The holiday season isn’t just a period of family bonding. It is also the time when you get to splurge on different kinds of dishes without feeling guilty about overspending. From sweet desserts to the main course, you know that this period won’t feel the same without including turkey in your menu.
Hence, if you’re looking for a large breed that can yield a great amount per carcass, the Broad Breasted White turkey is definitely your best bet!
Before you begin grabbing these turkeys at the market, there are a few interesting facts that you should know about these delectable birds.
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They Are the World’s Largest Domestic Turkey Breed
According to the Guinness World Records, Broad Breasted White turkeys are considered the world’s largest domestic turkey breed.
They also measure 40 to 49 inches long and stand up to 4 feet tall!
They Aren’t Actually a Purebred
The Broad Breasted White turkey was first developed in the 1960s for the sole purpose of creating a turkey breed with a clean carcass. It was also developed because of a shift in the market where consumers were looking for large turkeys that could yield large breast meats.
Because the Broad Brasted White turkeys have shorter breast bones, they often yield a heavy amount of breast meat per carcass which is why many people prefer them to other varieties of turkey.
They Are Physically Easy to Identify
You can easily spot Broad Breasted White turkeys from miles away!
With their white plumage, they also have white or fairer flesh. Hence, their pin feathers will be less visible when these birds are dressed.
They Need a Large and Spacious Living Space
Broad Breasted White turkeys are the largest domestic turkeys in the world. They need a livable coop to ensure that they don’t undergo stress that can inhibit their growth.
These birds can stay in a fenced or guarded area and roam safely on their own. These gigantic birds also require roosting bars. However, due to their enormous size, they are prone to experience leg injuries and other foot problems. Hence, you can build these structures 10 to 18 inches above the ground.
As for poults, you can raise them inside brooders or homemade structures that measure at least 4 feet long and 2 feet wide. Once they grow bigger, you can transfer them to other coops with bigger spaces.
Aside from the height of their resting place, there are also other safety features to consider when providing a comfortable living space for your turkeys. For instance, the floor inside their coop must be slip-proof to prevent injuries to their feet. You must also change their bedding regularly to maintain good hygiene.
If you live in colder regions, you should also insulate their coop to protect these birds from extreme cold and heat fluctuations. During hot days, large turkeys are also prone to suffer from overheating.
Hence, you must always keep their living conditions in check and take necessary steps promptly to prevent further issues down the road.
They Eat a Lot
You can expect that large turkeys require a different amount of food than medium or small-sized birds. The same thing goes for their poults. However, there is a difference in protein composition between chicks and adult turkeys.
For instance, poults need starter feed with 30% protein until they reach 8 weeks old. After this period, you can switch to 18% or 20% grower feed until they are mature and ready for butchering.
As for adult turkeys, you should watch their diet and don’t overfeed these birds with feed that contains more than 18% protein. This is to avoid obesity and other weight-related illnesses that come from their eating habits.
If possible, you can let them free range occasionally so that they have a mix of different proteins from other natural sources. You can also supplement your turkeys with other healthy food such as vegetables, seeds, and fruits.
Even if these birds are to be raised for just a short period of time, they still need to have a balanced and nutritious feed.
They Can Be Quite Aggressive
Broad Breasted White turkeys are generally friendly and docile.
Aggressive reactions from these birds usually occur when they feel threatened, especially during butchering seasons.
Hens are less likely to be as hostile as toms. So, if you raise both sexes, you will encounter less aggressive birds compared to raising a large flock of only male Broad Breasted White turkeys.
Generally, if these turkeys are treated with care and love, they are easy to handle and won’t turn hostile.
In some cases, they can also make good farm pets, provided that they undergo intensive training so they can adapt and behave accordingly.
They Are Prone to Weight-Related Diseases
Obesity is one of the health issues that affect large turkey breeds like the Broad Breasted White.
These issues mostly affect older turkeys that have gone past their expected butchering period. So, if you choose to raise this breed for a very long time, you should monitor their health and diet religiously.
On average, healthy Broad Breasted Whites can live up to 5 years.
They Are Raised Primarily for Meat Production
Hence, most breeders and farmers only raise this breed for meat production. However, this doesn’t mean that hens can’t lay eggs.
The hens usually produce cream-colored eggs full of random tiny dark brown spots. These eggs are mostly not for sale due to their possibility of rapid hatching. You can choose to incubate the eggs and raise the poults until they mature.
They Are Affordable for Small-Scale Homesteading
Aside from saving money, some people choose to raise their own turkeys just to reap the benefits of their effort. However, some breeds are costly to keep.
Roughly speaking, the total cost of raising one Broad Breasted White turkey for 16 weeks is $42.90 compared to raising one heritage turkey, which costs $52.49. In fact, their poults are much cheaper to buy, costing about $8.02 per bird. Meanwhile, heritage breed poults cost about 13.86 per bird. That’s $5.84 extra that you can save for other miscellaneous costs!
Although the difference might be too small to notice, it can add up, especially if you’re planning to raise a dozen or more birds for a very long time.
They are easy to care for and can easily adapt to any type of environment. Moreover, raising your turkeys means that you have total control over their feed and growth rate. And this is how you take a baby step toward having a clean, organic, and healthy source of meat.