Sunday, November 7, 2010

Turkey Updates

I have had several people ask about when the turkeys will be ready. Since we want them fresh and fat we will wait as long as possible to do this. The Weekend before Thanksgiving most likely. That said I'll be contacting an Amish farmer today to set this up. In the mean time here are some updates.

A few weeks ago, Larry told me had read that turkeys responded to music. So Maddy and I took my laptop outside and put on the Bee Gees and the Stones, The turkeys were out free ranging and came running over the porch where the laptop was sitting and were completely silent as the music played curiously listening.
One can also call to them and they respond nicely with a group response. Listen here. There are 2 videos here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The ongoing predator problem.

The good news is we have lost no more animals this past week. The turkeys look great fattening nicely and the males are strutting their stuff for the females. Puffing up those feathers and walking around like the true birds they are. I got say though, these birds are a gas to watch.
The birds are contained in a large dog kennel now that is moved around so the droppings don't fall in the same place and they can have fresh forage each day. They receive a high protein anti-biotic free feed and they eat a lot, on top of the forage.
In comparison the chickens get about 16-18% protein along with free ranging for bugs and plants. They also receive extra light in the form of a light inside the house at night on a timer, in order to get them to lay eggs. When the sunlight drops below 12 hours they stop laying. The turkeys on the other hand need at least 20% protein and will not willing eat the same mix the chickens eat. They have a real affection for leaves that drop from the trees though. They will actually fight over falling leaves. Which I find fascinating, since typically this occurs in the fall and we as a population eat these birds at Thanksgiving and at Christmas.

The predator problem persists, last night the coyotes where out and you could hear them at the edge of the woods behind the house. Our greatest problem has been by far the raccoons. They climbed the cage and got in by pushing back the mesh on the top of the cage and once they had killed a bird/turkey they where then not easily dissuaded from returning.
The turkeys now have a large wooden house that latches shut at night. It is not safe to leave them in anything other than a closed house with a latch after dark. The raccoons seem quite resourceful and I have visions of them plotting as a group. They know how to use tools and are willing to take a rock and beat the daylights out the chicken pen roof until the nails come out. So it is no surprise they seem able to get through most of what we have tried.

When they couldn't get to the turkeys last week, they took to killing the ducks. So both the ducks are now gone. First we lost one duck and Larry caught it in the act. He was not able to get a shot off before the raccoon had drug the animal through the back of the fence and killed it. This was so sad for the remaining duck since they mate for life.
Mr. Duck looked for close to a week for his mate before he committed suicide by going under the chicken house and refusing to come out at dark. We would normally pen up the ducks, but he left us a note about not wanting to go on with out his love-mate and a bunch of existential crap about life's meaning. So when we tried to find him the next morning it was clear he had sacrificed himself to the raccoon gods. And they willing accepted his sacrifice.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

We lost a turkey today! So now there are 15!

Well it's week 4 and the birds look like miniature turkeys. When larger animals come around they puff up their chests, and fan out their tails to make them selves appear larger. We moved them into the large dog kennel and this way they can be moved to various locations for fresh ranging through out the property. When we came home today and checked on them it appears a varmit has made a whole and eaten one. Nothing left but feathers of turkey 16. Raccoon during the day? Maybe, not sure! We are putting up a motion detector with floods and hopefully at night that wil scare any predators off.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Here they are on the porch for the night. They seem ready to start roosting. We placed several pieces of wood for them to climb up on.

Sunday afternoon we drove out to the orchard to get apples and peaches for canning. On the way back we saw several small wild turkeys. The mother was giving what looked like flying lessons. The wild turkeys flew directly in front of us and then up into trees along side the road. So it appears we will need to both trim the flight feathers and cover their pen when they are ready, in couple more weeks, to be moved into the large out door pens. As you can see the gentle fuzz of their coats has turned to feathers.

Turkey pullets are much like baby chicks in appearance. But with in a week that changes as the neck begins to elongate and the feathers arrive. In the first week our primary concern was keeping them warm and protected from predators. The raccoon population is quite prolific and they seem to be capable of planning and using tools to achieve their goals, of getting into anything that they want. So for the first 3 weeks we kept them in a dog cage inside our screened porch. They cry like babies when they run out of food or water or are frightened. So when they were mature enough to move from such a enclosed environment, it could not have come soon enough. The chirping at night was driving us nuts. As long as they were dry, fed, warm, and in the dark they were quiet. But if we went out to get in the hot tub or doors slammed they were up and squawking.

At one month now they spend most of the day in the yard in two dog pens hooked together. There they can get to some grassy areas and eat bugs. This cuts down on the need for feed and reduces the amount of cleaning up after them, that we have to do. At night we move them into a single pen and back up onto a covered porch area. Yesterday it rained a lot and there were many back and forth trips. Today it is sunny and they are loving it out in the yard. They still need a bit of shade and so as the sun moves we move them . We've placed some cover over the top of the pens so they can get some protection from the sun if they are too warm.
Since turkeys are not the brightest we've hung the water container on a coated flexible piece of wire from the top of the cage to keep them from walking into the tray and pooping in it.