Our Heritage Turkeys
All domesticated turkeys descend from wild turkeys indigenous to North and South America. They are the quintessential American poultry. For centuries people have raised turkeys for food and for the joy of having them.
Many different varieties have been developed to fit different purposes. Turkeys were selected for productivity and for specific color patterns to show off the bird’s beauty. The American Poultry Association (APA) lists eight varieties of turkeys in its Standard of Perfection. Most were accepted into the Standard in the last half of the 19th century, with a few more recent additions. They are Black, Bronze, Narragansett, White Holland, Slate, Bourbon Red, Beltsville Small White, and Royal Palm. The Livestock Conservancy also recognizes other naturally mating color varieties that have not been accepted into the APA Standard, such as the Jersey Buff, Midget White, and others. All of these varieties are Heritage Turkeys.
Why Is Heritage Better then Commercial?
Taste: The Heritage Turkey store most of its fat in the skin. As a result, Heritage Turkeys cook with a much richer and moist taste. They also have had more time to develop more muscles and the ability to Fly! Making a better source of protein. Once you have cooked you amazing bird, you will notice that you get more quality meat a bigger Commercial store-bought bird. Plus it will be something the family will be talking about for years.
Quality: Many heritage breeds take allot of pride in how well they breed their turkeys. Making them some of the must sought after birds in the Turkey world. Most breeders have been breeding these breed for generations. The result is a very healthy line of Turkeys that can be traced back over 200yrs.
Today We take pride in the love and care our Turkeys get from hatch to their big day. Being able to live a full and happy life as a turkey. They also have a great job on the Homestead, Eating bugs and ticks to keep our beautiful horses safe.
Health: Hormones & Antibiotics. No hormones are approved for use in turkeys of any kind. Heritage turkeys are raised antibiotic-free, whereas conventionally raised turkeys are given antibiotics throughout their lives. However, the USDA requires a mandatory pre-slaughter antibiotic withdrawal period and has set a strict legal limit for antibiotic residues that they say is well below what could potentially be harmful to humans. Inspectors are continually doing spot checks to ensure compliance.
The Turkeys are Free-Range! They have spent their entire lives eating bugs and grass to their hearts content. With available Grain for minerals, and fresh water always available.
Heritage turkeys are defined by the historic, range-based production system in which they are raised. Turkeys must meet all of the following criteria to qualify as a Heritage turkey:
- Naturally mating: the Heritage Turkey must be reproduced and genetically maintained through natural mating, with expected fertility rates of 70-80%. This means that turkeys marketed as “heritage” must be the result of naturally mating pairs of both grandparent and parent stock.
- Long productive outdoor lifespan: the Heritage Turkey must have a long productive lifespan. Breeding hens are commonly productive for 5-7 years and breeding toms for 3-5 years. The Heritage Turkey must also have a genetic ability to withstand the environmental rigors of outdoor production systems.
- Slow growth rate: the Heritage Turkey must have a slow to moderate rate of growth. Today’s heritage turkeys reach a marketable weight in about 28 weeks, giving the birds time to develop a strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass. This growth rate is identical to that of the commercial varieties of the first half of the 20th century.