Posted in Ducks & Other Birds, Hen Pecked

Some Common Problems with Raising Turkeys

This past year, I got turkeys. I bought five Bronze, to raise up for Meat and five Bourbon and two Royal Palms—just to raise for eggs, maybe to butcher, and perhaps, incubate and sell poults to put towards the “feed Fund” of the small farmette I have going on here. . If you have bought Turkeys or are about to buy them, then no doubt you have researched and learned all about “Blackhead disease”, the “fragile stages of Turkey Poults”, Feed types and whether or not they can be or if you will “Raise them with Chickens.” No doubt, you will have had decided most of this if you haven’t been doing it all along. I wanted to talk about some things—other problems—that might come up with Raising Turkeys. Things that are funny and things that will drive you bonkers.

First off, one thing I have learned about my Bourbons and Royal Palms – especially, those Palms—they are Houdini’s, without a doubt. I don’t care if you built a structure like Alcatraz. Get ready, because those Turkeys will find a way around it. Now, that being said, I free range my turkeys some.  I have a pretty big garden that I fenced in and I put a dog kennel inside it that I can move around. The reason behind this madness – One, when I got the turkeys, I didn’t have a permanent structure built yet. Two, I didn’t know if I wanted one. And Three, I thought, “Why not let the turkeys help fertilize the Garden for next Spring?” This is the structure we built up. You can see it in the Background sitting inside the fenced in Garden.

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It’s not beautiful, but it does the job AND we can move it around the garden. I also dump my soiled rabbit bedding in there. I can’t wait to see what happens come Spring. BUT, this does present a problem or did. My Turkeys found out they can hop on the roosting sticks and then fly through a slit in the tarp above. We would seal and tighten the Tarps, but sure enough, the Turkeys found another one. Except my Bronze. They can’t fly that well. The feathers on their wings haven’t come in that great – even at 17 weeks—and they are rather heavy. But those Bourbans and Royal Palms? Gone like the wind every chance they get.

Now, at first I didn’t mind it and at first, I didn’t care. After all, they believed their Mother was a chicken. A Polish Chicken at that…

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AND they thought their sisters and one brother were a bunch of Black Australorps, who they were raised up with, too.

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And again, I thought it was HALARIOUS, the older they got, the more they loved to socialize with ME. If I was washing dishes, here they came, up on the Porch, just pestering me to come out and muck around with them.

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At night, my husband and my kids would laugh as it sounded like a stampede on top of our Roof. Yes, no matter how high the house, Turkeys love to Roost. Mine never even bothered with the Apple Trees or Hickory. They love the porch and the roof.

And, like I said, they were raised up with the chickens, so all of them got along as well. Except when they didn’t…

It started with a chicken, here or there, of those who weren’t the Australorps. Like a band of wolves, my Turkeys would go after that poor little chicken and without distraction, would bully them till they had them pinned in a fence or who knows where else. After pinning them, they wouldn’t let up. They would hold the chicken down—ALL OF THEM—and pluck the thing till it was bald. They’d grab the skin from the neck, and I feared, they would have ripped it’s head clean off. The chicken wouldn’t have been doing a thing, either. Could have been on the other side of the yard, but sure enough, one of the Turkeys would get a chip on it’s shoulder and take off, the others right behind, and pick a fight that seemed like it would never end. I even seen them trap one whose neck went through the fence. Swear, they would have killed that little thing if I didn’t run to save it.

It was only a matter of time, though, before they turned on the Australorps. Yesterday was that day. They had my Roo, who is not aggressive at all, pinned. They wouldn’t let up and even though I broke it up, I barely walked away and they were back at it again. Something had to be done. They were getting too aggressive with the other animals. They had to stay in the Garden.

CLIP the WINGS!!!!! I had been considering this for a few weeks now especially since I had someone come to my house to get their hair done only to find a bunch of turkeys jump the fence to bombard their vehicle. They thought it was funny but I knew not everyone would think so. Also, the amounts of poo on my back porch, on my freezers and who knew how much on my roof – that was getting to be enough right there.

With some online searching, I found some great sites and links with videos and pictures of how to clip wings. Here’s a LINK to a page full. HERE is the LINK I used. This website, a Farm, has pictures and everything. All I used was a pair of kitchen scissors. My husband held the bird and I clipped. They didn’t freak out – except for when we were catching them—so it doesn’t hurt. YOU ONLY WANT TO CLIP ONE WING—or so the experts say. I’m trying their way, first. You only want to clip the one so they can’t get air to take flight. Will let you know if it doesn’t work.

Another thing you want to be warned about Turkeys is that they have some major, MAJOR, Attention Deficit Disorder.  Its either that, or they have multiple personalities. One is as brilliant as Einstein and the other is as dumb as a box of rocks. Which is weird, because when they pick a fight with a chicken, that chicken can run, run, run and that Turkey won’t let us. This can go on forever. And while some of you out there have some pet turkeys and don’t agree, I’m telling you, mine will fascinate me by breaking out of a pin in the most clever of ways but then get stupid when it comes to something as simple as crossing a fence.

Yes, a Turkey will fly a fence just as graceful and as easy as you please, but then it will pace the fence on the other side until it’s left a path of dirt or mud. (Great if you have weeds growing up.) But it will do this for absolute hours. Complete dumb as to how to get back to the other side. And it does the same things three or four times a day—every day. Fly with clever grace but then pace like a brain dead zombie.

So, if you are thinking about Turkeys, I can promise you, there wont be a dull moment. *winks*

 

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