This year I decided to get both kinds of turkeys available: broad breasted white and broad breasted bronze. The white turkeys are your garden variety turkey that is in the stores at thanksgiving. The broad breasted bronze are direct descendants of a wild turkey and have not been tinkered with the way the whites have by humans. Consequently, they grow at a much slower rate than the white turkeys do and you can see the size differential in the photos. The garden variety turkey will be ready to butcher at least one month or more earlier than the broad breasted bronze turkeys.
Because my Cornish Cross chickens have not grown at the rate that the supplier (and the websites I read) said they would, I’ve not yet moved the turkeys from the ‘nursery barn’ to the meat bird barn. That is still occupied by the weight watching Cornish Crosses! I do plan to butcher some of the chickens this week and see what they are actually weighing in at. I am hoping they surprise me and are at four pounds. I would like to get the turkeys out of the nursery and into the meat raising coop as soon as possible. For one thing, the nursery is too small to take them to full size and not ventilated well enough and already it is on the too warm side at night.
The turkeys are enjoying themselves in spite of their warm quarters as they have free range access to the whole farm by day. Like me, one of their favourite things is cherries and I often find them under the cherry trees in search of windfall or tearing around the yard with the sumptuous red ball in their beak in search of a quiet place away from the others to saver it. We are presently putting an addition on to the house to accommodate a much needed (and long desired) wood stove and the turkeys fancy themselves carpenters. Each morning I find them hanging around the chop saw and providing the builder with suggestions and feedback. He’s convinced he’s learning to speak ‘turkey’ and has grown quite fond of them. I can hear them talking to him and every now and then he talks back.
One of the white turkeys is a runt. She is less than half the size of the others and hasn’t grown since she was about two-three weeks old. She doesn’t have an impacted crop or any other obvious reason for her lack of girth; she is simply stunted. I have watched her closely to make sure she is eating and passing poop (in farming, it is all about poop: making it, passing it, hauling it, clearing it, composting it, top dressing it, and so on) and all seems normal in the digestive areana. I have already started to ponder what I will do with her. I really don’t have the room to keep Lil’ Miss Runty-Pants in the lifestyle she’s grown accustomed to forever, and yet she’s by no means going to make a good ‘market’ bird–I may have to try to pass her off as a chicken!