Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lessons Learned from our black Spanish Turkey

We raised and processed our heritage turkey as if it was a commercial breed. This was a mistake. Heritage breeds take longer to raise than commercial breeds. Last year, we let our commercial breeds grow a little more after they reached commercial size, and they tasted tested delicious. We did the same with our broilers, with the same results. With the Heritage turkey, we actually processed him before it reached full size, because I didn't realize it would take longer. We also bought it late in the season, because we were too busy. Next year, we will have to be better organized. Heritage turkeys take 8-9 months to reach maturity.
I would like to try White Midget turkeys next year. If possible, we will keep a tom and two hens for breeding. The white midget takes 32 weeks to grow to maturity, so for thanksgiving, we need to get the poults early to mid April at the latest. At the end of its life, it is good to set the turkey in a small pen for 2 weeks before processing to reduce exercize, which makes the meat tender. High carbohydrate feed also makes it build up some fat.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Black Spanish Turkey

This past Thanksgiving, we ate our Black Spanish Turkey tom. We have had that turkey for about 6 months, and we became attached to him. Since he learned how to fly, every night, he would roost on the upper deck railing, so that he could see us through the window. When during the day I would go in the field, he would follow me like a dog. Pretty interesting bird. Then came Thanksgiving. So we processed it, and it was hard. Lots of mixed feelings. Now it is eaten, and we are thinking of what to do next year. Certainly, more than one turkey, so we don't get attached. Probably a different breed, the Black Spanish don't taste better than the Bronze. We may try the Bourbon Red.
Here are pictures of our Black Spanish tom: