What to Know: Pastured Turkeys

How Are They Raised?

We purchased both our commercial brown and our commercial white turkeys at Tractor Supply Company (TSC). Last year David built them a shelter to protect them from the elements.  They are outside, roaming free, during the day, but at night we gave them a safe place to spend their nights. During the day they were let out to have access to the sunshine, fresh air, and a nourishing diet of grasses, bugs and worms (doesn't this sound gross?).

Our turkeys are free ranging, kept outdoors on grass pasture and fed wholesome grains, resulting in moist, flavorful turkey. Our turkeys never needed antibiotics, so they are raised completely drug-free. From three weeks on, they lived in the shelter at night but had access to untreated pasture during the day.

Their favorite spot to hang out was our deck and they could frequently be found following us around the farm. At the end of their life they were harvested humanely through a local USDA certified butcher.  We believe in giving them a great life, with only one bad day

Why Is It So Expensive?

Our turkeys are currently marketed at $4.50 a pound. It sounds like a lot but there are a few reasons for that. 1) Our turkeys are produced on a small scale. We are not Walmart with the ability to lower the price due to bulk. We started with 20 turkeys and successfully raised 17 to maturity. 2) Their feed is purchased in smaller quantities. We have never done turkeys before so did not know how much feed they would require. Purchasing a huge bag of feed every four days was expensive. 3) They are allowed to wander and roam to their hearts content. We do not snip their beaks, allowing them to eat bugs, grass, and small rocks (they are supposed to, promise). This also comes with the risk of them wandering off property, losing our investment, losing some to predators, and they then leaned out. They were exercised and actually required more food than if we would have kept them confined.

To lead the lifestyle that a turkey is supposed to requires more care, which does come with a higher price tag. Due to start up costs of our farm we are actually losing money on each turkey we sell. You will find pasture raised, organic turkeys that cost $100- $120 a bird. With us, you are actually getting a deal!

What Should I Know About Cooking It?

If this is your first time cooking a locally raised free-range turkey then make sure you are ready for faster cook times. Surprisingly pasture-raised turkey will cook faster than large farm commercial birds. Keep in mind they will have less fat than the store bought birds.

I would recommend setting the oven temperature for 325 degrees and calculate about 8-10 minutes per pound if the bird is unstuffed. If you stuff it, expect 12 - 15 minutes per pound. Don't worry - towards the end it will brown! Always remember that times vary depending on ovens and bird size. Use a meat thermometer to keep track. A popular myth is the turkey should be 180 degrees. The USDA website says 165 degrees is fine and can help keep the meat more moist!

Once You Try It

If you try it and love it, please leave a review on our Facebook page so others can see how great having a small family farm raised turkey is!


- Written in 2020, updated 9/28/2022