Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Raising Heritage Breed Turkeys

We have raised heritage breed turkeys almost since the beginning (March 2003) on our tiny farmstead. These birds are really lovely and the bottom line, supported by The Heritage Turkey Foundation, is that the survival and success of their individual breeds depends on individuals such as ourselves raising them -not just as pets but as food. My son was the initiator of our turkey raising but it later became my project. We raised Bourbon Red turkeys the first few years.....

...and Royal Palm turkeys the past few. Both breeds are very beautiful, fun to raise, good layers and decent brooders. And delicious -I cannot convey in words the quality eating that is a heritage breed, farm-raised turkey on the plate. For all their large size, turkeys are delicate creatures, prone to illness and injuries and you have to be careful in housing and handling them. Last spring during one of the coyote assaults, we lost one of the females of our breeding trio, leaving just this pair.

I moved the two indoors for protection -safe, but no way to permanently raise these creatures. With both females laying dependably, I had collected their eggs to incubate, but the hatch was not successful. When my sister-in-law, Gretchen asked if I'd have any extras from our presumed meat production hatching, I decided to move my remaining pair to her place and last weekend they were transported there. Hopefully, they'll have a better chance of survival, and poult production will be a success. With both the geese trio (another coyote casualty) and the turkeys gone, it is rather quiet here. After several years with turkey sounds being a part of the hum of our daily lives, we now have the silence of the turkeys. No peeping poults, no strutting of the males, no thrumming, no gobbling. Next spring we will get some poults (and goslings) to raise, but for now, surprisingly, I miss their turkey sounds.

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