Turkeys on the Homestead
Because we have a farm that is similar to the old time farm of yester-year, we just had to raise a few heritage turkey's. You know the kind of farm that was common back in the day, before people were so concerned about acquiring cheap food, where they don't care how it was raised? The kind of farm where the farmer raised an assortment of farm animals to put food on the table for their own family? Could it be, that I am thinking of Old MacDonald's farm? :)
I really do like my running water and my electricity so I am not saying that farms should have outhouses and have to fetch water at the pump, I just like raising the best food possible for my family, and I am happy to be able to do that with electric fences and a four-wheeler. I realize that the farm's of yester-year were without a lot of today's conveniences. I have to say, if you are raising your own food and are living off-grid and tough as nails, I think you are totally amazing and cool! I would like to come visit you, as long as you make me coffee!
Our turkey breed of choice has been the Midget Whites because-
1. They are a heritage breed. They can reproduce all by themselves. That's a good thing!
2. They are smaller in size. They are larger than a chicken but smaller than the large turkey breeds. They are easier to harvest and they fit better in the freezer. An adult tom weighs 18-20 pounds and hens about 10-12 pounds.
3. They win taste tests! We had read a few times, that they had beat out the other heritage breeds when it came to flavor. I have never been disappointed when I have sat down to eat a turkey dinner from a bird that we raised!
Every spring, we hatch out some of the eggs to have new turkey babies. We raise 7-10 turkey poults to harvest that fall. Sometimes we let a broody turkey hen hatch some babies out, and sometimes we put them in the incubator. I would much rather have a mama hen raise them, otherwise I have to brood them and watch over them. It just depends if a hen goes broody at the right time, and if she stays broody as she sits on her eggs.
It takes about 7 months to raise a Heritage turkey for the right size. I know hybrids take less time to grow out, but I want my own reproducing flock. Hybrids aren't able to reproduce themselves and having to order turkey poults every spring is not my cup of tea!
Here is a little background info on this breed. Midget Whites were developed in the 1960's because there was some thought that a smaller breed of turkey needed to be developed. Unfortunately, that was not the case because the big turkey farms came into popularity. Just a few individuals have kept this breed from becoming extinct. Now in recent years the Midget White breed keeps getting more popular as more and more people are starting to raise their own food. A smaller breed of turkey is just perfect to add to your homestead!
And now, I think it is time to thaw a frozen turkey for the table!