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Turkey Crop is Nearly Ready
John Caveny has a lot of birds to worry about on his farm just outside of Monticello.
"We have about 600 turkeys that we're going to have for sale this year," Caveny said.
These aren't your typical store bought butterballs.
"We raise only bourbon red heritage turkeys," Caveny said."The bourbon red turkeys were the most commonly eaten turkeys in the United States before the broad breasted turkeys came on the scene in the late 1940s."
There's a simple reason for his choice of breed.
"Because they taste better than any other kind of turkey," Caveny said.
He's also become a keen observer of turkey psychology.
"We buy all these turkeys as poults, baby turkeys, day old, and yet every year they all learn to talk in unison," Caveny said. "You know, and there's not a turkey to teach them that, this is something that these turkeys somehow intrinsically know how to do."
And then there's the strut that the toms seem to master rather quickly.
"It's just ah, they're like teenage boys, they're just trying to impress the girls," Caveny said.
They might not strut quite as much if they realized they're all headed for processing in a week or two.
"These tom turkeys will dress out about 14 to 18 pounds," Caveny said. "And these hen turkeys will dress out between 8 and 10 pounds."
A big part of getting these turkeys to market is keeping them alive, and a lot of that revolves around several Great Pyrennes dogs, which John refers to as his bio-security system.
"These are our guard dogs," Caveny said. "We have problems with coyotes out here. So the way this situation works out here, we have these three white dogs and they patrol the perimeter of the fence during the night and during the daytime too."
That's also how the dogs offer some peace of mind.
"We're always glad to see the turkeys wrapped in plastic and frozen," Caveny said. "Because there's a lot of things that can happen from the first Thursday in April 'till the end of October."