On the farm
Technical advances in turkey genetics, production and processing have helped create turkeys that produce a pound of meat using a smaller amount of feed and in less time than most other domestic meat-producing animals. he National Turkey Federation (NTF) and the American Meat Institute (AMI) have released a video presentation of a turkey farm and processing plant hosted by leading animal welfare expert Temple Grandin, Ph.D., professor of animal science at Colorado State University. The video is available on NTF’s YouTube channel or by visiting AMI’s “Glass Walls Project” at www.AnimalHandling.org
America’s turkey farmers have developed the standards for raising healthy birds in a safe environment to produce wholesome, nutritious, affordable food for people around the world.
Protection and proper use of natural resources is an important objective for the turkey industry. Farmers as responsible stewards of the land, air and water, use modern agriculture methods to provide safe, affordable, healthy foods to feed our families and a growing world. Because of the intensive nature of modern turkey husbandry, very little land is actually devoted to production. The biggest potential impact is from the use of the bedding material ("litter") used in the turkey houses. Litter is rich in nutrients such as nitrogen and is recycled as an organic fertilizer on farm fields.
Careful management ensures that litter is used in accordance with the nutritional needs of crops so that nutrient enrichment of groundwater and surface water is eliminated or minimized.
Click here to learn how the turkey industry ensures the health and well-being of its flocks.
Some breeders find it economically feasible to molt the hen (give her a resting period) for another production cycle. It takes 90 days to molt a turkey hen, and her second laying cycle will produce a slightly lower number of eggs (75-80).
The incubation period to hatch a turkey egg is 28 days.
Fresh water is available at all times. On average, it takes 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30-pound tom turkey.
Today's more modern turkey production methods have shortened the time it takes to bring turkeys to maturity. The hen usually takes 14 weeks and weighs 15.5 pounds when processed. This compares to the tom, which takes 18 weeks to reach a market weight of 38 pounds.
Hens are processed and usually sold as whole birds, while toms are further processed into products such as cutlets, tenderloins, turkey sausage, turkey franks and turkey deli meats. All turkeys are both hormone and steroid free. No hormones have been approved for use in turkeys. Genetic improvements, better feed formulation and modern management practices are responsible for the larger turkeys produced today.
Antibiotics have been safely used in animal agriculture for half a century to treat and control disease in animals and to improve the animal’s overall health allowing for greater productivity. Antibiotics are an important reason the
The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is required by law to approve all antibiotic drugs for safety and efficacy. Specific regulations govern their safe use and proper withdrawal period. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) monitors residues of antibiotics or other medications. FSIS samples flocks of turkeys at random to test for violative residues.
The cost of raising a turkey involves many factors. Fixed costs include buildings, equipment and interest on loans while variable costs are labor, feed and poults. Feed ingredients account for about 2/3 of the cost of raising a turkey. Geographic location, financial situation, farm size and production efficiency all contribute to cost differences in turkey production. Improvements in genetics, feed and management practices have made domesticated turkeys more efficient at converting feed to protein than turkeys in the wild.
Domesticated turkeys are also bred to have more breast meat, meatier thighs and white feathers. Turkeys have been bred to have white feathers so they leave no unsightly pigment spots under the skin when plucked.
The Anatomy of a
The Snood - a long, red, fleshy growth from the base of the beak that hangs down over the beak
The Wattle - a bright red appendage at the neck
The Beard - a black lock of hair found on the chest of the male turkey
A large group of turkeys is called a flock. A baby turkey is called a poult and is tan and brown.