At Stone Pony Farm we raise old-fashioned turkey breeds like the Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Royal Palm, and Chocolate. These beautiful heritage birds are fed with organic feed and allowed to free-range on pasture whenever possible grazing on a combination of grasses, clovers and bugs.
Why save a turkey?
Prior to the 1960’s the heritage bird was the bird of choice for America’s Thanksgivings. With the introduction of the Broad-Breasted White, however, the heritage breeds fell from grace and were forgotten. The Broad-Breasted White is bred specifically for the industrial market. These birds are bred to grow at an unbelievably fast rate developing an extremely heavy breast in as short a time frame as possible thereby reducing feed costs for the industrial breeder. These birds grow at such a rapid rate that their legs are not capable of supporting the huge mass of their bodies in the event they live longer than one year. Additionally, they are incapable of flying, foraging or mating. They have been bred to be docile and stupid. Tragically, these birds are raised in buildings with little light or ventilation three feet above the ground. That’s right, most of these birds will never set foot on soil or grass since their breeding makes them so susceptible to parasites they are not able to even walk on the ground!
Heritage breeds, however, are capable of flying, foraging and mating and the absolute best way to ensure that these beautiful old-fashioned breeds do not become extinct is to put one on your Thanksgiving table. The meat on a heritage bird has a deeper and richer flavor than a supermarket variety. It also has more texture and is less likely to be mushy than an industrial raised bird. These birds do not have a gamey flavor, but, unlike supermarket birds bred for size and not taste, a heritage bird will actually have flavor.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Slow Food USA