Turkeys are a very often missed part of a small farm or homestead. They are also one of the most cost effective sources of meat. They are a bit tricky to propagate and get to 4-5 weeks old if you incubate and brood house them. They are a piece of cake after that, barring foxes, bobcats and coyotes. I started my flock quite by accident when a friend was sick of them tearing her garden up, and the final straw for her was when the 16 turkeys were following her two row corn planter.... scratching up the sweet corn seeds and eating them She called me and asked if I wanted the damn things. Over the years those 16 turned into 250-400 in the flocks, what started out as pure white broadbreasted whites crossed with some of the wild population and I collected more turkeys from folks that thought they were a great idea but later realized they didn't have the space for them. I don't fence them in and don't even actively feed them, although they raid the pasture feeders for the pigs about every other day. They pretty much stay over on the 40 acre pasture and woods to the west of me that I lease. I do start taking 5 gallon buckets of cracked corn to them daily September through October so that when they see a bucket they will follow it to hades if it means a free meal. It makes it easy to lead them into the catch pens in the woods over there the week before Thanksgiving. In the catch pens we sort them and harvest 2/3s of the flock being particularly hard on the toms. Then load the culled birds onto a utility trailer I welded a big cage on to and they head to our poultry processing facility at the main farm. We typically harvest 150-200 of the flock for processing depending on the flock size. Like two years ago a momma bobcat and two of her not quite mature kittens moved in and killed the hell out of the flock in the roost trees. So we only harvested 30 birds and left more in the flock to repopulate. Looks around nervously.... No idea what happened to the bobcats..... We start taking reserves locally for our Turkeys in August for November and December Delivery for 100 birds. Folks must like out turkeys because the reserve list is usually filled by August 3rd. Anything over the 100 we put toward the reserve list overflow and any left after that we advertise and sell in the farm store at market. We are on the low side of the turkey pricing for direct market pasture raised birds at $2.75 per pound in the bag. But I literally have nothing into them other than a little training corn, and the time to round them up, sort them and process them. We have a fairly modern small poultry processing facility with tub pluckers, kill cones, temp controlled scalders and the entire store kitchen gets devoted to the clean side processing for a week. We can process 60-70 Turkeys per hour with help or I can do at best 15 per hour by myself. Chickens on the other hand we can do 250 per hour with a full crew helping. Nothing is wasted the heads, feet and guts are boiled and congealed and rationed out to the pigs. The feathers are mixed into the compost piles, our compost piles are a little bigger than most and typically have 30,000-40,000 pounds of organic material in them. The blood from the kill cone trough is hot dehydrated at 160 degrees. and then crumbled into blood meal to give a N and Iron Boost to the gardens. We dabbled with heating the feet and heads and grinding it to make a version of bone meal but it just is not worth the effort. All in all Turkeys can be very cheap to raise if scaled to your available forage and space. Our birds run from 14 pounds to 28 pounds dressed and in the bag. On a average year they bring $9,000-$10,000 additional income onto my little farm for what amounts to about a weeks worth of work. Even scaling down to say 10 turkeys that average 15 pounds dressed =150 pounds x $2.75 = $412.50 for around 6 hours of work processing, small scale but equates to $68.75 per hour invested. Even if you just raise them for your own freezer you are money ahead. Where you can get into trouble is buying turkeys from a hatchery at $6.00-$12.00 per chick. I am very good at getting them to 4-6 weeks old and still have hatches that run 30% mortality losses for the ones I incubate. The pasture nesters run about 50% mortality but are not sucking electric and feed until they are old enough to strike out on their own like the incubated chicks. The best things about Turkeys are they are primarily a seasonal product, they have a low time and money investment and they will reproduce on their own if you select the right breeds. Even if you feed them they convert feed to meat more efficiently than even chickens and they grow fast. I hand raised a couple of broad breasted bronze toms one year and got them up to 39 and 42 pounds dressed at a cost of $63.80 in feed. Sadly the oven was not even close to big enough to hold one of them whole and had to halve them to bake them Took this picture two years ago while one of the flocks was following me errr the bucket to the catch pen. Everything from Royal Palms, Narragansettes, Spanish Blacks and blue slates with everything inbetween mixed into my flocks.