We haven't been able to determine whether Abby is reactive to Turkey or just reactive to what it was fed, or rinsed with, or injected etc. A few years back we spent a great deal of money on a local Turkey and she still reacted, but now that I am able to raise food for her I finally took on Turkeys to make sure we aren't removing a good source of protein from her diet.
I thought it would be the same as Chickens- not so. Turkeys need a lot more attention. They EAT like crazy! Not cheap when feeding them corn-free and soy -free Scratch and Peck and any(and ALL) organic greens I could find. I finally broke down and fed them some organic bread that did not have corn listed but I suspected it wasn't completely safe. They ate a lot of organic banana's, for whatever reason they adored them. They loved 3 helpings of dairy yogurt a day(I needed to make sure their protein needs were met and my homemade coconut yogurt covers the calories but not the protein). For the last six weeks I went out of my way to hand feed them every two hours throughout the day to make sure they gained weight as quickly as possible. (The cost calculations on what we fed these guys is mind blowing, that local organic turkey from the farmer you trust that is charging 100 dollars for it all dressed, rested to go? Buy it, you are getting a deal!)
Another issue was that the setup I have just wasn't spacious enough for Turkeys and chickens(my chickens were not into sharing ). So, I had to carry the turkeys in the morning to a 10 by 10 dog kennel and in the evenings I had to carry them back to their area of the henhouse. They were curious and sweet but big and strong and I am still covered in bruises and scratches. If we do it again I will make sure we have a building just for turkeys so I don't have to carry them! That last week was a tough one!
Butcher day came this weekend. Until we bought property the only thing I had killed in my life were fish and even those weren't easy on my heart. I suspect the only reason that I can participate in the butchering is because I know I have an obligation to the animal and also I keep in mind the end goal, which is to keep Abby's diet as corn-free as possible.
While butchering is hard on the heart and soul and it is labor intensive(especially with large strong birds) it really isn't complicated or hard. We hand pluck and even then 4 Turkeys took us about 6 hours start to finish(we set up the night before). Rinsing with water frequently and keeping our work area clean were key. When I pulled the turkey from the fridge today there was no smell what so ever. A huge different from the grocery store.
At 14 weeks my largest dressed broad breasted turkey weighed in at 23 pds. No complaints. If Abby tolerates turkey, then 23 pounds of meat could be split in a way to feed her for months.
Tonight Abby will try a bite of the first one to be roasted. Fingers crossed. On one hand it would be really terrific to add another protein to her diet, on the other hand the thought of raising more turkeys right now is daunting!
Not sure which critter comes next. Abby is opposed to rabbits(I have to admit after the struggle to butcher the big baby eyed turkeys this weekend I am relieved) and we aren't huge fans of goat meat so the goats are safe from me. I think though for at least a few months,I will focus on the garden.