Turkey Meat : Turkey Talk!
Experts consider them as unintelligible birds, but the turkey meat is hailed as one of, if not the healthiest of meats.
Engineer Gil Victor P. Quizon, owner of Herbest Turkey Products, only started his business a year ago but based on his experiences, he said there is so much potential in raising this popular form of large poultry bird. Last Christmas alone, he has one customer who bought from him Php20,000 worth of dressed turkey. “At that time, I think I was able to butcher and dress about 200 heads of turkeys,” he disclosed. “My customers gave them as corporate gifts and I couldn’t fill the market anymore. Ako na mismo ang sumuko.
Turkey, as everyone knows, isn’t that popular in the Philippines as it is in other countries like the US, where it is considered a must staple during their Thanksgiving celebration and other official holidays. However, as Engr. Quizon explained, the continuous search for alternative healthy meats has made a lot of Filipinos interested in turkeys. Compared to chicken, turkey meat has practically no cholesterol, has higher percentage of protein and even has selenium, which according to nutritionists, is a natural antioxidant. “It’s almost a complete food,” Quizon enthused. :”Yun nga lang, the setback is, you just cannot sell them in the lower market. As of now, only the Pinoy AB market patronizes turkeys.”
One reason why the ordinary Pinoys still refuse to buy dressed turkeys is their price. While the average price of a large whole dressed chicken sells at around Php160.00 in supermarkets today, a large frozen dressed turkey (which is three or more times the chicken’s size) sells at around Php1,250.00. “Hindi pa yan, deboned,” Quizon quipped. “And unlike chicken where you can buy the meat on a per kilo basis, in turkey you have to buy the whole thing.”
The 67-year-old engineer clearly remembers that as a child, he was already fond of raising turkeys. But it was only last year when he rekindled his passion for turkey farming when a friend approached and offered him to buy turkeys. “My first love was really agriculture,” he said. “I took up BS Agriculture at the Pampanga National College and later shifted to engineering so farming was close to my heart. When my friend offered me to buy his turkeys, I said yes. From three heads, the number increased. To date, I have around 1,000 heads of turkeys.”
Quizon raises different breeds of turkeys in his 3,500 square-meter farm in Antipolo, Rizal. The breeds include the Royal Palm, Bronze, Black and Narraganset, among others. According to Quizon’s research, the most saleable breed is the Black turkey, for which he is slowly starting to learn how to propagate. “Basta any natutunan ko rito, the environment should really be clean para hindi magkasakit ang mga birds,” he said. His raising approach was via the trial-and-error method, although a lot of his knowledge came from constant research through books and surfing the internet.
From his observation, Quizon concludes what the literature said about turkeys-they’re unintelligent birds. The Wikipedia encyclopedia, for example, noted that “during a storm, a turkey will look up in the sky until they drown.” This is something that Quizon has proven time and again. “Sometimes, during cold weather, they would put their bodies on top of each other until the one who is at the bottom would die. It’s like they don’t think at all. So, raising turkeys is really a delicate thing. Unlike other animals, they need extra care and attention because you have to constantly guide the birds”
As far as expenses is concerned, Quizon revealed that he spends Php1,0000 a day for feeds alone for 1,000 heads of turkeys. “Kung ano-ano ang binibili kong feeds. I have learned that while they’re still young, they have to be fed with at least 28% protein. So I’m still experimenting. Like in terms of spacing, I’ve read that in the States, the required spacing is around 0.6 squaremeter per bird. So I allotted a squaremeter for each of my 1,000 birds para may allowance.”
If there is one thing that Quizon is proud of in his Antipolo farm, it is the fact that he doesn’t use any chemical to raise his birds or his small herb garden. “I have five farm workers who live there,” he proudly told us. “They were the ones who helped me improve the facilities in our farm. We started with makeshift houses. Now we have toilets already. All our poultry wastes go to our poso negro which I eventually convert into gas.”
An instructive point in Engr. Quizon’s story is how his wife, Prima joined and helped him create valueadded products from turkeys. Because she loves to cook, Mrs. Quizon has concocted her own version of spaghetti sauce, hamburger, longganisa and other yummy meats from turkey. “She’s the one who cooks, reads a lot of recipes and does a lot of cooking experiments until she arrived at a particular taste for which the whole family will approve. We did a lot of taste tests for six months and then we slowly sold them, first to our friends and the public.”
When the husband and wife team decided to go into the turkey meat business seriously, “Herbest Turkey Products” was born. They started joining trade fairs to become more visible and when consumers noticed them, sales also started to pick up. Meanwhile, Engr. Quizon plans to expand his farm from a mere 3,500 square-meters to five hectares in a few years time. “My intention is really to employ more people who have no work. I will allot 1,000 square-meters to each one of them. They will raise the turkeys there. I will provide them with feeds and housing, and I will be the one to buy the turkeys from them. It will work out like a contract-growing scheme.”
The dream also includes a soft campaign to educate the public into the health benefits of eating turkey meat. “I’ve been reading in the internet, even cancer patients are being advised to eat turkey meat. It’s very rich in selenium. Every four ounce of meat, you get 45 grams of selenium. For the other turkey farmers, I would advice them, tiyaga lung talaga. Turkey raising is one endeavor where you would really lose your patience sometimes. Kasi nga, may paykn-dumb crng mga turkeys, that’s because their brains are so small. They would die if you don’t take extra care for them. But I tell you, the rewards far outweigh the difficulties.”
Turkey Breast Milk
Nutritional value per 100 g(3.5 oz)
Energy 100 kcal 440kJ
Carbohydrates 4.21 g
- Sugars 3.51 g
- Dietary fiber 0.5 g
Fat 1.66 g
Protein 17.07 g
Thiamine (Vit B1) 0.130 mg 10%
Ribolflavin (Vit B2) 0.320 mg 21%
Niacin (Vit B3) 0.110 mg 1%
Panothenic Acid (Vit B5) 0.166 mg 3%
Vitamin B6 0.128 mg 10%
Folate (Vit B9) 4 ug 1%
Vitamin C 5.7 mg 10%
Calcium 8 mg 1%
Iron 1.44 mg 12%
Magnesium 21 mg 6%
Phosphorous 162 mg 23%
Potassium 302 mg 6%
Zinc 1.33 mg 13%
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source : USDA Nutrient Database ; www.en.wikipedia.org