Monday, March 9, 2009

Bourbon red turkeys

The bourbon red turkeys have been popular with the livestock thieves this year. Maybe they read the reviews that said that bourbon reds were the tastiest heritage breed, or maybe they were just the slowest ones, but I've lost 6 toms and 7 hens. So I've penned the remaining bourbon reds far away from the road, and was happy to see them start laying today.

The hens weigh about 15 pounds and the toms around 20. They're pretty hearty and survive well here. When I started I purchased poults of 17 different turkey varieties. I've now settled on 7 varieties that I raise. For my farm, the eastern wild turkeys are the easiest to raise -- they pretty much fend for themselves and are excellent at foraging. In fact, they tend to teach the other turkeys how to eat blackberries and strip the seeds off the top of grass stems.

The bourbon reds are somewhere in the middle. They're fairly intelligent (for a turkey), docile birds with a nice color pattern. They're calm in disposition and are curious. The one thing about bourbon red turkeys is that they usually hate Andrea. Not sure why, but every year there's been two or three hens that have decided that Andrea should be chased, and they do chase her.


Anonymous said...

"fairly intelligent (for a turkey)" Ha ha! I relayed your story of getting your tractor stuck in the mud and it immediately becoming a thing of much interest for your turkeys and my wife just about laughed herself out of her chair! We have had Narragansett, Bourbon's, Royal Palm & White, and by far the heritage breeds are light years ahead of the whites in gray matter. We are down to two royal palm toms. Our bourbon kept chasing the chickens and killing hens... bad birds. The whites were Thanksgiving, and if the heritage breeds are rocket scientists, the whites were a half step below a bag of hammers.

Anonymous said...

I'm envious of the selection available to you. I'm lucky to even have a supplier of the Broad Breasted Bronze. It's that or white, period.