Our second turkey, the Royal Palm, turned out better than the Bourbon Red, I got to butcher him on my schedule, instead of on fate’s schedule.

The tractor makes a great place to hang, I can put the animal just at the right height to do the job. Butchering is always a little sad. But at least this way, the animals only know a few moments of anxiousness or discomfort at the end of a good life; I can make sure of that. The ones in the grocery store, I’m not so sure about what their life and death experiences are like, but it’s probably not good…

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It’s interesting to see how much grass they eat. I have some books that assert that poultry eat very little greens and grass. Certainly they can’t get enough protein to live off of greens alone. But look at what was in his crop. Mostly grass, and some whole grain scratch that I scatter on the ground. Though there are poultry pellets available to them 24/7 in a hopper, I don’t see any in here, so he was definitely preferring to graze and peck. I almost wonder if this slows down their growth, if they are filling up on grass all the time, and exercising to harvest it? Versus if all they have available to consume is high protein grain and no room to move around, their bodies has no choice but to grow at a very rapid rate.

GrassEater_thumb[1]Ideally, before butchering you “empty them out” by giving them only water for a day. But I wasn’t sure when I’d have time for butchering, so I didn’t withhold food beforehand. Which means you just have to work around the full digestive tract more carefully. But it’s always interesting to see what’s in there, anyway.

This one only weighed 17 pounds live, rendering a 13 pound roaster. You can really see that these heritage breeds don’t develop the breast or thighs that the white commercial birds do- they still have a much more old fashioned bird shape.

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I brined it for six hours, then roasted it on a weeknight. But I got it in the oven later than I wanted, and ended up cooking at high heat to get it to finish. It turned out tough. :-{ I’m not sure if it was the age of the bird, the rushed cooking, or both. Or maybe I should have aged it longer than 48 hours in the fridge. But it made fabulously flavored stuffing and gravy, we made another batch of soup, and have some meat leftover that I’ll make into a casserole. Yum! And the dogs got lots more tidbits too.

The flavor of these birds was phenomenal compared to grocery store birds. The broth that comes off of them is very rich, turning into a thick gelatin when cooled. Something that I don’t see from purchased birds that I make into soup. And normally I have to add more condensed chicken broth to homemade soup to give it enough flavor. But with birds raised here, I find the broth can stand on its own. Maybe it’s the pasturing, their extra maturity, or maybe the heritage breeds are just better tasting. But definitely, the mass produced version is no comparison to birds raised the old fashioned way. Even if they probably ate $50 worth of food and took six months to grow! Winking smile

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