Phew! What a whirlwind! I’m pretty glad ‘Turkey Time” is over! We are so happy to be able to provide the centerpiece to many Thanksgiving feasts…one of our turkeys even flew to New York this year!
After turkey season is over, Ryan and I always like to take a bit and do a ‘re-cap’ of how it all went and what to change.
Turkeys are similar enough to chickens that it doesnt change our process too much…they do require more management though!
Turkeys actually forget to drink…I know, right?! And water is critical at all times, but especially when the poults first arrive on the farm. If they don’t start drinking right away, they perish quickly. So, we have to have a special watering bar with silver nipple drinkers that attract their attention. They peck at the shiny object and whala! Water!
On the converse…we need to be very careful that the chicks don’t get wet…plenty of warm lights for them to dry off. And we check on them every 20-30 minutes during the first day.
See what I mean about management??
In the early weeks, we feed the turkey poults a specially formulated feed that we have shipped in from Oregon. We’ve tried many other feed mixes…but, we’ve had the best success with this mix. As the poults get older, we can feed them the broiler feed which makes life a bit easier.
The turkeys finish out their lives in the pasture pens like the broilers…they actually move pretty easy, sometimes easier than the broilers!
Processing is pretty similar…just a change out to larger equipment.
So, changes for next year…
Ryan and I made some notes about things we want to change for 2019 turkeys (after we came around from WE ARENT DOING TURKEYS AGAIN!!). We decided the pick-up windows need to be shorter…a 3 hour window is WAY to long. Most of the time we have the bulk of the pick up in the first 20 minutes and then spent the next 2.5 hours waiting for 1-2 people.
We’re also planning to raise Broad Breasted Whites instead of Broad Breasted Bronze…we think the white feathers will make plucking easier and not leave the unsightly dark pigments in some of the skin. It’s the same breed of bird, just a white feather instead of brown.
A few other minor changes; pick-up locations, special options/cuts and a different feeding schedule round out some of the other options.
All in all, we’re pretty happy with raising turkeys and being one of the only pasture raised turkey raisers in the county makes it an addition to the farm we cant really pass up! We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!