Note: We made the decision this last year to sell our flock of Royal Palms to another family, an enthusiastic young couple that wants to raise heritage turkeys. We felt it was best to limit our focus to the two other breeds on the farm. We kept only our old hen, as we didn’t think it fair to subject her to the stress of a move to a new farm. At what we guess to be 11 or more years of age,”Beautiful” (mentioned below) passed away this last summer and was buried in “Handsome”s grave in our farm’s pet cemetery. These wonderful birds began our journey with heritage turkeys….we are pleased to know that they continue on elsewhere.
Information on the Royal Palm breed can be found at the ALBC’s website page for this breed .
Updated January 2011
Our Royal Palms
Our entire turkey saga began with Royal Palms, when a good friend and animal rescuer had to
find a new home for a Royal Palm tom she had rescued. Neighbor’s
complaints about the gobbling had left her with less than a day to put
“Handsome” somewhere else…our farm! We built him a pen, and a house.
He followed us everywhere, always extremely occupied with displaying
his fine feathers for us. He’s a good bird, but as is the case with
many turkeys, “the lights are on but nobody’s home.” Handsome was lonely, and (to put it delicately) we began to detect signs that he was longing for female company.
We located a local professor of Animal Science who happened to possess
a Royal Palm hen. He was kind enough to give us “Beautiful” in exchange
for a pair of future offspring. Offspring? In 2003 we hadn’t actually thought
about that! But, nature took its course and eleven fluffy chicks
hatched in early July. Next came the problem of, what to do with
thirteen turkeys? We are meat eaters, but we have never considered
killing our own animals for food. Which led to asking why, exactly, not? We
are well acquainted with what practices are common on the part of Big
Poultry Growers and frankly, we feel there is very little protection
for the welfare of poultry and a lot of suffering occurs. If we did
learn to kill our own birds, we would have to face the discomfort of
where our food comes from. Yet, it would be 100% better for the birds
So for Thanksgiving dinner 2004, we ate three of our birds. Finding out
the most humane means by which to kill a turkey was an odyssey of its
own. It may sound silly, but deeply caring
about your animals and still choosing to eat them was a complex
personal journey. With books like Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” being widely read, this concept is more widely discussed than when we originally faced our dilemmas. I guess it can be said that “we found our way.”
Young Royal Palms (5mo-6mo) are fleshed like a very
large chicken. Since they run and fly, their wings and thighs are
somewhat tougher than if they were crammed in a house with 3,000 other
birds (considering the alternative, that’s fine with us). The flavor
was simply outstanding; they were our first experience with eating poultry
raised on excellent food, no antibiotics, and relative freedom.
To this day we still have our original hen and tom, which will always be home with us. “Beautiful” is quite old now, at least 8 years that we know of, but she still potters around the yard. “Handsome” still struts around all day, every day. We also kept carefully selected some progeny to breed as well, looking for good maternal traits and robust body type. Royal Palms are strikingly beautiful but rather neurotic; every little occurrence in the yard is “something to talk about”. They can brood eggs and chicks with the best of them, but cannot be overly disturbed or interfered with. At this time, Royal Palms are the least endangered breed we raise, so we have placed our efforts on keeping them, but at minimal populations, in order to make more room for our other breeds.