Turkey

What We Have

HISTORY

The flightless, huge, ugly-looking, domesticated turkey is more popular in North America than anywhere else in the world. It was domesticated around 10 B C – 10 A D who ate its meat, and used its feathers for ornamentals purposes. According to accounts, they staged a turkey festival every 200 days and traded approximately 900 – 1000 birds daily in their markets. Mayan royal feasts included turkey wrapped in corn tortillas. By the time conquistadors arrive in the Americas, turkey had become the staple meat of Mayans, Aztecs, Incas and other indigenous peoples. Both H. Cortes and C. Columbus tasted turkey and found the meat tasty enough to take a few specimens to Spain. Soon turkey was popular amongst the European aristocracy due to its less stringy texture. Up to that time, nobility ate peacock and pheasant both of which have stringy flesh. From Spain, turkey spread to France and Italy, but today Europeans eat much less turkey than North Americans do. Further east in the Middle East, turkey never really gained popularity although there are farms that are paraded in residential streets. When a customer buys a bird, it is slaughtered right on the sidewalk and plucked. Not a pretty sight!

By the 16th century, British referred to the bird as turkey cock, but the origin of the word unclear. In India, turkey is called tuka by the Tamils (a south Indian people who were brought to Sri Lanka for tea picking). Today there are (Indian and Sri Lankan Tamils), some claim the name comes from the guttural sound turkeys make; others call it Hindi for Indian believing the bird came from there. The French call it dinde (also meaning from India = d'Inde which was eventually abbreviated) and a small specimen dindon, whereas South Americans refer to it as peru. Many people are now trying to revive breeds like Narragansetts, Bombon reds and Bronzes that resemble the original turkey. In restaurant kitchens whole turkeys are used for Thanksgiving-, Christmas- and special dinners. Many chefs buy turkey rolls, which are available in various shades, white, dark or blended. Then you can buy sausages, breast or legs. Needless to say the natural taste and texture has been completely altered in an attempt to increase production and reduce market-ready weight growth time to increase profits. Fortunately, a small fraction of food enthusiasts can differentiate between taste and texture and facsimiles thereof. They have started fighting to reverse the trend.


VARITIES OF TURKEY

Technically, only one breed of turkey exists, but many varieties of turkey are available. If you are interested in raising turkeys, it is important to choose a variety that meets your particular needs An important distinction to understand is the difference between a commercial-type variety and a heritage variety. Commercial-type varieties have been bred specifically for commercial producers to address consumer preferences and production efficiency.


Housing and Equipment

Housing requirements for brooding and rearing chicks and pullets can be quite minimal if done in late spring and summer. Almost any small building that meets the floor-space requirements for the desired-size farm can be used. A small number of chicks can even be brooded in a corner of a garage. After the brooding period, pullets can be reared in a fenced range or yard with only a covered shelter for protection from the weather. Brooding, feeding, and watering equipment can be purchased from local feed and farm supply outfits. Much of the equipment can be home-built. Used equipment may be available locally from farmers who no longer keep poultry. Usually, three sizes of feed hoppers are recommended so that birds, as they are growing, can easily eat without wasting feed.


Brooding Methods

Infrared lamps provide a convenient heat source for brooding chicks. Use porcelain sockets approved for these lamps and suspend the lamps with a chain or wire (not the electric cord) so they are no closer than 15 inches to the litter. If the average brooder house temperature is 50 degrees F, one 250 watt infrared lamp is generally sufficient for heating 80 chicks. One chick can be added to this estimate for every degree over 50 degrees F. You should use more than one lamp so the chicks will not be without heat if a lamp burns out. Supply more heat by lowering the lamps to 15 inches above the litter or by using more or higher-wattage lamps. To reduce heat, turn off some lamps, use smaller lamps, or raise the lamps to 24 inches above the litter. You are heating the chicks only and not the air, so air temperature measurements cannot be used as a guide to chick comfort when using infrared lamps.

Force Feeding

Starve out problem is one of the major factors for early mortality in young ones. So special care has to be taken for supplying feed and water. In force feeding, milk should be fed at the rate of 100ml per liter of water and one boiled egg have to be given at the rate of one per 10 young ones up to fifteen days. This will compensate the protein and energy requirements of the young ones.   Young ones can be attracted to the feed by gentle tapping of the container with the fingers. Colored marbles or pebbles placed in feeders and waterers will also attract young ones towards them. Since turkeys are fond of greens, some chopped green leaves should also be added to the feed to improve the feed intake. Also colored egg fillers can be used for the first 2 days as feeders.


Feed

The methods of feeding are mash feeding and pellet feeding.

Turkey egg

The turkey egg contains protein - 13.1%, lipid - 11.8%, carbohydrate - 1.7% and mineral - 0.8% respectively.

Turkey meat

People prefer turkey meat because of its leanest nature. The energy value of turkey meats are protein - 24%, fat - 6.6%, 162 Calories per 100 gm. Mineral like potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, zinc and sodium are present. It is also rich in essential amino acids and vitamins like niacin, vitamin B6 and B12. It is rich in unsaturated fatty acids and essential fatty acids and low in cholesterol.