broad breasted and heritage turkeys

We believe that BN Ranch turkeys, both Heritage and Broad Breasted, can be raised in a humane and environmentally responsible manner that produces the highest quality meat. To achieve this, we are dedicated to harvesting turkeys at their peak condition, after a gradual growth period which not only defines the muscle texture and taste, but provides a nurturing environment for the turkeys to be raised in. For Broad Breasted White turkeys this is typically 16-18 weeks, while for Heritage turkeys it is 22-30 weeks. They are fed only a slow growth, vegetarian, Non-GMO Project Verified diet, based on wheat, sunflower/safflower, peas, and organic soy. Our R&D department is actively exploring ways to provide this diet without using the two mass-produced monocrops of the poultry industry: corn and soy.

All BN Ranch turkeys are raised to the very highest humane standards. This means individual care to the very last detail, a low stress environment, a healthy supply of fresh feed and water at all times, ample outdoor access where the turkeys can exhibit their natural behaviors such as grazing, dusting, scratching, and roosting, and plenty of direct contact with our handlers to make sure the turkeys are happy, healthy, and nurtured. At the time of harvest we do everything possible to minimize the stress on the turkeys, strongly considering distance and handling when making decisions.

Our consideration for the environment includes a partially solar powered ranch, and manure recycling in the almond orchards and pastures nearby. Our diets are optimized to reduce nutrient waste, and our production system is located as proximate as possible.

How do you define free range?

USDA

The USDA requires free range poultry to have access to the outdoors. The following are not considered in the definition: outdoor space environment, amount of time outdoors, length of time with outdoor access and crowding. While we use the term free range, our practices go well beyond the USDA's definition. 

Genuine free range

BN turkeys are housed in spacious barns at low stocking densities. They grow from poults in a nurturing and attentive environment while learning to express their natural behaviors. After 6-8 weeks of age, they have unrestricted access to the outdoors: the barn popholes open to grass and dirt pens of equal size to the barns. Through the remainder of their lives, they are free to roam indoors and outdoors where they can graze, roost, and peck as they please.

What is a heritage turkey?

The Livestock conservancy

The Livestock Conservancy is a nonpartisan organization that has defined many heritage breeds in order to conserve traditional breeds, their genetics, and their agricultural systems. The organization requires all heritage turkeys to be the result of two generations of natural mating, have the genetic ability to live a long productive outdoor lifespan, and develop a strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass due to a slow growth rate.

BN heritage turkeys

Our breeding stock comes directly from Frank Reese - a pioneer in the preservation of the heritage breeds - and has been approved by The Livestock Conservancy as a heritage breeding flock. A mixture of Standard Bronze, Narragansett and Spanish Black breeds ensures our production birds will have a wealth of genetic diversity to develop into robust and healthy birds. They are managed in a pasture system on the coast of Northern California at Bill and Nicolette Niman's ranch. We feed them a breeder ration of the same ingredients as our production birds, and maintain their well-being throughout the year, giving them the attention and care they deserve. Come breeding time, we allow them to mate naturally and hatch the eggs for our Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday production. This seasonal process doesn’t allow for year round production of Heritage turkeys, but make them an exceptional Thanksgiving and Christmas offering.

are bn broad breasted turkeys heirloom turkeys?

HEIRLOOM

The term "Heirloom" can be somewhat ambiguous, but typically refers to a colored Broad Breasted turkey, which has many of the traits of the white Broad Breasted commercial turkey.

BN Broad Breasted Turkeys

BN Ranch has taken an interest in Bronze Broad Breasted turkeys in the search for hardier commercial varieties which will perform well in an outdoor environment alongside our Heritage Turkeys. As a result of this we have placed flocks of Orlopp Bronze turkeys which have done quite well for us. We will also continue to place our typical offering of white Broad Breasted turkeys.

We receive all our Broad Breasted turkeys as poults (day old turkeys) from a commercial hatchery. As the most widely used breed in industrial farming operations, Broad Breasted turkeys are bred for production and have lost their ability to reproduce due to the enlarged size of their breast muscle. The genetics of commercial turkeys are tightly controlled, and the breed has undergone strong traditional selection, much like today's vegetables, so that they exhibit high uniformity and homogeneity in the characteristics commercial operations prize: fast growing, good feed to meat conversion rate, and large size. We feel that we can still offer these birds as a service by treating them with respect, giving them far more space than a commercial operation, access to the outdoors, and a non-GMO feed ration. We neglect commercial guidelines which focus on converting tons of feed and floor space into as many pounds of meat as possible, instead prizing animal welfare, the highest standard of care, and a healthy, happy flock. 

 

DO YOU USE ANTIBIOTICS?

Steve Clausen on antibiotic use in BN Ranch Turkeys:

Animals grown in a more concentrated environment, just like humans in towns or cities, have the potential for exposure to bacterial and sometimes viral infections during their life. At BN Ranch we try to provide an environment that minimizes the chances of this happening but recognize that there is always a risk of bacterial infections. When and if they occur, the animals need to be treated rather than left to suffer. These animals are in our care and need to be treated with the utmost respect for their health and comfort.

We feed a slow growth, vegetarian, pelleted feed without any sub-therapeutic antibiotics or other growth promoters, designed to reduce the stress caused by fast growth and the pressure such rapid growth puts on the skeletal, immune and respiratory systems in turkeys. When coupled with lower stocking densities and smaller flocks we try to provide an environment that removes many of the disease challenges normally associated with the growing of turkeys. 

Vaccines play an important part in our health management program and will be used, when necessary, to mitigate the effect that viruses and bacterial or protozoan challenges can have on the health of a flock of our turkeys. We also use a probiotic that encourages the prolific colonization of good bacteria in the “gut”, excluding bad bacteria, reducing the risk of intestional based diseases that require the use of antibiotic treatment.

Our goal is to do our job properly, providing our turkeys with the right environment and supplemental assistance to live disease-free, comfortable lives.  If they do have a challenge it is our job to make certain that they receive the care they need immediately and are returned to good health in the shortest period of time possible.