The turkey is a large bird, native to North America. The name turkey was initially applied to the guinea fowl that was presumed to have originated in Turkey. However, the American turkey is a quite different species from the guinea fowl, though the name remained. It was called a”peru” from the 18th century. Some common breeds of turkey are: Narragansett, Bronze, White Holland, and Bourbon Red.
The breeder farm is the place where the hen lays the eggs. These eggs are collected and delivered to the hatchery. In the hatchery, the eggs are stored in special incubators after cleaning. These incubators provide the right temperature and humidity levels for allowing the eggs to hatch. Generally, turkey eggs take 28 days to hatch. The baby turkeys, also known as poults, are kept in the hatchery until they are moved to the turkey farms. From the turkey farms, the hen turkeys and the tom turkeys are reared separately. The poults should be fed properly and watched attentively, at least until they shed their down feathers and receive the outer feathers. For this, they are put in climate-controlled barns that have soft flooring covered with straw or wood chips. They’re fed on a soft powdered combination of soybean, wheat and corn. Other nutrients like barley, milk powder, meat meal, lime rock, salt, vitamin premix, methionine, lysine and insoluble grit can also be added. Adequate water must also be provided.
These days, many improvements have been made in the genetics of turkeys. The white broad-breasted turkey has been the most common commercially raised turkey breed, since the 1960s. Additionally, there are various strains of this white broad-breasted turkey which are reared in different parts of North America. Turkeys are bred specially to have more meat in the breast and thighs. White feathered turkeys are generally preferred, since they don’t leave any ugly pigment stains when plucked.
Turkeys take around 4-5 months to grow to full size. Birds less than 8 months of age are known as young turkeys. The hen turkeys take 16 weeks to mature completely, and average around 8 to 16 pounds in weight. The tom turkey takes around 19 weeks and weighs anywhere between 16 and 24 lbs. Larger tom turkeys may weigh up to 40 pounds. These take a couple more weeks to grow. A breeder tom turkey can create up to 1,500 poults in a hen’s six-month laying cycle.
Turkeys receive a balanced diet containing mainly of soybean and corn. This is also supplemented with vitamins and minerals. A 30-pound tom turkey (male) requires around 84 lbs of feed an average. The expense of the feed is usually 2/3 of the complete price. Use of growth hormones for Raising Turkeys is prohibited. The quantity of antibiotics to be provided and the withdrawal period are determined by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service). The turkey’s wellbeing is inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or other state systems, and it may also be graded for quality. Turkeys that have been on antibiotics are not allowed to be processed for sometime before the residue of this medication has cleared from the body. Turkey farms are usually comfortable, providing shelter from harsh weather, predators, and disease.