Last year we ran only Broad-breasted white turkeys. They were very entertaining, easy to sell but hard for us to manage. This year we are only raising a few…so if you want one you should speak up soon.
Turkeys are very fragile animals. Give them any excuse…any excuse at all and they’ll die. In spite of this we harvested 19 of the 20 birds Sunray hatchery shipped us (#20 broke a leg at about 3 weeks and I put him down). This year we ordered 5 white and 5 bronze turkeys from our friends at Schlecht. These ten arrived with our latest batch of 300 broilers. Unfortunately, one chick and one bronze turkey didn’t survive the post office…further reinforcing our decision to drive to Iowa to pick up or next order in August.
We have moved out of the greenhouse into the outdoor brooders. It can still be a bit chilly in the evenings so for the first few days we cover the ends with plastic (plastic we found out in the pasture that was used for round bales years ago). All 300 are in one 8×8 for now. Soon we’ll split them between the two brooders but early on they like to be close.
Can you spot the turkey? Look for the one that has the start of a snood.
This one is easier:
Here are a few close-ups.
Keep your fingers crossed. We are still pretty nervous about raising turkeys. They are so fragile.
If you have heard or read that turkeys should not be raised with chickens…well, we heard that too. But it works and works well. The chickens seem to show the turkeys what to do. Joel Salatin talks about it at 5:00 in this video:
Don’t be afraid to get yourself a few turkeys to raise with your broilers. Once they are out of the brooder they are pretty durable. One turkey faught off a raccoon last year, removing the raccoon’s eye. Be careful because they seem to go from 15 pounds to 25 pounds overnight. We found it’s a little harder to market a 25 pound bird than it is a 18 pound bird.
We had so much trouble with our turkeys, but the ten remaining are really thriving in the chicken tractors at this point. Good luck withyours! BTW, the processing equipment came in yesterday.
I know you’re ready to try it out. How long until the chickens are big enough?
they are 4.5 weeks right now, so Another four weeks or so I think.
A raccoon fighting turkey I hope you kept him for breeding stock ! Could be a whole new species of livestock guardians 😉 Joking aside do you have a dog?
Just a little house dog. He exists to teach our children the difference between animals we love and animals we eat.
That is one tough lesson you will have to blog about. I know a few kids (and adults) that don’t want to eat “Henny” but will eat store bought chicken