Turkey season is here finally! It seems like yesterday when we had our turkey poults (baby turkeys) in the brooder waiting for them to go on pasture. This Saturday, we will select breeding stock and we will process the rest. So those of you on the turkey list....it won't be long.
Our philosophy on raising turkeys, as with all of our animals, is raising them in as natural environment as possible. We never give antibiotics or growth hormones. Our feed is grown naturally; no chemicals have been used to produce the feed we give them - no pesticides or herbicides. Yadda, Yadda, yadda,....if you've read our blogs before, this is redundant, I know. So I thought I would elaborate further. There is a better story...
As Nicole and I were looking at our model in the spring, one of the top things we had to figure out was where to put the turkeys. We had to keep them ahead of the chickens, because of blackhead (a disease chickens can carry with no ill effects but will potentially kill turkeys), and the sheep were also ahead of the chickens. (What I mean is, as we move our paddocks, the sheep always get new ground and the chickens get the old sheep paddock.) What to do? We decided to keep the turkeys and sheep in the same paddock. After all, they eat different forages and the sheep could certainly benefit from the turkeys and guineas eating ticks and other pests. So that's what we did.
One thing that we felt was important in raising turkeys is encouraging them to forage for their food. When we think of a heritage pasture raised turkey, we think of a smaller yet better tasting, healthier turkey. But how do you get them to be healthier? Grass. Plain and simple. Yes, these birds do require some grain in their diet, but we have limited how they eat it. We started feeding them in the afternoon. As we get ready to shutdown the farm, we give them feed in there turkey mobile and allow them to eat and roost for the night. When morning comes, they are out all day, eating grass and bugs.
Why is grass better than grain? Grass produces Omega3 fatty acids, which benefit the body by reducing disease like cancer, heart attacks, stroke, auto-immune disorders and so on. Grain on the other hand produces Omega6 fatty acids. When we consume a store bought, factory raised turkey; we get a turkey that has very little, if any Omega3 fatty acids, but plenty of Omega6 fatty acids.
When our bodies have an even ratio of Omega3 fatty acids to Omega6 fatty acids (or heavier in Omega3's), our bodies are good. The problem is, almost all of the turkeys, chickens and even beef for that matter, have all been feed a grain only diet (beef is finished on grain, but starts out on grass). What does that mean for you? High consumption of Omega6 fatty acids. In fact, most Americans have 30 times more Omega6 to Omega3's in their bodies. It is all about diet.
Would you be willing to change? Most people like the idea of change, but reality sets in and it is too much work. Then we get sick and are stuck taking meds.....if only we troubled ourselves to change.
BTW, if you have a heritage pastured turkey coming your way this holiday season, check this link out for cooking instructions (heritage turkeys cook a little different than a traditional bird): http://www.grassfedcooking.com/articles/PasturedTurkeyCookingTips.html