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Monticello Turkeys are Almost Ready for Thanksgiving
We're just weeks away from the holiday season and what would a Thanksgiving feast be without a plump, juicy turkey. Caveny Farm near Monticello has been raising Bourbon Red Heritage turkeys for over a decade.
"I used to never really like turkey until we started raising these, but they're really...they're really good," said John Caveny, co-owner of Caveny Farm. In just over a month, these 720 turkeys will end up on dinner tables all over the state. "We take turkeys to pick-up points in Chicago and Geneva the Saturday before Thanksgiving and the Saturday before Christmas. Prairie Foods Farm has a pickup point locally here and of course if you pick one up at the farm, which you're certainly welcome to do, there's a $9 credit per bird," said Caveny.
The birds were hatched the first week of April. Caveny Farm is American Humane Certified, which means they use no antibiotics. The turkeys are raised naturally. "They're not debeaked. They're not declawed so they can get out and eat grass, scratch in the dirt," said Caveny. Caveny says Bourbon Red Turkeys used to be the most popular bird for Thanksgiving, but because they take longer to reach market size and they require a lot more feed than Broad Breasted turkeys, they fell out of favor. But Caveny says it's worth the extra time and money it takes to raise Bourbon Red Turkeys because they simply taste better. "It's kind of like the difference between a Volkswagon and a Cadillac or something like that...they're both cars, but one is a completely different animal," said Caveny.
The feathers on Caveny's turkeys are clipped on the right-hand wing to prevent them from flying. "They will roost in trees or on top of buildings if they can get up that high. So by clipping the feathers on one wing, it makes them off balance and they're more inclined to stay on the ground," said Caveny.
And roosting is also the reason for the unique pens. On a trip to Italy, Caveny met a poultry farmer from Africa who told them about this style of turkey enclosure. "With this A-shape though, the turkeys really can't climb up on the roof. You know we think as far as making the pens last longer by not having the turkeys roost on them that's a good deal," said Caveny.
And with the long-lasting pens, Caveny can raise turkeys for a long time...a job he truly enjoys. "Even though I've got a bird called a turkey, these turkeys are really something different," said Caveny.
Caveny says he became interested in turkeys because of the Slow Food Heritage Turkey Program that started in the late 1990's. Caveny says he sells out of the birds every year.Wednesday, April 23 2014, 10:23 AM CDT