After a successful first try at raising pastured turkeys, Don and Jackie King at P.O.P. Acres in Purdon have decided to raise them year-round.
“We had such great response from our customers last year that we decided to increase the number and variety of turkeys we raise. Raising our turkeys in several small batches allows us to give more personal attention to our turkeys’ needs. This is another way to satisfy customer demand all the time rather than just at Thanksgiving," Jackie explained.
Last year the Kings raised 26 Broad-Breasted White turkeys. They continue to raise Broad-Breasted Whites and plan to add heritage breeds like Bourbon Reds. Bourbon Reds have grown in popularity since being placed on Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, which is a list of foods in danger of extinction.
The Broad-Breasted Whites are the most popular breed and the kind found in your grocery store freezer. But unlike pasture-raised turkeys, the ones in the stores are usually raised in barns that house as many as 10,000 birds in close confinement. Often they have their beaks cut off to discourage aggressive behavior and are given antibiotics to control the infections caused by close confinement.
“Raising the Broad Breasted Whites on pasture rather than in a confinement house gives the bird the best of both worlds,” Jackie said. “The meat has a better texture from being raised on pasture and it has the additional white meat most people like.”
At P.O.P Acres the Kings are feeding the birds a soy-free, GMO-free and corn-free rations. “Our feed rations do not contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and we do not use antibiotics. When the poults (baby turkeys) are one-month old they are moved from a brooder to a corral in the pasture and given a large area to roam.”
Turkeys can be ordered online at www.popacres.com. The first turkeys should be available in September.
Rehoboth Ranch is also raising heritage turkeys again this year for Thanksgiving. “We have approximately 200 Bourbon Reds and the larger Narragansett turkey,” said Rehoboth’s Robert Hutchins. “We will start taking orders at all of our farmers’ market locations the first week in August until they are all booked for Thanksgiving.”
Rehoboth will also have several hundred Broad-Breasted Whites for Thanksgiving raised the same way as their heritage breed turkeys--“on organic pasture and fed a ration of organic, non-GMO grain.”