Free-range Turkeys at Healing Ponds Farm

Free-range Turkeys… on our Deck

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Like our geese, ducks and miscellaneous chickens, our turkeys are entirely free range. They’ve got pasture, and they know how to use it.

Amusingly, though, they don’t always think it through when they feel like leaving their paddock. A turkey tom will enthusiastically walk the fence when there’s a goose on the other side, ruffling up his feathers for a face-off – but he won’t always realize that if he really wants to rumble, he’d need to walk just a little… bit… farther… to the open gate.

Turkey Paddock at Healing Ponds Farm

“No tricking us! We know where the gate is…!”

At night, they like to sleep in the poultry barn, an 18 x 8 foot shed with a place for everyone. Ducks and geese roost below, but the turkeys prefer to be upstairs; they climb a ramp and enter through an open window, which provides them plenty of air and a view, too.

We have two heritage turkey breeds at Healing Ponds Farm:

Bourbon Red Turkey

Bourbon Red Turkey (photo from Mother Earth News)

The Bourbon Red is a heritage breed from Kentucky, originally called “Bourbon Butternut.” It’s a great table bird with lots of lean, tender meat and a rich, tasty flavor – but as the broad-breasted varieties began to dominate the commercial market, its popularity declined.

Still, there’s no question that the Bourbon Red is better adapted to forage, breed, set, brood and (in so doing) survive. Plus, it tastes better. And it’s handsome!

As a result, Bourbon Reds have begun to make a comeback, especially in the Slow Food Movement: a great choice for the backyard as well as the dinner table.

Narragansett Turkey

Narragansett Turkey (picture from SlowFoodUSA.org)

Another heritage breed, this one from Rhode Island, Narragansetts descend from the wild American and domesticated European turkeys. Notable for their foraging abilities, these birds need very little food to supplement their diets when they have the space to roam. They’re also prolific breeders, with good mothering abilities. They have a calm disposition, and like Bourbon Reds, they’re also better tasting than your average commercially available Thanksgiving bird.

Narragansetts likewise faced a drop in popularity as the more modern, less adapted breeds became mainstream. Since then, though, they’ve happily carved a niche in the market for themselves once again. A sustainable, thoroughly American bird, Narragansetts are a wonderful “family farm” turkey.



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We sell beef. 100% pastured.

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