25 pounds - that's a dressed weight not live weight turkey.
You see each year we decide on a couple of farm "experiments". Some times it's a new vegetable or a new gardening technique this year it was a turkey "tractor".
In the spring, we bought 6 "test" turkeys. Broad-breasted Whites were available at the mill where we have our poultry feed custom ground. Ok. So far so good.
We'd been told all sorts of horror stories about raising turkeys: they die for no reason, they'll drown in a rain storm standing there with their mouths open, you'll never be able to raise them on pasture and on and on and on. . .
So we decided we would treat the turkeys much as we have our pastured broilers. We kept them in the brooder an extra week and then moved 6 turkeys to a tractor cage in the pasture. So far so good.
We moved them daily and 6 turkeys ate and grew all summer. Brian enjoyed the turkeys immensely. He would gobble at them and they would "talk" back to him. They didn't eat all that much feed but foraged very effectively.
At 16 weeks we brought 6 turkeys in to butcher just like the books we had read said to do. I had to work that weekend. Brian said, "It's ok, honey. There's only 6 of them I can do it by myself - no problem!"
Butchering day:That's when Brian realized he had a problem. The toms were huge and the hens weren't much smaller!
He soon discovered that trying to scald a 40 lb bird was like trying to dead lift a wet 50 pound bag of feed over and over.... that's really work!! Brian could barely get the job done. Next it went to the plucker. We have a tub plucker. The bottom plate is supposed to turn. The turkey was so heavy it wouldn't turn fast enough to pluck.
Time to regroup. He ended up plucking all six birds by hand.
The largest tom dressed out to almost 27 pounds with the smallest hen at 15 pounds. So what are we going to do with all that turkey? We wondered that too for a little while.
Well the lord works in mysterious ways. The next morning my sister-in-law called with big news: my nephew is getting married and he wants to have a "Parker style" pitch in for his wedding reception complete with turkey.
Well, we gave them 5 turkeys for a pre-wedding present on the spot. We saved the largest tom. Now we are anxiously waiting for Thanksgiving day to taste how our experiment turned out. I'll let you know.
What did we learn from our experiment? 1. Turkeys are enjoyable to raise. 2. Smaller birds would be better. Maybe midget whites. 3. Everything works out for the best in the end.
We're looking forward to raising turkeys next summer.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Posted by Dot and Brian
@ 02:21 PM EST