Turkey Q & A

At The Fatted Calf we field many turkey queries as we approach Thanksgiving.

Here are the official answers!

What is a heritage turkey?
Prized for their rich flavor and beautiful plumage, Heritage Turkeys are the descendants of wild turkeys. Heritage turkeys are allowed to mate naturally, are slower growing and live a more natural life which makes for a more flavorful and juicier bird.

Where do the turkeys come from?
At The Fatted Calf we source all of our turkeys from Good Shepherd in Lindsborg, Kansas where they receive the best possible care from esteemed poultry farmer Frank Reese. Frank fell in love with turkeys on a visit to a nearby farm at the age of five. He began raising birds in the 1950′s, has maintained and improved his flock over the years and now has the oldest continuous strain of standard bred heritage turkeys in North America.

What makes Good Shepherd Ranch turkeys better than those other so-called “heritage” turkeys?
Frank Reese and his turkeys truly are one of a kind — no one breeds poultry better than Frank who stays true to 19th century Poultry Standards of Perfection. His rare Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red, White Holland, Black, Narragansett and Slate are renowned for their flavor. According to the USDA, Frank Reese remains the only farmer allowed to use the name “Heritage” on his USDA label thanks to certification by the oldest agricultural organization in North America, the American Poultry Association. Some other producers that claim to have a “heritage” flock actually cross breed the turkeys with more commercial breeds. Good Shepherd Ranch was also the first turkey farm to be certified by the prestigious Animal Welfare Institute. All of Frank’s birds live a long and slow-growing outdoor life that results in healthy and delicious turkey for your Thanksgiving table.

What do the turkeys eat?
The turkeys are fed an all-vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and growth hormones. The grain is milled just down the road from Good Shepherd Ranch at Custom Mills, an Amish grain mill.
The turkeys are pastured, meaning they are raised outdoors on the Kansas prairie. No pesticides or herbicides are ever used in the pasture or on the farm. Additionally, their outdoor lifestyle means that they eat more grass resulting in higher levels of the good omega-3 fatty acids.

When do I need to place my turkey order?
There is no cut-off date for ordering a turkey however, every year we sell out of turkey. We need to place our order with Good Shepherd Ranch in the next few weeks and while we are pretty good at predicting how many of each type of turkey we might sell it really helps us if you place your order as early as possible. Some sizes sell out faster than others. Should you need to change your order at a later date we can almost always accommodate you.

How big of a turkey will I need?
We recommend between 1 and 1 ½ pounds of turkey for every person at your Thanksgiving table. For example, if you are cooking for 8 adults, we would recommend a 10 to 11.99-pound turkey. That might seem like a lot but keep in mind that the yield on a turkey, once it is cooked and carved off of the bone, is only about half of its original weight before cooking.