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Besides being popular to raise for Thanksgiving dinner, turkeys are a wonderful addition to the barnyard. Although not prolific layers, hens produce spotted gourmet-quality eggs and the iridescent feathers of the males can be used in feather crafts. The length of time it will take your turkey to begin laying eggs or be large enough to serve up for dinner will depend on its breed.
Some domesticated turkeys have been bred for rapid growth to be ready for the table after 14 weeks. The male turkeys weigh in at more than 40 pounds at this age and females are in the 35-pound range. Broad-breasted bronze and white turkeys are the two most widely available meat breeds. They are not good egg layers and can grow too large to support their weight with their legs.
Heritage turkey breeds such as the Narrangansett or royal palm mature much more slowly than the broad-breasted breeds. At 28 weeks, the poults are ready for the table with males weighing in at a little more than 20 pounds and females about 8 pounds lighter. These turkeys become sexually mature at 5 to 6 months of age and females will lay an egg every other day in the spring and early summer beginning at 6 or 7 months old.
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