all our own vegetables.  It is that wonderful feeling that you know what has gone into the food on one's table -- and most of all, the love that goes into the raising and caring of these critters and the critters that grow up in the ground, hee, hee.

I know what you are saying about them flying over the fence.  Mine do that too, and yes, they run their guts out trying to get back through the fence, go figure that one.  They are pretty good about figuring out how to go back in through the gate when they see it open though, yeah!!!  Good for them.....

About raising turkeys and chickens together, I have also read those many warnings.  I reserve judgement here as well.  I raise them all in the same chickenyards, but I do have a separate night building for the turkeys.  I think that having these free range birds does bolster their immune system.  I do not use any medicated feed either.  I think that eating all the bugs, the grass foraging and so on, builds up strong birds.  I have people that come here and always comment highly on the condition of my birds, how they all look so healthy, yeah!!!  Must be doing something right.  I will continue to mingle turkeys and chickens and ducks, until I ever see an issue with those two diseases that you spoke of.  Have that great and most wonderful day and life, great health.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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