Monday, November 22, 2010

Raising Turkins

Back in August, we decided to order some turkeys from McMurry Hatchery. Much to my surprise, you have to order at least 15 turkeys per order. Since we only wanted one for our own use, I decide to order the smallest quantity, raise them and sell what we did not want. Good idea, right?  By the time I got my act together, most of the turkey choices were gone and we were stuck with some fancy turkeys at $10 per chick. I had raised turkeys in the past, but had bought the birds when they where already four weeks old. This time we were getting chicks. Well, turkeys are finicky and like to die off in a quick way. At $10 a pop, that was a big concern for me. True to form, those little peeps put me through the ringer and four of them died within a week of arrival. All I could do was see the dollars jumping out of my wallet. The rest of the birds did settle in and I was able to move the eleven remaining ones out to the turkey yard. There they roamed, doing what turkeys do, which is not much. My past turkeys had been fed a  "game" bird feed, that allowed the birds to achieve good weight. Those birds  reached arm aching weights of over twenty-five pounds per turkey. I fed these turkeys the same type of feed.  We lost another turkey at week six.  Some animal came underneath their wooden slated hutch and killed and ate the turkey through the slat spaces. I found the turkey carcass, still inside the chicken wired run.  Now that is a predator! About three weeks ago, we advertised the turkeys, giving approximate weights. It is REALLY hard to  judge the weight of a turkey. I had eye balled  the turkey's and they seemed a little light in the feathers. Big mistake eye balling a turkey. You need to grab a turkey, lift it up and gain a true sense of its weight. Anyway, we had orders placed on all ten and went  about processing the  birds. Turkey's are pretty much the same as chickens when processing, except for a few very important differences. First, they have huge wing spans(when compared to a chicken) and can really hurt you if one of their wings catch you in the eye. I always use safety glasses when killing turkey's. Second, they can get pretty dang big, which requires a large enough scalding pot. Third, when pulling out the guts of a turkey, be very careful with their gall bladder. The green sack has a very nasty habit of breaking open. Not nice! So we went about processing our eleven turkey's and as we went along, we could not help but notice how small our birds looked. I would not allow myself to give it too much thought. Never a good idea to get really pissed off why working a boning knife with turkey fat all over your hands. When the processing was finished, we then set about weighing the birds. This is when deep turkey depression hit. There on the digital scale sat the weight of 7 pounds on our largest bird. How could this be? These were to be Thanksgiving Turkey's. The proud center piece of a festive table. How would it look having this little  runt of a bird sitting center stage? I could just imagine the shear embarrassment of the cook. Not to worry, everyone that ordered our little turkins(chickens pretending to be turkeys)  went out and bought a real turkey. They were  kind enough to also buy ours with the promise that they would cook them at a less important occasion. We either went wrong with they type of feed(too low a protein percent) or the bird we got were just slow growers.

1 comment:

  1. Oh it's a shame that there aren't pictures to see turkeys. So, where is the great photographer gone ;) ?