Farming in Nature's Image with Whole Farm Planning & Holistic Management

Bourbon Red Turkeys   (sold out for 2011)

We have raised these SMART turkeys since 1998.  These birds know how to breed, set, and brood. They can do this outdoors with minimal protection from weather or predators. They do well on pasture.

Adult birds are able to fly on to roosts and tolerate winter conditions with minimal shelter.  Our birds have access to fresh water. They have access to indoor shelter in the winter, but most prefer to be outdoors in a predator safe night pen.

Dry, clean indoor accommodations help our hens raise their broods with high survival rates. We select hens for their mothering instinct and capacity to raise chicks to full grown on free-range pasture. In addition to mothering instinct we breed for the size & color confirmation of the breed.  We aim for birds that finish well on pasture with minimal supplementation.

Heritage turkeys are naturally tender!  The meat is lean but not gamey.  Older birds have more fat and flavor. They have ample dark and light meat to please everyone's taste.

We find that it is important to keep older, experienced hens in the flock. We allow our matriarch hens to live their full life so they may pass this intelligence to as many offspring as possible. These are hens who assume who also have good mothering instinct, forage well and are calm. Often, a flock of hens will share the duties of raising poults.  A turkey hen may adopt poults of another hen if the other bird chooses to set again or in unfortunate cases, dies. 

We sell live birds only.  (We do not have state approved or USDA processing facilities in SW Colorado.) Also, we do not ship live birds at this time, you must come to our farm to pick them up. They may be used for breeding or butcher. Let us know as early as you can if you are interested in birds as they go fast. In 2011 we are planning to have poults available as early as May and.   Please contact us for details.

 

Comming Soon: A frequently asked question page for turkey
enthusiasts.

"The flavor of your pasture raised, heritage turkey is
awesome. Our guests said they had never
had a better turkey for Thanksgiving!"
Chef from Dunton Resort, CO

Heritage Turkeys FlyHeritage turkeys know how to fly. This young Bourbon Red is testing his wings out on our porch railing.  "Modern" commercial breeds are not able to fly because this ability has been bred out in order to achieve faster weight gains.

Bourbon Red HenMother hens teach youngsters where to find the good food. In this photo, mom is teaching them how to eat Cotoneaster berries. Note: The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has good information on how to raise  heritage turkeys. 

Pastured TurkeyPastured turkeys do well with minimal supplementation. They must always have fresh water. Young turkeys must have adequate protein, more so than chickens. Pastures must allow for recovery of insects as well as grass. Good pasture management and grazing planning procedures must be followed just as you would with cattle or sheep. 

Fifty hen turkeys will consume about the same amount of grass a 1000  pound cow does!  Grazing is a function of time!  Staying in a pasture too long or returning too soon will result in overgrazing.

Choke CherriesTurkeys love fruit. Apples are perhaps the most favorite food of our turkeys.
They also like chokecherries, plums, cherries, cotoneaster, crabapples, and to a lesser extent peaches. We let them enjoy the down fall in our orchard and hedgerows.

Turkeys will forage all winter and continue to eat grass after it is dormant provided the snow is not too deep. However, we must supplement with high quality feed.  We do not feed corn.  This keeps our birds in a healthy weight range. When turkeys get too fat they have the same problems as people do: difficulty walking, heart and liver disease!

Our dry environment limits parasites. We provide a dust bath for the turkeys to use as often as they please.  This contains diatomaceous earth mixed with wood ashes and sand. 

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Smart Turkeys

When we started, Bourbon Reds were listed as "threatened" by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Today they have moved up to the "on watch" list with still fewer than 10,000 birds globally.

Bourbon Red Tom

Bourbon Red Turkey Toms

Bourbon Red Tom Turkey

Please Note: The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has good information on how to raise  heritage turkeys.  

About Bourbon Reds

The Bourbon Red turkey is named for Bourbon County in Kentucky’s Bluegrass region where it originated in the late 1800s. It was developed by J. F. Barbee from crosses between Buff, Bronze, and White Holland turkeys.

The Bourbon Red variety was recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1909. It was ambitiously selected and promoted for utility traits, including a production-type conformation with a heavy breast and flavored meat.

The Bourbon Red was an important commercial variety through the 1930s and 1940s. As time went on, however, it declined in popularity, as it was unable to compete with the broad breasted varieties. Since 2002, renewed interest in the biological fitness, survivability, and superior flavor of the Bourbon Red has captured consumer interest and created a growing market niche. The breed was once critical is now listed as on watch by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy.

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Chick

Turkeys are very personable. With good care they are tame and get along with other animals just fine. Young birds even like to play with children! Games such as jumping through hoops and chasing berries is great fun for the birds and the children.

Turkeys make good "watch" birds and will alert you to strangers. Toms may seem intimidating when checking out a stranger, but they will not do harm unless provoked. The worst thing your visitor could do is kick the bird. Cornered and fearful turkeys will attack.

 

Sunflower

Sunflower seeds are another favorite food for turkeys.


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