There’s been so much going on around here! Which is a good thing, it keeps us busy and out of trouble… well, it keeps us busy.
The kids are back in 4H this year and Nik is raising turkeys to take to market. He tried Broilers last year. They were quite tasty but definitely have an expiration date. We had to take time out during the fair to slaughter because they couldn’t walk anymore. Not a pleasant thing. Since he’s planning on raising heritage breed Chocolate Turkeys next year, he figured this would be good practice.
We have heard that turkeys have a high fatality rate and the birds aren’t very bright. He has to have at least one turkey to sell at auction and he can have two birds in his pen. So we decided to get 6 turkey poults so that maybe we can have a nice home-raised Thanksgiving turkey on the table this year. Cover your ears, little turkey babies!!
Nik did some research and learned that if you raise turkey poults with baby chicks that the chicks will teach the poults how to eat and drink on their own. I thought it made the turkeys sound really dumb, I mean how can a bird not know how to eat or drink? But we went ahead and bought 6 Partridge Rock chicks to raise along with them. We’ll be butchering the chickens this fall to put in the freezer.
At first the chicks were afraid of the poults, but they all warmed up to each other. Good thing too. Turkeys are STUPID. We brought these cute little yellow balls of fluff home and put them in the brooder and showed them where the water was. Yep. Turkeys darn near drowned themselves. This one little bird ran to the water and stuck his whole head under the water. Then was sort of sputtering and making weird noises, I thought I was going to have to do turkey CPR. Then the brain-dead bird did it again and again! So, we filled the water bowl with small stones (not small enough that they might be able to eat them, cuz they would) so that they could only get little sips of water at a time. They fared only a little better at the food. They’d pick up pieces of food and drop them back down. Pretty soon they were taking after the chickens and learned all they needed to know. You’d even catch them scratching the ground trying to dig up treats!
Pretty soon they were big enough to move into a larger brooder to give them some running room.
We ended up losing two turkeys. One we’re just not quite sure what happened, Nik thinks it might have choked on his food (I can see that happening) and the other broke his legs trying to fly into the side of the metal brooder. They seem to be getting smarter with age (yay!! still keeping our fingers crossed) and are looking more and more like turkeys.
They are all feathered out now and doing great. We moved them into the chicken coop with the enclosure since they no longer need a heat lamp for warmth.
I know some people say you shouldn’t raise turkeys with chickens because of Black Head and other diseases that can spread between them. We haven’t had any issues (knocking on wood!) and we supplement them with vitamins and apple cider vinegar. We give them fresh greens and will eventually move them into the main pasture and yard once they get too big to fit through the coop door.
They are definitely getting smarter (double yay!!) or maybe the chickens are just teaching them a thing or two. Every evening before nightfall, the chickens and turkeys go into the coop and roost for the night. And to think that a couple weeks ago they didn’t even know how to get in the door!
Fair isn’t until August, so we’ll see what the summer brings us with the turkeys. We know that turkeys don’t tolerate the heat well so we put a large tarp over the enclosure to provide them with shade. Even though there’s a giant fir tree right by the coop, duh.
Pretty soon they will look like our neighbor’s turkey which we call Tom. They call him Roger. Oh well.