A Comparison and Evaluation of Heritage and Broad-Breasted Turkeys on Pasture
We purchased the six rolls of electrified portable poultry netting from Kencove in preparation for the project. Then after much consideration, we decided to take advantage of the two-year window and delay the start of the project until 2015. This grant was written to compare six different breeds of turkeys (five heritage breeds and one broad-breasted), starting with 12 day-old poults of each breed. Even allowing for a relatively high mortality rate we expected to have a minimum of 50 turkeys to sell for the Thanksgiving holiday. As 2014 was our first year of serious direct marketing, primarily via selling at a local farmers market, we were concerned that we would not have yet built up the customer base to allow us to reasonably sell that number of turkeys. So in 2014 we raised a smaller number of turkeys in an attempt to build up a market. Unfortunately, of the 20 salable turkeys we raised, and despite more than a month of advertising, we were only able to sell 10 turkeys and have dedicated ourselves to consuming the rest. Thus, I requested a one-year no-cost extension, to give us one more year of producing heritage breed turkeys and with the hope that this time we can successfully build demand such that selling 50 or more birds in 2016 is a reasonable proposition.
If my request for an extension is granted, in 2015 we will attempt to sell approximately 30 turkeys for the holiday season. In 2016, then, we will begin in the spring by preparing the pasture shelters for the turkeys, will purchase the remainder of the materials budgeted for, and will begin the project in earnest. The heritage breed turkey poults will be purchased in mid-May, to give adequate time for grow-out, while the broad-breasted poults will be started a few weeks later.
We have made contact with a local chef and restauranteur, to whom we have sold some of our other products, who is very interested in hosting our turkey tasting event at the conclusion of the grant project. After speaking with the manager of the farmers market at which we vend, we will be advertising the tasting event through the farmers market’s Facebook page, blog, and annual calendar. With an average daily market attendance of 6,000 or so customers, we hope that there will be sufficient interest to make the event a success. The event will primarily be an opportunity for consumers to taste the different breeds of turkeys side-by-side, to understand the difference that breed can make in the finished product, and will also include a presentation on the importance of selecting and raising heritage breeds.