/ Modified nov 19, 2013 8:12 a.m.

Northwest Farmer Raises Heritage Turkeys

Hobby farmer Marcia Lincoln is involved in every aspect of birds' life; sells turkey meat, eggs.


Raising back yard chickens is a trend that's been growing in the past several years, but few have ventured into keeping back yard turkeys.

Marcia Lincoln, who lives in northwest Tucson, is an exception. She keeps several varieties of heritage turkeys in her back yard.

Since the 1950s, one variety of turkey has become ubiquitous among commercial producers: the broad-breasted turkey. It is a variety that puts on weight quickly, can be processed young, and must be artificially inseminated in order to reproduce.

The broad-breasted turkey comprises most of the turkey meat that Americans consume, but the American Poultry Association recognizes total of eight. Other varieties- such as the bourbon red, royal palm and slate- are considered "heritage" by the APA.

Lincoln is raising a few dozen of these heritage varieties. From a small back yard operation she calls hobby farm, Lincoln sells turkey meat and even turkey eggs.

"That's what I like about raising my own birds," she said. "I can raise them in a humane way. I know that they are taken care of, they have adequate space and they are getting a good diet."

Lincoln is involved in every aspect of their life. She raises them from poults, and provides them with organic feed. When the time comes to eat some meat or fill a customer's order, she processes the birds herself.

"Many people are much more aware of the food that they're eating," she said. "So, they want to be more in control of what goes into (the animals') food."

Heat and predators are her two biggest challenges of raising poultry in the desert, but Lincoln has built completely enclosed pens with lots of shade and water.

While not financially lucrative, she said she is pleased to be able to take care of her birds the way she wants, and appreciates the taste of a well-fed, grown to maturity bird.

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