Thursday, January 23, 2014

Raising turkeys for Thanksgiving

Whether you're raising a turkey for your family, or hope to sell Thanksgiving turkeys this year, there are a few key ingredients from Dale, aka Turkeyman:

Plan ahead. Although you can dress a turkey any time after it reaches 10 lbs, most people want theirs closer to Thanksgiving Day. If you want to have a 20 lb bird for Thanksgiving get the Broad Breasted Whites or Bronze in June. Click here for the entry discussing turkey breeds. Usually the poults come straight run (half are toms, half are hens). In that case, you might want to butcher them a few weeks apart because the toms will get much bigger. 

If you are going to have someone else butcher them, it's best to make your appointment as early as possible.  With the smaller heritage breeds you will need to get them in March or April to get a 18 lb tom or a 10-12lb hen for Thanksgiving Day. Remember, an 18lb heritage turkey will not have nearly as much meat as a 18lb white or bronze. This is because the white and bronze are bred to be meat birds, and the heritage breeds are bred to be ornamental.

When cooking the turkey, keep an eye on the temperature as backyard turkeys tend to cook quicker than a store-bought bird.  The last thing you want to do is go to all the work of raising it and then over-cook it. 

As always, post questions in the comment section.