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“I fell in love with the old breeds,” Mr. Reese said. “They are far more beautiful, and they are far more practical than the genetically engineered, morbidly obese industrial turkeys that you buy at the store.”

Mr. Reese said heritage turkeys generally take five to seven months to reach market weight. His average tom is about 18 to 22 pounds; hens are 12 to 14 pounds. A Broad Breasted White can reach 20 pounds in just three months, but the rapid growth and added bulk means it can barely walk, let alone fly.

The Battles, who also raise lambs, sheep and pigs on their Massachusetts farm, said they found buyers for the 20 heritage turkeys they raised this year but do not expect to turn a profit — despite the hefty price of $8 per pound they charge.

Not breeders themselves, the couple orders birds in the spring from a Wisconsin breeder. The day-old chicks are shipped to them by U.S. mail.

The Battles use only organic feed for their animals, increasing the expense of raising them. But even heritage turkeys that are not raised organically can cost customers $4 to $7 per pound — with additional expenses for shipping if there are no local suppliers — a far cry from supermarket turkeys that generally sell for less than a dollar per pound.

Even if the Battles aren’t making money on the turkeys, they say the effort is worth it.

“If you don’t use these heritage breeds, they die off, and all you are going to be left with is these Broad Breasted White birds that can’t walk on their own and can’t breed on their own,” Mrs. Battles said.

Preserving the older breeds was one of the reasons that compelled Stella Park of Lexington, Mass., and her husband to order a Thanksgiving turkey from the Battles for a second year in a row. But another reason was flavor.

“They taste really good. They make amazing broth,” said Mrs. Park, adding that her two young children loved the turkey noodle soup made from leftovers last year.