Is a Turkey Just for Christmas?

christmas_turkey

Well, apart from their traditional role in our Christmas festivities, turkeys are actually great egg layers, and worthy of consideration if you’re looking for a new product that will undoubtedly intrigue your customers!  So, here are a few ‘turkey statistics’:

  • Turkey eggs are approximately 1.5 times heavier than a large hen’s egg
  • A female turkey, called a hen, will start laying at around 28-32 weeks of age
  • During the laying season, which generally starts in April, the hen will lay approximately 4.5 eggs per week, or between 50-100 eggs a year
  • The eggs are not the best for frying, but are ideal for scrambling and are reputed to be the best type of egg for baking, producing an extra fluffy texture to cakes
  • Her laying season generally ends in August, at which point the eggs are hatched and the young birds (called poults) are reared for the Christmas table
  • Turkey hens go broody quite easily, so if you want to rear table birds or expand your flock you should be able to do it naturally, either by letting the hen incubate purchased fertile eggs, or by introducing a male turkey, called a stag (also tom, gobbler or, for a young male, a jake)
  • The main types of turkey kept in the UK are the Norfolk Bronze, the Black and, mostly in intensive commercial production, the White
  • To keep turkeys you will need a reasonable amount of space to enable them to exhibit their natural behaviour: younger birds especially will readily fly for short periods, exhibit playful behaviour and like to perch and roost
  • They will also need shelter and protection from predators
  • A mature male turkey may weigh in the region of 20kgs, hens rather less
  • A turkey’s natural lifespan is about 10 years
  • Turkeys are native to North America, Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Guatemala and Belize, but our domestic turkeys are very different from the wild ones, having been selectively bred as table birds since the late 19th century
  • Currently, turkey eggs are on sale for £1.99 for 2 eggs (from Waitrose when in season)
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