The Finest Heritage Wishard Turkeys The U.P. of Michigan has to offer
A uniquely American turkey, the authentic Heritage Turkey is the turkey that our forefathers knew and cherished. The Wishard American Bronze turkey, is one of the oldest United States turkey variety. Authentic Heritage turkeys have a richly flavored meat, succulent and juicy, and they are naturally well proportioned, which means they have a larger quantity of flavorful dark meat. The meat has a uniquely firm texture. The excellent flavor of the authentic Heritage turkeys is a result of their lifestyle: they roam in the fresh air outside and are fed a high protein diet. They can fly and breed naturally. The combination of their diet and the exercise opportunity produce a lean and tasty turkey – all natural and naturally delicious.
What the experts say about Heritage turkeys.
A heritage turkey is a throwback to a bygone age— we think a tastier, kinder and healthier age. Heritage turkeys are the ancestors of today’s Broad-Breasted White industrial turkeys. Heritage turkeys were mostly developed in the US and Europe and were identified by the American Poultry Association’s turkey Standard of Perfection of 1874. The term ‘heritage turkeys’ comprises a few different breeds, namely Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Jersey Buff, Slate, Black Spanish, and White Holland. Later, the standard came to include the Royal Palm, White Midget and Beltsville Small White. In the 1960’s, large corporations overtook the turkey market, and relied on the modern Broad-Breasted White because of its particularly large breast and shorter growing time. Your typical supermarket variety of turkey grows to about 32 pounds in 18 weeks, whereas as a heritage turkey takes about twice as long to reach the same weight. Most farmers who raise heritage turkeys do so in a very different environment than an industrial turkey farm. Heritage farms generally have more space for the turkeys—large barns to roost in at night, and acres and acres for them to roam, forage and explore while taking in some nice, fresh air. This is a huge difference from your typical commercial farm where birds are crowded into metal confinements, have little to no human interaction due to mechanized feeding and watering systems, and–I’ll just give it to you straight–cheap feed that often is chock-full of pharmaceuticals and slaughterhouse waste. Clearly, you just can’t raise as many of heritage turkeys on a small farm with the conditions we’ve described above (spacious barns and room to roam). If a commercial turkey farm loses some turkeys due to disease, injury, etc, they’ve got plenty of other turkeys to make up for it—a new crop waiting to replace the old by the time a heritage turkey is only half grown. A small heritage turkey farmer is depending more on every bird to recoup their expenses, so if they lose birds, it’s more of a problem. Ka-ching. So yes, heritage turkeys are more expensive, but the way they are raised makes them healthier and happier. Heritage birds are more closely related to their wild ancestors, so they tend to be healthier, hardier and can mate naturally (and run and fly!). Why is this exciting, you might ask? Did you know that Broad-Breasted Whites are too heavy to fly because they are weighted down by their unusually large breasts? They’ve been specifically bred to produce more white meat and to grow fast; so much so that they are now incapable of flight, have difficulty walking and can’t mate naturally. So, is it worth it? Chefs and turkey connoisseurs tend to agree that heritage birds taste better, are less salty and have a better texture when compared to your typical store-bought bird. Maybe since around Thanksgiving and we’re all thinking about how much we have and what we might be able to do for others, you might consider trying a heritage turkey this year. You’ll be helping the environment, eating healthier, and giving at least one bird the turkey equivalent of a rock star life.
Our Pasture Raised Heritage Turkeys
Here on our farm, we raise our own turkeys. We have our own breeding stock to make sure we keep the natural heritage breed line our customers want and deserve. We allow our hens to raise natural broods and we incubate some eggs too. We sell dressed turkeys, day old poults, and hatching eggs. Our turkeys are allowed to graze on acres of pasture land. Although they are fenced in for their protection, our turkeys have plenty of room to rome and eat natural clover, alfalfa, and bugs. Our birds are happy and healthy. All of our livestock are treated as pets, and part of the familly, while they are at our farm. We keep our farm small so can personally be involved with every animal.