Several years ago, we had a few turkeys we had obtained from a neighbor. I just loved my big ol’ male turkey named “Turk!” He would sit in my lap and peck mosquitoes before they ever had a chance to land on me. He’d follow me around hoping for a rub or a pat and maybe a snack. He was just like a big feathered pup. Sadly, he died and I have not had another turkey since, that is until now!
Some interesting facts about the turkey:
Turkeys are highly social animals. They want to have other turkeys in their flock and actually love for their humans to be part of that flock as well. They form lasting social bonds with their flock mates!
Wild turkeys can fly up to 55mph but only for short distances, and their territory range can span over 12,000 acres with the turkey able to cover 200-1000 acres in one day!
The turkey can vocalize over 20 distinct sounds, including the “gobble” which can be heard a mile away! Individual turkeys have unique voices and can recognize each other by the sound of their voice!
The bare skin on a turkeys throat and head can vary in color depending on their stress or excitement! When excited, a male’s head turns blue and when ready to fight it turns red! The long fleshy object over a male turkeys beak is called a snood.
When I went to purchase my five little turkeys, I really only wanted one or two males. I read online that the males have more of a square head and females a more triangular head. That was not so easy to distinguish when looking upon a brooder full of chicks. So I tried to determine their sex by the size of their beginning snood bump. I am not sure if this is a good indicator or not but in a few months I will be able to know for sure. One of the fun things about being a first time farmer with no mentor, there is a lot of experimenting and trial and error to learn how to do things.
I have had the poults about a week now and I can see how much more social they are than the chicks. The chicks rarely pay me any attention but my poults huddle toward me to get a finger scratch through the pen wire and will follow my hand along the side of the pen waiting for me to put a few grass seeds on my fingers so they can peck them off. I put my hands in the cage and they like to huddle down under my hands, popping their heads out to look around every once in a while. They go right to sleep when I hold them on my chest under my hand.
I believe I have become their adopted momma! They also seem to want to follow me when I go to leave, all huddling back into the corner and peeping towards me. I can’t wait until they are bigger and I can turn them out in the yard to follow me around!
I keep them in a cage with a heat lamp on my porch for now, with puppy pads under the raised cage to catch the droppings. The lamp draws up bugs at night. They excitedly chase after the insects and gobble them right up! (excuse the pun ) I have another pen that I set them in out in the yard to peck at grass and seeds.
My Aussie, Kelev, watching over the babies while they are in the yard
The insects supplement the poults diet by adding protein. I use a non medicated chick starter (this is all my local feed store had) which is not high enough protein for turkeys. From what I have read, the advised feed for poults should have 22 – 24% protein, chick starter only has 18%. I like the idea of the poults getting all natural bugs to supplement their diet. I wonder if I could make my own “poult starter” (maybe that can go on my “to-be-able-to-do-one-day” list. ) Right now I am working with what I have available.
Getting “back to basics” is hard. All I have to go on is what I can read, I have no background knowledge to speak of. I am sure I will make mistakes along the way but as my daughter says…
FAIL just means First Attempt In Learning!!
Blessings to you,
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