Our panel tasted 11 frozen Christmas turkeys and crowns to find the best. Natural Turkey On the flip side, natural turkeys are made without any artificial colors, flavors or ingredients, chemical preservatives or synthetic ingredients and are no more than minimally processed (meaning the raw poultry is not “fundamentally alter(ed),” according to the USDA ). Bourbon toms can get to 23 pounds and hens can reach 12 pounds. 9 Bunny Breeds That Are Too Cute for Words, The 7 Best Coffee Subscription Boxes of 2020, Raising Pullets for Your Small Farm or Backyard Coop, Raising Mini Alpine Goats on a Hobby Farm. Compared with broad-breasted turkeys, the heritage breeds have greater disease-resistance and are better foragers, making them suitable for keeping on pasture. They are calm, good setters and mothers, but sometimes break eggs because the hens are so heavy. Thank you for choosing this service. Bourbon Red turkeys are noted for―yes, you guessed it―their beautiful red plumage. The Black Turkey Company. When young turkeys are cold or frightened, they tend to pile on top of each other, smothering those unfortunate enough to find themselves at the bottom. But if you’re strictly into white meat, the breast of a heritage turkey is only about half the size of that of a broad-breasted turkey. Lauren Arcuri is a freelance writer and an experienced small farmer based in rural Vermont. There is error while submitting your request. They maximize the conversion of feed to white breast meat in the shortest possible time. There are so many variables that I can think of that would effect the taste of a turkey, that this is almost an unanswerable question? I am thinking of raising a couple sheep for meat. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. There are quite a few heritage turkey breeds to choose from. Because turkeys take longer than chickens to reach maturity, they have more time to become injured, get sick or die. 5th generation farmer on our families land. Gail Damerow milks Nubians on her Tennessee farm. Their plumage is black, and they have been around since the 1500s. If you want to raise a few large turkeys to roast for the winter holidays, you might consider a fast-growing broad-breasted type. If this has been discussed, could someone post a link? hillsideacres Heifer. Place your order early in the year, especially if you want one of the less common breeds, to ensure the hatchery doesn’t sell out. The "Bourbon" comes from their origin in Bourbon County, Kentucky, where they were first bred in the 1800s. Copyright © 2020 EG Media Investments LLC. They're also known for a delicious, full flavor and are considered one of the best-tasting heritage turkey breeds. Our experts will call you on your preferred time. This story originally appeared in the March/April 2018 issue of Hobby Farms. They're not very social compared to other heritage breeds. Once you’ve decided you want to raise turkeys, choosing the right breed starts with deciding between broad-breasted and heritage turkeys. Ordering well in advance also gives you plenty of time to set up your brooding facility. But this efficiency is not without problems. Your email address will not be published. They make a nice table bird but are blander than Midgets or some other heritage birds. They are also good flyers and control insects well. Bourbon toms can get to 23 pounds and hens can reach 12 pounds. What breed of sheep is the best tasting raising for meat? Prepare the best tasting Thanksgiving bird with these tips on how to season a turkey. Midget Whites are a relatively new heritage breed developed in the 1960s by researchers at the University of Massachusetts. Sometimes called Black Spanish or Norfolk Black turkeys, this breed was domesticated from Mexican wild turkeys brought back to Europe by the first Spanish explorers who visited the New World (America). If you decide that raising heritage turkey breeds is right for your homestead, you’ll want to choose the best breed for your needs. Although turkey eggs taste wonderful, the hens lay only seasonally, making egg production uneconomical as a main reason for keeping turkeys. On Feb. 25, 2008, approximately 70 people gathered at Ayrshire Farm in Upperville, Va., to participate in a blind tasting comparing one industrial and eight heritage varieties of turkey. Larry & Dianne Ader. They were first bred there during the 1800s. This breed came from their origin in Bourbon county, Kentucky. White Hollands were, yes, originally bred in Holland. They migrated with early settlers to the colonies and were a popular meat bird in the United States in the 1800s. Toms can reach 25 pounds and hens can reach 16 pounds, although birds available today may be smaller than this. Dianne. Originally from Rhode Island (as you might surmise from the name), Narragansetts were the staple of the New England turkey scene before factory-farmed turkeys became the norm. All rights reserved. Prepare the best tasting Thanksgiving bird with these tips on how to season a turkey. They're also known for a delicious, full flavor and are considered one of the best-tasting heritage turkey breeds. Turkeys are only slightly more difficult to raise than chickens. Royal Palm turkeys were bred for their good looks, and are beautiful, striking birds with black and white plumage. Toms can weigh up to 30 pounds and hens, up to 20 pounds. This is the "modern" turkey breed that is raised in factory farm settings across the United States. The best tasting turkey – one that has depth of flavour, is juicy and tender but also has structure – needs to be slow-grown for around six months. A slow maturing, rare breed, Norfolk blacks are probably Britain’s oldest turkey, originally shipped over from North America in the 16th century. On the other hand, heritage turkeys grow at a much slower rate, finishing in six to seven months, whereas the broad-breasted types are ready to harvest in four to five months. Add to Favorites . Midget Whites are calm and do well-raising poults. In any case, these birds are small and don't have the commercial potential of most other heritage varieties, being mostly raised for exhibitions. A turkey isn’t your average 18th birthday present, let alone 153 of them, but that’s what Tom Copas was given for his in 1957. In first and third place were Standard Bronze turkeys (both from Frank Reese's breeding stock). Developed in the 1930s, these birds are roughly the same size as the Midget Whites, but with wider breasts. Still, they are suitable for the home production of meat and are active turkeys that forage extensively. Gardens. “We want to show people what turkeys used to taste like,” she says of the farm her father started in Potomac and Adamstown, Md., now in its first year of offering a heritage breed. Bronzes were originally a cross between the turkeys brought to the colonies by Europeans and the native wild turkeys they discovered in America. The bird with a “mixed” parentage was unremarkable, according to our tasters, and while flavorful, the wild turkey meat was somewhat tough. A mature Bourbon hen weights about 12 pounds and a mature tom can reach about 23 pounds. There are not nearly as many turkey breeds as there are chicken breeds, but there are still enough varieties of turkeys to warrant a decision about which breed or breeds of turkey you will raise as a small farmer or homesteader. I have read, time and again the question asked about which heritage breed of turkeys taste best! They are, however, prolific layers. The supermarket breed — called Broadbreasted White — suffers in comparison, heritage turkey fans say, because it’s been bred to yield as much white meat as possible (hence its name). Please try again. Although small, Midget Whites are known for their deep, delicious flavor. They don't taste too great, either. However, the Broad-Breasted Bronze was replaced by the Broad-Breasted White at that time because white feathers led to a cleaner-looking, more commercially acceptable turkey. It also needs to be hung for a good couple of weeks before you buy it. They are a cross of Royal Palm and Broad-Breasted Whites. One of the largest breeds of heritage turkeys, Bronzes have also been the most popular turkey variety in American history. Required fields are marked *. We started with a pair of Midget White and are now onto our most recent addition, the Standard Bronze. With their striking black plumage, Simon and Karen O’Malley believe their Norfolk black turkeys are the tastiest you will find. Gala Topples Red Delicious in Apple Standings, Stunning Images Focus on Birds at Their Finest, 10 Fabulously Flamboyant Roosters That Defy the Norm. … These are the most popular and common of the thirteen recognized heritage turkey breeds. You might be thinking, "What about a heritage breed?" Broad- Breasted Whites can't walk or fly, are prone to disease, and can't reproduce without artificial insemination. Almost any hatchery that sells chicks also sells poults (baby turkeys). The Broad-Breasted Bronze is a variation that is more commercial and most have been bred by artificial insemination since the 1960s. Why Does Beef From a Local Farm Cost So Much More Than What's in the Grocery Store? Thank you. The best Christmas turkey for 2020 It's the centrepiece of the Christmas meal, so you want to buy the best! Since the hens are small, they can become good fence-jumpers. To help you with this task, I’ve compiled the following list of the breeds commonly available as day-old poults through hatcheries in the United States. Other reasons for raising turkeys are to help preserve the genetics of the rarer breeds or simply to enjoy these beautiful birds strutting around your farm. And face it: The primary purpose of any turkey is to produce meat. Even though a heritage turkey meat project requires an extra two months, the reward is juicier, more flavorful meat. Hatcheries offer many turkey varieties. We have been raising heritage turkey breeds for quite a few years now. Finally, turkey breed may have played a part in our preferences. The best Christmas turkey for 2020 It's the centrepiece of the Christmas meal, so you want to buy the best! For starters, they are a little less calm, and they chill more easily. They are also known and popular for a full flavor, delicious meat and are considered as one of the best tasting heritage turkey breeds. Narragansett However, if you wish to raise turkeys in the future from your own flock, the heritage breeds will naturally produce fertile eggs. In contrast, broad-breasted turkeys require artificial insemination, because their enormous weight and outsize chests make them too awkward to mate naturally. Typical sizes are 18 pounds for hens and 30 pounds for toms. The best-tasting turkey – one that has depth of flavour, is juicy and tender but also has structure – needs to be slow grown for around six months. 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