Local turkeys destined for Thanksgiving dinners

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Only one of three turkeys being raised for the holidays was butchered at the Bowman Farm this weekend, much fewer than the hundreds of birds processed at Tom Delehanty and Tracy Hamilton’s Pollo Real poultry farm on Hope Farms Road in Socorro last week.

Karen Bailey-Bowman/El Defensor Chieftain: Bill Stone, Fred Phillips and David Stone pluck a Thanksgiving turkey at the Bowman Farm in Polvadera on Sunday afternoon. Hundreds of turkeys were processed in Socorro at the Pollo Real Farm last week.

“We processed 700 turkeys last week at the farm in Socorro,” Delehanty said. Tuesday, he and his wife were selling turkeys at the Santa Fe Farmers Market, but some fresh turkeys will be available for last-minute purchase at his farm in Socorro on Wednesday.

“We will have extra turkeys left,” he said. “They are heritage turkeys, so they are smaller: 7- to 11-pound hens, and 15- to 16-pound toms.”

Interested customers can call Delehanty at (505) 550-3123 today.

Delehanty sells turkeys locally for $5.50 per pound. That may seem a lot to people used to supermarket turkeys selling for less than a dollar a pound, but pasture-raised heritage turkeys take much longer to raise — about six months — as opposed to the three months required for the standard white turkeys commercial growers raise for the supermarket trade, he said.

“Our turkeys are not certified organic, but they are pasture raised,” he said. They are omnivores, and eat a lot of greens as they roam outside in their portable pens at the farm. The result is a more flavorful bird raised in humane conditions.

Every year, the Pollo Real turkeys are herded from their pasture to the processing plant around the corner on Hope Farms Road.

“We drove about 300 turkeys down Otero Road last week,” Delehanty said. He had five turkey wranglers herding the birds, which stopped traffic for several minutes.

Delehanty selects 60 to 70 birds from the herd for next year’s breeding stock.

“We have standard bronze and Spanish black turkeys on the farm,” he said. “We let them cross-breed.”

Every spring, he incubates hundreds of eggs, brooding the resulting chicks and turkey poults in one of four repurposed mobile homes on the farm. The farm also raises a few of the familiar white commercial turkeys.

In January, Socorro’s Pollo Real Farm will be the subject of a PBS special to be aired nationally.

“We will be on Episode 819 of ‘America’s Heartland,’” said Delehanty’s wife, Tracy Hamilton. The show airs on Sundays at 8:30 a.m. She said people should check the local PBS station for the date.

The husband and wife team are opening a meat market and charcuterie in Santa Fe at the end of January next to La Montanita Coop Market. They have already rented a house behind La Montanita for themselves and staff.

They plan to sell heritage New Mexico-grown lamb, beef, poultry and pork, as well as soups, stocks and prepared meat items. A full-service restaurant is also in the works at the location.

But the family plans to keep their base of operation close to home.

“We are still going to be in Socorro with the poultry farm,” Delehanty said.