The turkeys were processed on Tuesday - WOW! I am not sure we could have done this by ourselves. The money paid to the local mobile poultry processor (ie a guy with a trailer and all the equipment) was well worth it! The key to processing a bird is definitely the hot water scalder and plucker - neither we have access to. Our broad breasted white (BBW) hens ranged from 24-26 lbs and the BBW toms from 32-43 lbs. We have found the BBW to be just too big for most families today. We are moving to Heritage breeds next year - Narragansett and Holland Whites. These birds range around 10 lb hens and 18 lb toms. This seems to be the desired size for families today. But heritage breed turkeys grow slower than BBWs. To make up for this "disadvantage", heritage breeds taste better, free range for food better, will breed naturally and have lots of various color varieties. If you are a small turkey grower, we would strongly recommend that you look into these birds. We will be purchasing a breeding pair next week to be the "Mom and Dad" for our new poults in the spring. We are looking to buy and hatch our poults next year and beyond.
All of the time, effort, money and work paid off when I hand delivered our first hen to our neighbor minutes after coming out of the ice bath and bagged. Her family was having Thanksgiving dinner a few days early. We are glad we were able to work out an early delivery to her frig. Our birds are now in our frig awaiting other neighbors that have birds reserved. We actually over sold our birds a bit and chipped into the birds reserved for our table....! But, at the end of the season we were able to provide fresh, local turkeys for the people we care about - our neighbors. Next year as we grow, I guess we will expand our definition of a neighbor....grin.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.
John & Penny