Looking to offset next year’s Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, by raising your own turkey rather than run the risk of not finding what you’re looking for in store each year? Well, we have the answer for you. First will be picking out the breed of turkey that works best for the size you’re hoping to serve on the table later in the year. The top three recommended to choose from are the:
- 1. The Broad-Breasted Bronze (BBB) is the largest variety of turkey. The average adult body weight is 35 pounds for toms and 19 pounds for hens. Some strains weigh as much as 50 pounds. Turkeys of this variety are best when slaughtered between 22 and 24 weeks of age.
- 2. The Broad-Breasted Large White (BBLW) is the most popular turkey variety in Alaska. The average adult body weight is 32 pounds for toms and 18 pounds for hens. The hens grow rapidly in the early stages of development, so they are often slaughtered at 12 weeks to produce fryer-roasters of 7 to 8 pounds. Males are usually slaughtered at about 24 weeks of age.
- 3. The average weight of the Beltsville Small White (BSW) adult is 20 pounds for toms and 11 pounds for hens. They are best slaughtered at 16 weeks of age to produce dressed-out hens of 6 pounds and toms of 10 pounds.
Turkey’s are a larger bird and often need more room than your chickens so be prepared to have space, adequate water, shelter, and feed available. While each turkey breed can differ slightly the rough conversion for feed is 2.5lbs to gain 1lbs of meat. For a Heritage breed the scale is much higher of 5.2lbs of feed to create 1lbs of meat on the turkey. It is vital to use a high protein feed and to avoid using chicken feed at all costs. One of the main struggles for raising turkeys in the higher temperatures will be heat to keep their pen warm as for the first few weeks they will need temperatures as high as 90⁰F while they gain their initial weight and full feathers.
Turkeys can be raised on a larger scale to look as a business opportunity, because once initial set up is done the daily work for about 500 turkeys is less than 1.6hrs per day. If you are interested in looking into the set up and raising option of turkeys the link provided below is a great place to start for an Alaskan specific resource.