Forrest Pritchard is a full-time sustainable farmer and New York Times bestselling author, holding a BA in English and a BS in Geology from William & Mary. Smith Meadows, his farm, was one of the first “grass finished” operations in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in Washington DC for nearly two decades. Pritchard's first two books received starred reviews from The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and NPR, and his latest book is set to debut in 2018.

15 responses to “Pastured Turkey Basics”

  1. Graham

    Wow! I wished we were able to get food here in Australia as cheaply as you guys get it over there. I’d pay $84 for a 12lb pastured turkey without a problem as over the same pastured turkey will costs me $144 which makes a turkey dinner very expensive!!

    Great article on raising turkeys though. Do you use the same alley based rotation system for turkeys as you do for chickens or do you have larger paddocks that you rotate them through? How long do you leave a paddock before allowing the turkeys back onto it?

  2. Steve


    What does it mean to have “virtually no leg issues”?


    City Slicker

  3. sixpinesfarm

    Hi Forrest,

    I wanted to thank you first of all for your awesomely written book, Gaining Ground. I enjoyed it so much and learned even more. I put in several late nights reading!
    Thank you for this great article on pastured turkeys. As a small farmer in Ontario, Canada, I am limited to only being allowed to raise 50 turkeys per year. I think because of that, we don’t get a lot of other small farmers writing articles or anything about raising pastured turkeys. Your turkey tips will be a big help to me for when I raise my next batch in the spring!

    Six Pines Farm

  4. Denise Shideler

    Forrest, are we still able to order a turkey from you? I’m late, I know! We are close, in Winchester, and have enjoyed your products. Met your mom one evening when we came out to buy some meat and pasta.

  5. Arnold

    I heard a radio program this morning which said heritage turkeys are black, blue, and anything other than white. Which breed do you raise?

  6. Celeste Hampton

    Almost finished with your book! Thank you for addressing so many of my exact concerns! I have 3 acres, with one and a half forestted. Can I keep chickens and goats here?

  7. foodfightfarm

    Do you raise heritage breeds? If so, at what age do you butcher and what’s their average dressed weight? Thanks!

  8. Vaishali

    I own a 20 acre farm in India and would like to raise turkeys. Can anyone help me find a buyer?

  9. Chris glasspool

    Our first year raising Midget Whites, and I question regarding snow, cold and shelter; Do they need a roof over at night, and do they need a windbreak at night? Difficult because they fly well, and I have a feeling they would simply roost on the roof instead of under. Also, creating a windbreak six to ten feet up is a bit daunting. We get our first snowstorm on Tuesday, and so far they have done fine in a stable 28 to 32 degrees that have held for two weeks straight – What do you think?

    1. Chris glasspool

      I agree, and when I kept chickens those parameters were easy to research, but with heritage turkeys, the two books I have show open air roosts, of very tall construction. Turkeys are naturally suspicious of any sided protections, and can fly very high. At least the type I keep (Midget Whites), can clear a house in flight, and have an instinct to always roost on the highest area, so they find the 15 foot ridge line on top of the chicken house, and the eight foot top of fences without a top (welded wire just bends over slightly as they sit on it), so I built them a twenty foot long roost, made of two by fours, and they use it, but it doesn’t protect them from snow, or wind. I’m curious as to your construction? I realize an old three sided barn would work because of the size, but that isn’t economically viable for a couple of dozen turkeys. I have seen drawing of roost with tarps surrounding but that’s a never ending job of tarp replacement in my area, plus with heavy winds – loose tarps would start a turkey stampede.

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