My Pastured Turkey Model
There was a post about this, on the facebook regen ag group, I thought I would do a standalone article actually saying what my model is, precisely vs. well intended attempts to describe it by others. The key is I am not trying to be a turkey farmer here and this little micro income is only due to a quirk in polt pricing.
I sat looking at the pricing on Cackle Hatchery about 119 bucks for 15 polts shipped or 89 dollars for 5, I wanted 5, only 5 given the size they get that is about all the meat I want from them. But this is the reality I could have either paid 17 bucks a polt for 5 or gotten 15 for about 7 a piece. Well, you know what I did, I ordered 15.
Now I have done NO pre marketing because I had no plans to sell turkey this year. I also have no state approved processor that will allow me to get them processed then resell. I absolutely do not have the time to self process or any desire to do so. There are loop holes but I don’t really have more time to jack around much. So the process is simple, offer a low price, get the customer to do some work, make a small profit of money and nice profit of free meat.
In the end Cackle sent me 17 polts, one died the day of arrival the rest are doing great, if they made it this long likely I will raise 16 to adulthood. A very conservative average dressed weight on these birds will be 30 lbs. I raised three birds last year and they dressed at 37, 34 and 28 pounds, the 28 pound one was a hen. This means you are looking at live weights closer to 40 pounds.
So the reality is that in a few months I will have 600-700 pounds of live giant birds to deal with, I will have no way to process them myself (no time) and if I did process them all I do not have freezer space. My processor is not state approved for resale he can only process for the consumer. I would need additional crates and to rent a trailer to take all of them there anyway.
My solution is to sell 11 this way, you come get your birds, you take them to the processor, you get them processed for 8 bucks a bird, you weigh them, you pay me 3 dollars a pound on the honor system.
This gives both my customers and myself a pretty wide window to have them harvested. It is clean and above all it is legal and involves very little work for me. Many want to point out that pastured turkey sells for a lot more. Well, sure it does, in a package all nicely processed of course. That is NOT an option for me. I don’t have the time, this is not a key business unit, I just want ease of sale, no extra work, to provide a great product at a really great price and to get a lot of great quality meat at no real cost to myself.
So here are the all-important numbers
Feed (estimated) $400.00 this is high by the way.
My Personal Processing Fees for my 5 birds $40.00
My labor is irrelevant I was going to raise 5 for myself anyway. There is not much work as you will see anyway. There is certainly no more work for me to raise 16 vs. 5. If I was raising 500 this would be quite different.
Total Expenses $599.00
Income based on average weight of 30 pounds dressed, again this is VERY conservative.
11 Turkeys at 30 lbs avg – $990.00
5 Turkeys for personal meat 150 pounds of meat.
Now many say 3 dollars is too low, I totally 100% agree. Pastured birds go for 5-10 dollars a pound or more but let us go low, 5 bucks a pound. So my meat profit is $750.00 worth of meat to my family.
Total income – $1740.00
Total Expenses – $599.00
Profit $1141.00 However only 391 of it is taxable as income (cash), there is no tax on me eating my own birds! And again all my numbers are very conservative.
I get 5 birds and about 400 bucks in my pocket, had I not done this I would spend the same amount of time, gotten my five birds and paid about 200 dollars in cost for them. This is not really a business model what it is amounts to NOT LEAVING MONEY ON THE TABLE.
Now as to why this is so little work. My property is divided into 4 paddocks, we have almost no predator pressure, one time and that one is DEAD. Once the birds are about the size of a duck, they go out no tractor, no electro net, no nothing. They sleep on the ground; I just make sure they have a feeder and water source in their paddock. Once a week we move them to the next paddock, they get so tame they just follow you so this takes opening a gate and leading them.
There is nothing else, no more, that is all.
Again this is called not leaving money on the table. People that win with money do this many times every year. Where and how can I take what I would do anyway and make it profitable? 400 bucks here, 750 dollars in meat there, and it just adds up over the year and over your life time.
Now if I was farming turkeys for a living, even part of one, I would
- Charge more
- Not try to do it on this small piece of land
- Have to locate a state or federally approved processor
But I don’t have to charge more and want them all sold the end, no muss no fuss. I don’t have a bigger piece of land and farming is a side income for me and there isn’t a facility that can do this within 5 hours of me. So I can sit and pout and not raise turkeys or I can raise 5 for myself and pay to do so, or I can raise 16 total and be paid to raise 5 for myself.
I wrote this article to explain not really how to raise 16 turkeys and make a profit but how to think as a small homesteader and small producer. How to feed yourself the best quality food you can, give people a really fair deal and make a bit of money. There are many ways to do so. Likely many of you don’t have the land and lack of predators I do and this won’t work for you, the key is, what will? You must determine that for yourself, but next time you have a price point break on anything, THINK and see if you can figure out a multiple win scenario and don’t leave money on the table.
There is quite the movement of killing your thanksgiving bird. On one hand you empower others to take an active part in where their food comes from and charge a premium price doing so. Downside is a long day of setup, handholding, and cleanup.
Nicely said. I agree and am trying to learn this skill of having others pay for my food – currently I my chicken egg sales pay for almost all my feed for my chickens, quail and rabbits.
I think that so far, though, my quail are not nearly as profitable as they should be since I’m not getting a meat yield yet – but that’s my fault since I’m not set up to brood them yet. Soon I will be and then I’ll have more meat instead of just the egss.
Check around you, my guy sells me birds at 1 buck a bird, for 2 a bird he raises them to 3 weeks, OUT OF THE BROODER TIME. I can’t justify that cost on my end, sometimes it works the other way, he is a specialist and all set up to do this. Since you slaughter at 5-6 weeks I only tractor my pastured birds for 2-3 weeks, then take girls if I need them and out come the shears.
Quail eat about 2 pounds a month, for me that is about a dollar. 2 weeks is 50 cents, 3 is 75 so by paying for him to brood I am getting meat for 2.50 – 2.75 a bird.
It may be better for you to do your own brooding and find 2-3 people like me, the key is everyone can’t do everything and thank God that all gives us the ability to add value to what we do for others.
Question for Jack or anyone who keeps small animals or birds. When it’s time to slaughter a rabbit, quail, duck or chicken etc, does one have to bring the unlucky one well away from the others where they won’t see or hear their comrade or relative getting the chop or the twist. I imagine it would be terrifying on clutch to witness a kill, especially by the person who they see everday and are dependent on for food and water, also I imagine that the fear would weaken their immune system. I like the idea of being self sufficient with homstead food, I just dont fancy the end game bit!
No not really. A farmer friend when I was a kid said he shot a turkey with a 22 to slaughter it one time. That the next day the flock came after him and did so for a week, but based on my experience now I think it was BS. Old farmers are known for skill in BS to young kids you know, especially PA dutchy farmers.
If you do it right there should not be noise or commotion.
Don’t anamorphize. If you go in and chased down and beat one like a predator that would of course upset them. But when you take one away and it just doesn’t come back they don’t have a clue. When I processed quail last the cats and dogs were eating back bones, the ducks and geese were mingling around my feet. No one cared.
We want our animals to never understand they are going to die, to just be here one moment and gone the next. To feel a bit each time we take a life but know we did it the best way it can be done. Quick, efficient, painless, with as little stress as possible.
“We want our animals to never understand they are going to die, to just be here one moment and gone the next. To feel a bit each time we take a life but know we did it the best way it can be done. Quick, efficient, painless, with as little stress as possible.”
Well said sir.
Jack, this is exactly how we treat all of the animals on our farm. We give them a wonderful life and they have one bad moment. I never enjoy taking an animal’s life but know in my heart that I have done my best by them. I always give thanks for their lives to provide nourishment to our family and patrons.
Just a thought, Jack. Wouldn’t it be easier for you, to find people to go in on the initial purchase? The larger the order, cheaper the price per bird, and you don’t have to care for them or find buyers at the back end.
Please read the article. Seriously I don’t have room do to much more, I have to get people to take their own birds to slaughter, etc. If you can make the model YOU PROPOSE do it, seriously. Read the last two paragraphs twice.
No, I think you misunderstood me. What I was suggesting was you ask your listeners if there were any who would be interested in going in on an order with you. Obviously they would have to be local , because when the birds are delivered, you give them a call, and they pick them up. More people going in on the order means less cost per bird, and now you DONT have to find buyers after they’ve grown to slaughter size.
Okay I get you, yea this still doesn’t work for me but it may work for some. To make this work you need brooding space for all the birds and are likely to end up caring for all for a lot of them for a week or two until the people show up to get them.
Again this was an on the fly decision.
And I should add you certainly did read the last paragraph well enough! That thinking is exactly what you should be doing, how else can this work for _______. We just all have different blanks.
To me though I get the birds for say 7 bucks that is about as low as it goes. I need to sell at say what, 10, local feed stores sell at 12 around here for this breed.
Hence, if I got enough people to buy 50 I can make say 150 bucks, I am on the hook as well for all DOAs, etc. But yea I can see this working for people with the right market. My market of course is mostly people that do not have or can’t have animals.
What do you do to cut down on the predator pressure?
I just don’t really have much, there are a lot of neighbors and there are dogs everywhere, we have two dogs that spend a lot of time outside, the property isn’t that big as well. So it is not a typical rural property. Hence my admission that others may not be able to do what I do the way I do it.