WHAT IS A HERITAGE TURKEY?
Heritage Turkeys are historic breeds of turkeys that were originally designed to be raised outdoors, in free-range production systems. All of today’s turkey’s breeds descend from wild turkeys native to North America.
Today’s turkey market is heavily dominated by just one breed, the Broad Breasted White turkey. This turkey has been developed for industrial production. It had been bred for the maximum amount of breast meat, making it so heavy that it cannot breed on its own. Also, this breed of turkey gains weight so fast that it has heart, respiratory, and immune problems.
Heritage turkeys, however; were bred to live outdoors, the way nature intended, before the invention of large scale industrial production! They have stronger immune systems, are hardier, and are great foragers. They do grow more slowly than the industrial breeds. Heritage turkeys take 26 to 28 weeks to mature in contrast to the industrial production breeds like the broad Breasted White turkeys which reach their full weight in just 14 to 18 weeks. This slow growth rate does mean that heritage turkeys are more expensive to produce, but it also is a big part of what gives them a fuller and richer flavor. Superior flavor is not the only reason to consider eating a heritage turkey. By choosing a heritage breed, you can help to save them by supporting the farmer who raises them. That in turn supports the heritage turkey in general through diverse breeding and therefore saves these majestic poultry breeds from extinction.
Today, there are 12 recognized Heritage turkey breeds among them there are; Beltsville Small White, Chocolate, Jersey Buff, Lavender/Lilac, Midget White, Narragansett, White Holland, Black, Bourbon Red, Royal Palm, Slate, Standard Bronze. We at Little Bend Heritage Farm LLC have chosen to raise Bourbon red turkeys for their wonderful flavor, gentle disposition, and biological fitness.
So how does the turkey arrive at your dinner table? Well, at Little Bend Heritage Farm LLC…….
IT ALL STARTS WITH AN EGG!
Here at LITTLE BEND Heritage Farm LLC. We own 20 acres south of Chatfield, Minnesota where we raise Bourbon Red Heritage Turkeys. We started off several years ago with a small flock of 3 toms and 15 hens and now we raise ALL our turkeys from start to finish. We replenish our flock by selective breeding of our hens and toms. Each Spring we collect, incubate, and hatch the eggs in our incubators. We teach each poult (baby turkey) to drink and eat insuring a strong healthy start. We raise them on an all-natural diet the way nature intended by giving them a large pasture to walk and run while they eat grass, bugs, and seeds; the food nature gives them and let them roam in the pasture during the day and let them roost up in shelters at night. They roam around taking dirt baths to stay clean and pest free the natural way.
WHY HERITAGE TURKEYS?
Do you remember the days of old when everyone gathered around the turkey for Thanksgiving? If you don’t remember ask an older person that you know and they will tell you there was nothing quite like it. Well at LITTLE BEND Heritage Farm LLC we are bringing back the turkey that was always the center of attention on the dinner table. We started this business with the objective of saving the traditional breeds of turkeys by returning them to the holiday tables of ordinary American families: Enhancing the traditions of yore! Heritage turkeys are naturally tender! The meat is lean but not gamey. They have ample dark and light meat to please everyone’s taste.
THE TURKEY’S LIFE
In the spring when the hens start laying their eggs we sell fertile eggs for others to hatch. We also hatch the eggs into poults to sell to people to raise them themselves! Furthermore, we take some poults and continue to raise them for people to enjoy for Thanksgiving or all year around as a wonderful, healthy meat.
Every fall after Thanksgiving we then select our next year’s flock and then we collect blood from each turkey and have them tested by the State of Minnesota! Yes, all of our turkeys are tested to stringent controls to be sure that our turkeys are the healthiest they can be.
“Come visit us at the farm and let’s talk turkey”