Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Last Friday the turkeys went to the processor. We have had them for about 16 weeks at that point and they grow fast and eat a lot. And they learn to fly early. For large birds they are anything but graceful and crash around. Like most birds they want the highest vantage point - in this case, the top of the partition of their enclosure in the barn.
At 16 weeks old the average weight of a bird is about 17 lbs with the toms being heavier. This year the largest bird was 21 pounds. Most people these days don't want huge turkeys or have huge families to feed so 16 or 17 pounds is the average weight with some smaller ones at 12 or 13 pounds occasionally.
The average bird eats about 60 pounds of feed to 16 weeks and costs of buying the poult,heat, light, sawdust, water and processing all add up before they are ever sold. The profit isn't huge - about $10 per bird, more if it is a larger bird. But the fresh free range turkey is far superior than the usually processed frozen ones. Even after freezing, the bird will not have changed texture or flavour or be dry and tasteless. Simply because nothing is done to them to change, preserve or alter them further.
Yes, I always feel a little guilty when they go to the processor. But it is their purpose in life, or I've come to terms with it and can know that they have had the best life that can be provided. They have space, food, water, clean bedding and security - even music and entertainment - note their red ball in the photo...yes turkeys like to play with a ball.