Getting to Know the Gobbler with These Turkey Facts
Darrel Winter of Winter’s Turkeys tells us a little about the Thanksgiving bird
A turkey dinner is a holiday staple, but there’s more to it than light and dark meat. Darrel Winter of Winter’s Turkeys raises birds 30 kilometres east of Calgary. He shares some insight on the Thanksgiving bird.
The turkeys we eat
We eat both hen (female) and tom (male) turkeys, but hens are more commonly found on dinner tables. If you need to feed a large family, a tom turkey is your best bet for a big bird. Winter’s Turkeys raises toms that weigh up to 15 kilograms.
Where to find a Thanksgiving turkey
Wild turkeys can be found in southern Alberta, in Cypress Hills and Porcupine Hills. But shooting your own bird may take some patience. Licences to hunt turkeys in the province are only issued through a draw, and the deadline to apply for the May hunt is almost a year in advance.
What to do if you happen to find a turkey egg
Turkey eggs are edible – and, Winter says, delicious – but rare. Turkeys only produce one or two of their large, speckled eggs every week, so they’re hard to come by. “Turkeys are selected for growth, not egg production,” Winter explains. “It’s a meat bird.”
Raising a healthy turkey
Turkeys are large birds, but they can also be delicate creatures. They require more care and attention to raise than chickens and are very sensitive to temperature changes. Young turkeys, called poults, require nearly round-the-clock care to make sure they survive.
Understanding a misunderstood bird
Despite what you may have heard, turkeys aren’t stupid. In Winter’s 25 years of raising them, he’s found turkeys to be curious and social. “It’s not the bird that is lacking brainpower. It’s us not understanding what it needs,” he says.
Winter’s Turkeys, off Township Rd. 224, 403-936-5586, wintersturkeys.ca