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Once you raise a fresh turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner you will never go back to tasteless frozen turkeys. Turkeys are a fun interesting bird to raise. They are colorful, curious and often protective of the homestead. Turkeys make an excellent 4-H project for kids, they can raise small poults to a 15 to 50 lb bird in one summer. Poults can be bought at feed stores in most areas in the spring. Mail order catalogs also sell them but unless you order the minimum amount of 15 to 25 they can't ship them safely.

Royal Palm Turkeys

Royal Palm Turkeys are a medium sized turkey. Hens will weigh about 14-16 lbs. and Toms will weigh about 20-22 lbs. They are a colorful bird with their black highlighting on white feathers. Many were raised commercially before the Broad Breasted Bronze and White were developed because they have an efficient feed conversion and white pin feathers. Now they are somewhat rare and only raised on small farms.

The hens will frequently turn broody and hatch young, many other breeds no longer do this. Young poults are white in color until about 2 months old, when they start to get their black feathers. Hens will start laying eggs at about 1 year, and will lay about 50 large pointed cream eggs with brown speckles.

Broad Breasted White Turkeys

Broad Breasted White Turkeys were developed in the early 50's by crossing the Broad Breasted Bronze with the White Holland. The dark-colored pinfeathers of the Bronze, a disadvantage in dressing a bird, has led to the white becoming the most important commercially raised turkey. The Broad Breasted White has a good growth rate, conformation and excellent feed conversion, making it a desirable turkey for both large and small operations.

We raise Broad Breasted White Turkeys every year for Thanksgiving. Our turkeys are brooded in a warm, draft free, dry area until they are about 6 weeks and feathered out. Then they are moved to a free range area, fenced in by electric fencing to keep out predators. The temporary fencing can be moved when needed to keep the birds on clean dry land and a portable shelter provides them with dry shelter when needed. Turkeys love to scratch and eat grass and insects, and the larger area prevents them from picking on each other.

Supplemented with feed, plenty of fresh water and free choice milk the birds are ready for Thanksgiving dinner by November. Last year our June poults averaged 37 lbs. with the largest being 48.5 lbs.

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