THE Village's Idiot NA Heritage Turkey Coop Coupers Chat

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by CanuckBock, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. CanuckBock

    CanuckBock THE Village Ijit

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    Oct 25, 2013
    Alberta, Canada
    My Coop
    Heel low:

    Here is a tale full of my own personal experiences and opinions in regards to turkeys...heritage turkeys that is! [​IMG]

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    Our love affair with the Meleagris gallopavo began in earnest in 2008. We have had turkeys before but decided in the fall of 2007 to get a good line of heritage turkeys on the go. We searched for Mycoplasma (Chronic Respiratory Disease or infectious sinusitis) tested stock as our foundation and whilst there is no 100% guarantee on this or even Blackhead disease not being in the lines, we decided this time, to begin right the best we were able. [​IMG]


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    All of our boys (and one gal) helping us celebrate the Christmas season!


    We run a biosecure Conservation Farm (we are advocates of the theme, you must eat them to save them) and reside in the Great White North, Canada...the VILLAGE...

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    Temperatures here in Central Alberta, they range from 40C to -53C (104F to -63F)...turkeys here (although tender as poults, DO keep them warm, warmer than chicken chicks, eh) require NO extra heat when adults...they thrive just fine in all seasons; spring, summer, fall and winter.

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    The Turkey Barn...Pavo's Palace area


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    Veg Garden Coop


    The heritage turkeys are happy as larks here in the WHITE [​IMG]

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    And the GREEN [​IMG]

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    To begin our adventure, we imported three turkey breeds--note I said BREEDS, not "varieties" as listed by APA (American Poultry Association). Turkeys are a species, broken down into breeds (shape/characteristics) with varieties (feather colour patterns) from there. People kept different feather coloured flocks of turkeys because they often used them to weed fields, eat grasshoppers and debug tobacco fields. It made it extremely easy if you kept Blue Slates and your closest neighbour kept Bourbon Reds...you knew your birds by their colours. The term turkey trot refers to the moving of massive turkey flocks to market. Often headed by a wagon full of corn, the turkeys would follow along behind the wagon, travelling great distances to market, roosting at night on the wagon and in trees and carrying on again the next day. In the 1920's, one Texas flock of 8,000 turkeys was managed by 30 men; took two days to go the thirteen miles to market.



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    Heritage Turkey Poults
    June 2008​

    Some introductory material on heritage turkeys.

    Let's dash some basic myths...

    The biggest one I love to destroy is that the Broad Breasted "commercial factory farmed" turkeys have a larger percentage of (more) BREAST meat than the proper heritage turkeys do...NOPE, simply untrue!
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    Turkey breast meat (white) is lower in fat than the dark meat and the most highly valued of the turkey meat cuts. For decades now, the mythology would have you the consumer and keepers of turkeys all believe that broad breasted breeds (white or bronze) had a higher percentage of white meat compared to the heritage breeds. BWA HA HA...not so! [​IMG]

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    Commercial turkey TOM on the left...Heritage turkey HEN (yes, I used a female turkey in this test!) on the right

    The shape of the heritage turkey is different...this is why heritage turkeys may breed naturally, forage so well, live long prosperous outdoor existences...just are generally better happy healthy birds.

    I kept processing our home grown heritage turkey birds and wondering..."was it me...was it so, was there MORE choice white meat in the heritage birds?"...so I just had to find out for sure...was my hunch correct? Now was it? [​IMG]

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    October 7th, 2012 - Canadian Thanksgiving

    So I cooked TWO turkeys that holiday (much to the delight of my men folk and the dogs...YUMMY...lotsa turkey!). [​IMG]

    I chose a Lilac heritage turkey HEN (yes, a girl! and a commercial broad (ha!) breasted white TOM to cook. Identical conditions, in my own home.

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    Heritage hen white meat on left and Commercial tom white meat on right

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    Weighting the choice cuts of breast meat...

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    Heritage hen

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    Commercial tom

    The heritage hen weighed 9.5 pounds and the commercial tom weighed 14 pounds. Keep in mind, whilst the hen was smaller than the tom, overall we are more interested in the percentage of white meat produced by the actual turkey birds. She is heritage and he is suppose to be BROAD BREASTED...compared to what, not sure what BROAD BREASTED means but I am now pondering what kind of sic marketing ploy that entails. [​IMG]

    Maybe we need to RE-name the heritage breeds of turkey ... something like Heritage BONUS CHOICE meat cuts, er HBCMC for short...dunno, I am still in shock all these years later and STILL not very creative naming wise...I just know that this flamboyant miscarriage of truthfulness must be dashed!
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    The percentage of white meat based on original weights...wait for it...

    HERITAGE HEN - 20.2 percent
    COMMERCIAL TOM - 18.6 percent

    YUP! The heritage hen had MORE WHITE MEAT than the commercial tom...by 1.6 percent. [​IMG]

    How does the rest of the birds stack up....

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    Leg meat
    Commercial tom on left / Heritage hen on right

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    My son adores turkey legs and he just raves about how much more tastier the heritage turkey meat is compared to the commercial turkeys. So much more turkey tasting flavourful! [​IMG]


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    Heritage hen

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    Commercial tom


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    Heritage hen on left / Commercial tom on right

    You can SEE the heritage meat is more firm--I only wish you could TASTE the superior quality the heritage turkey has over the bland commercial mush meats.

    So now that I have debunked that myth, got it off my CHEST so to speak...onwards we shall go... [​IMG]


    - The hen/jennies are the only ones to lay eggs.

    - I have seen both genders take exquisite care of the poults. Protecting the precious little ones with devotion like no others. Nothing is cuter than to spot poults peaking out from the backs and under the downy feathers of their parents. [​IMG]

    - Tom/jakes are the ones to more commonly make the gobbling sound BUT I am told that the females CAN gobble if they want to though I personally have never experienced this phenomenon. Maybe one day, eh?

    - Toms will develop spurs on their legs like chickens. Have not found a hen yet with spurs but since I see spurs in chicken hens...I have no doubts it may exist in that gender also.

    - Both female and male turkeys may have beards.

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    Sweetgrass turkey tom Black Bart
    Do look past his dirty toes (my birds live REAL lives squishing dirt between their toes, eh) to see spurs and beard!


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    This is Lilac LoREDa several years ago...she had and still has a beard!


    - Both males and females will strut (form of dominance behaviour)--but it is the females that will tuck the rolling pin UNDER their wings to even up the weight differences between the sexes<-- believe that very last part, I got me a bridge or three to sell you! [​IMG]

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    Jersey Buff female, strutting her stuff(in')


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    Black Bart & Louise...strutting in tandem

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    I have a female turkey with what we have labelled a "bowtie."

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    Chiq - Tri-coloured Sweetgrass turkey hen

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    I expect this is some form of a "skin tag" that has grown feathers and not seen it in any other birds (yet!).

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    So as far as I have experienced, the only true gender differences IN turkeys are that the females lay eggs and males have spurs (so far unless someone has a spurred female and I would SO adore seeing a pic of this!).


    Did you know that turkey eggs are highly valued with the average price of the sale of a single turkey egg in the States at $3.50 PER egg?? [​IMG]

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    Turkey Eggs
    Rows of Three from Left to Right: Ronquières, Lilac and Jersey Buff.​


    Often one egg by a turkey holds more value than a DOZEN chicken eggs. Unlike waterfowl eggs with are more gloppy like (richer consistency and great for baking), turkey eggs are pretty much just like other landfowl eggs. I have used turkey eggs like I use chicken eggs with no real difference past turkey eggs are generally BIG sized if compared to say a bantam chicken's cackleberry. [​IMG]

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    Jersey Buff egg


     
  2. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    lovely read... I had a pair and loved them to death... Mr and Mrs T.... LOL.

    Found all the same characteristics you describe above. I have no clue as to their breed only that they were Dark brown and had green and gold and red highlights. and VERY good fliers.

    Mr. T was so named because he had all this bling...

    I have recently heard horror stories about keeping chickens and turkeys together... Now I am afraid to have them again...

    deb
     
  3. scottcaddy

    scottcaddy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Did I miss something good? We have parked poults with like sized chicks for several years now and not had any thing bad happen, even keep larger poults in with the Roo(going to be dinner) growout group without much hoo-raa.
    Scott
     
  4. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

     
  5. CanuckBock

    CanuckBock THE Village Ijit

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    Oct 25, 2013
    Alberta, Canada
    My Coop
    Pleasure to hear you have been having as much fun with the turks as I have been finding! LOL

    Love the name, Mr. & Mrs. T<--awesomely cutester!

    Suspect you had the Bronze turkeys...some of the tom's can get double rainbows and some people are breeding for this trait. Pretty pretty turks and yes, the ability to fly can be both a blessing and a curse at times! [​IMG]

    FEAR - "an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat." [​IMG]


    The thing about fear is the not understanding usually makes it worse than it needs to be. When one may FACE the fear because you UNDERSTAND it...far better. A fear can be unfounded when you don't have the understanding of what you are dealing with and YEH...you can still be FEARFUL but I personally would rather face the fear full on because I know about it better.

    Turkeys and chickens pretty much seem to give each other space and room and don't seem for the most part to give each other too much grief behaviour wise. Kinda neato!

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    Some of the Lilac turks in the Veg Garden Coop

    Exactly...good point Scott on the "parked poults with like sized chicks"...

    I tend to sort bird babes by sizes (standard vs. bantams) and then living conditions so by species preferences. Waterfowl make landfowl miserable (free for all water in an unlimited supply just encourages waterfowl to drown themselves, sorta a mantra with an objective to over do the water play) and landfowl has pointy beaks that can inflict much greater damage to the billed ones if they choose to be mean.

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    Set of two and two...older and younger poults

    I find the turk poults very accommodating to each other...if I hatch just a few poults...I will put them in with chicken chicks without issues...then when my bator belches out more turks...I make up a bin of just turkeys. All in all, same species is best as is same size, same colours...etc. Same ol' same old is less problematic.


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    This is a group of various ages and colours BUT the colour differences can cause more ongoing issues than ages will often cause.

    The Jersey Buffs are sorta making some of my black based turks unwelcome in the grow out pens. There are never any hard and fast rooles. [​IMG]

    We just gotta keep observing and intervening when required--part of our duty of care, eh!

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    Day old poults...diff colours but same sizes

    I incubate eggs in Buster the Bator (Sportsman - nfi) and hatch all in there, no diff treatment, waterfowl or landfowl. I never EVER do no lockdown, think that's ultimately stunned and stupid but no matter. My opinion on that. [​IMG]


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    Chicken chicks, Ducklings and Turkey poults...all hatched same day in Buster.


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    Fixins inspecting HER day olds...

    DO keep in mind tho, poults require MORE heat than chicken chicks AND they are usually started on a higher protein level starter feed...we feed three starters here; chicken, turkey and waterfowl (no meds in the wf). One can go visit my website, Tales from Rat World, read article 8 on Poultry Rations to see the differences in the feeds. Not just a protein difference...think in terms of where each resides...chickens in the jungle, ducks in a swamp, turkeys out in the forests and fields foraging. There are minute differences but if you miss just ONE vital component...all the difference in the world. Some people have baby birds busting outta shells all over the place, others have some dying in the shells one day prior to bust out day. I don't mess too much with what works.


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    Turkey starter bag on left.

    There is ampro in both my chicken and turkey starters...one less thing for me to worry about. I do not feed ampro AFTER starter...so feed a turkey grower (15% protein) with whole grains, greens and such from then onwards.

    I see no need to do that for my semi-adult turks and don't feel I need to be putting that into their bods or my own.

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    Provide on free choice, insoluable grit (granite grit, no. 1 to poults then on to no. 3 for adults) since turkeys don't have no teethies to grind their feed up to get all they can from it...and soluable grit (oyster shell) for good egg shells.

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    I am not too into over the top remedies but I still figure some things are good to add to their diets.

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    All the babes will get a feed of yoghurt (plain, nothing special) mixed with hard boiled egg yolk (any of our eggs will do, I don't fret over duck, goose, chicken, turk, pheasant, etc...yolk is yolk!) mixed with their kind of starter. Feel it puts some good bugs in their guts, eh.


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    Pretty much the same set up for each of the young ones...marbles in water dispenser so they don't get too wet, shiny to incite pecking at, so in water and starter containers. Oat straw bedding exclusively (sawdust fills crops and risk of impaction), no long stemmed grasses (again, good way to impact crop...feed grasses, use scissors to slice into tiny bits...kinda a no real bonus feed but does get them to eat greens in later life.


    There's more to it than just the one way. Let's bite the issue, if you want to be fearful with it, fine but let's make it manageable, 'kay? [​IMG]


    Cecal worm heterakis gallinarum is the most common parasitic worm in NA according to Gail Damerow's The Chicken Health Handbook.

    Most chickens are immune to blackhead...but some still do succumb and get ill from it. Basically the gist is that a chicken can eat an earthworm infected with blackhead (secondary host) and feel no ills...but the chickens are carriers and when housed WITH turkeys, they can expose the turks. Turks are much more sensitive to blackhead and they get the brunt of the issue. They can up and die from it.

    IF the chickens were hatched and NEVER exposed to blackhead, sure the two species will do fine together (keeping a bit older turkeys means you can keep the heat comfy for the chickens and yet not kill the turkeys / the difference in food can be the same, older turkeys would require less protein than their younger counterparts, so chick food might be OK then). Turkeys and chickens can reside together..in fact the chicks will often teach the poults how to eat and drink since the chicken chicks are hatched with more instincts in these aspects than turkey poults--turkeys are more wilder creatures (not domesticated for as long as chicken have, so makes total sense). Turkey poults rely on Mom and Dad turkey to teach them...how to eat and drink, where to go to be safe, sources of food during the seasons (turks LOVE grapes and raisons!), how to find or avoid other turkey groups, keep away from predators, all that crapola.

    So the negatives for chickens with turkeys is the chickens can give the turkeys blackhead (if the chickens have gotten it from contact with other birds include wild birds or eaten worms or flies or grasshoppers or bugs that have cecal worm eggs). Chickens just handle blackhead exposure better than turkeys do but some breeds like the Leghorn are more prone to ill effects from blackhead whereas heavier more meat or dual purpose chicken breeds handle blackhead better.

    Positives are that chickens can teach turkeys how to eat and drink.

    Chickens may benefit from being with turkeys because turkeys can carry a form of Marek's Disease that causes the chickens to be naturally vaccinated against the other more bad kinds of MD. Now the same kind of vaccination for chickens can be done by putting some turkey plops (poop) into their pen. The immunity is shed in turkey crap...so you do not have to risk the turkey's health to give the chickens some boost to their immune system.

    See, not that was not so fearful. The general risks are blackhead and chronic respiratory disease being exchanged by both species. Chickens can be made ill by sick turkeys and vice versa...I guess fair is fair, eh!


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    Old pen roof was tenplast and open wire

    We do a barrier here to encouraging earthworms in the turkey pens. I dig down to the clay and add in a layer of crushed limerock...then river sand and then oat straw.

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    Upgrade was metal

    Rick redid the turkey barn pen roof in green metal to control the moisture going in the pen even more so.

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    So we do what we think is doable and what amount we are feeling is warranted. [​IMG]



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    Physical barrier, the limerock would be scratchy and dry like, less conducive to earthworms wanting to live there!

    I figure Perchie you being in the desert, unless you bring IN birds (chickens &/or turkeys) that are already harbouring blackhead or CRD or both...you should not have a real issue combining them together (more as adults I expect if feed and heat are conflicting between the two species). Dry conditions do not encourage the one host earthworms...but mind you that you do not bring in birds that are carriers, that would be my concerns if I was you.

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    I will let my turks and chickens out on the grass and yes, I do know that free ranging birds are more at risk to blackhead and predators but I also want them to have a REAL life...

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    So if I fail them by allowing them to be out and about a bit, so be it...I failed them but what fun they were having, eh! Sorta the better to have loved and lost attitude, eh... [​IMG]

    Doggone & Chicken UP!

    Tara Lee Higgins
    Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm, Alberta, Canada
     
  6. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    Most excellent Tara.... knowing the vectors for black head was a big plus for me. Yep there is no soil here only Decomposed granite... I dont even put out grit because they can pick and choose the sizes they want.

    Though we do get alot of wild birds that run though... Mostly desert quail the kind with top knots... cute little buggers. They would sit along the fence and fuss till I came out to feed the chickens.... Then swoup down to filler up... Like weeny little chickens on crak... zooming everywhere ans scratching like chickens but at lightening speed.

    So if any thing is going to get spread it would be from them. Or from Ravens we have alot of ravens.

    One time I found Mr. T in the coop beating the crap out of what looked like a chicken.... Hitting him with wings and feet. I went in and pulled Mr. T off and Low and Behold there was a raven there laying on his back with his feet curled up and his eyes clenched shut. It was kind of cool out and I thought the raven was dead. I picked him up to go bury him and he opened one eye saw me and clenched it back shut.... LOL

    Playin possom... I checked him over and his wings were good and there was no blood... But he was very cold. So I popped him under my jacket and took him to the front porch where I could set down..,.. warming up i felt movement... I peeked in and both eyes popped shut.... I waited a little longer he moved some more so I just took him out to the circle drive where there are a few trees.... One mesquite one live oak and a desert pine... I figured he could pick an choose... I put him in the mesquite, and walked away.

    He sat there for a while then hopped down.... and walked away... Down the drive and around the corner... I never saw him take off... Just saw that raven waddle and could imagine what he was trying to figure out to say to his brothers and sisters and wether or not to mention the whole episode at all...

    Mr. T did his duty protecting his flock he was quite the strutter... he would sneak up behind you with his sidling walk all puffed up but if you turned around he would turn the other way ... "Ohh look at that...

    deb
     
  7. CanuckBock

    CanuckBock THE Village Ijit

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    My Coop
    Nice bonus they have lots of rock to pick and choose from. We find that even in the early spring, there is often so much ice and snow, we still gotta provide a bowl of grit for them to access.

    I don't fear the wild birds here for bringing in something. We live far enough away from any factory farms, not too many worries the wild ones will bring in too many things. No wild waterfowl to speak of except the fly by of Trumpters twice a year (migrating to & from the tundra) and the Canadian ratz with wings stay mostly on the river. I suppose one could fear a plop making a hit here but really, not going to live like that.

    Are your desert quail anything like the California or Valley quail (Callipepla californica)? Now those guys are major cute! A SIL of mine had some living on Van Isle on the WEsT Coast and I thought they were marvelous creatures...obviously someone had brought them over I figure but still doing well. They seem almost domesticated and did like her wild bird seed offerings.

    Those Raven are smart...too smart for their own good. Playing possum...yeh, I could see him tottering off wondering if he mentions his encounter! Lover your Mr. T even more now. One of the reasons why the roo or the tom is taken first is they are very willing to put down their lives to save the harem and the kids. We had a crow shot in the wing show up when we lived on the Coast. Took it in and the vet there had a fit because we wanted an xray and have him remove the pellet...the vet kept racing pigeons with good pedigrees. What made us laugh the most is we brought home the crow and kept him in the backyard to get better (no poultry at the time as we were in transition phase). Seemed like it was taking an awful long time for the crow to mend until we realized the moment we left after feeding, the dang bugger was calling all his buddies in and feeding them thru the wire. Made us smile...his misfortune was the crow flock's ticket to free pour. Dang smart corvus genus, eh.

    We let a pair of ravens sorta come round (Fixins puts the run on them...BAD black birdies that might harm her turks!) as a pair of ravens or crows will keep the riff raff like eagles, hawks and owls away from their supposed territory.


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    Belly bathed Fixins (summer's day and hot out...) on patrol for black bugger birds
    We still have owls and they do great good with the mice population at night. If you raise birds, you usually provide enough conditions for mice to flourish... [​IMG]


    Whether you take a risk and have turkeys with chickens again, certainly with your desert climate and geography, you have one up on places like ours...no real earthworm conditions. I know that a pair of turks really does add some interesting dynamics to the mix. I hope you do decide the benefits outweigh the risks and go for the turks again! Such fond memories of the T's...would be fun to make more happiness happen.

    I giggled about your boy sidling up and pretending be interested in something else once caught. We had a bourbon red tom years ago, that if you were foolish enough to leave a garden gate open, he'd come dancing in to find you...be sitting in a lawn chair and he would be doing the soirée round and round...the whole time looking you in the eye for approval. "Yes, you are such a hunky boy...such a good dancer!" I would have to get up and shoo him back to the bird yard and close the gate this time. Such a cute pest. His own girls would ignore him during the day as they were more intent on foraging for snacks or having a dust bath so he thought maybe his efforts would ace him some benefit elsewhere.

    Ranging turkeys do a rather fine job on grasshoppers (ducks and chickens do too) and I have heard they were used alot historically for removal of hopper plagues; they move along in a line and systematically eradicate the grasshoppers like a search and rescue squad doing a field search. Ever since we have had birds, never know it was a good year for hoppers or not...until I go to the mailbox and hear them in the roadside grasses.


    Here is some of the foody bounty made from turkey processing...


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    Love turkey soup made later from a holiday feast.


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    Heritage turkey gravy, always noted how much darker the heritage bird gravy is...and how turkey tasty it is!

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    My son's wedding...did up a marinated turkey breast for the big event. Funny how often we celebrate monumental moments with poultry playing a key role in the gathering of friends and family!

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    One thing I do like to do is whenever I harvest a turkey, inspecting the condition of the organs and how much fat is on the carcass. I like to see no starburst or discolourations in the liver (blackhead not present) and by the fat amounts. Going into winter, I like to see the birds with decent amount, but if I harvest one for Easter, I would like to see a lesser amount of fat. We want them to have good insulation for our extreme cold, but when it rolls over to spring time, a fat bird can be an infertile one...no eggs or thriving wigglers in the boys.



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    Turkey soup's on...displayed in my Gran's special dishes!

    One interesting thing about turkeys is their long fertile ability. A hen can be bred and be fertile for like 75 days. Certainly NOT like chickens eh where many are fertile for like three weeks or so. Kinda makes sense as some wild tom turkeys are loners or stay in all male groups, some just as pairs of males. In early spring (some flocks group up for winter) just before the genders go separate ways, it has to matter and last as the hens may lose a clutch of eggs and have to start a new one. Since turkey eggs take 28 days or so to hatch...she could not realize she laid a nest of duds for quite a bit of time.


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    Generally an egg a day is what my hens give me--some of the heritage hens here will produce from February to October (only stopping to go setty or when it gets a tad too hot like +32C/+90F or so). Hens will make up a clutch of say 10 to 14 eggs...and then the 28 or so days of setting to have them not produce poults...yeh, her being fertile for so long is kinda a good thing.

    It is preferred that you hatch hen eggs over jennies (young birds as in under 2 years old or so) because basically like in chooks, the fact alone that the turkeys are nearing two years of age means they are disease resistant and have all their qualities wanted to live onwards with. You end up with much stronger genetics (like chickens, the older females lay a bigger egg too) if you only produce poults from the hens and toms. The strongest survive to make more!


    I recall a story one person told of collecting up a clutch of heritage turkey eggs for a friend to artificially incubate. The hen was not so pleased with the arrangement, not having been asked if she wanted to participate and all. Hilarious really as the person put the clutch in a shallow cardboard box on their open porch; it was warm but not too warm just yet. The hen found the eggs in her search for HER eggs and was found talking to the eggs on the porch. To me that would be heart ripping and I would have had to return the clutch to the rightfully irritated Mom... I guess she went on to make up another clutch but changed places where she had originally set up her nest--too dangerous otherwise and she had learned her lesson. That is a very wild type instinct one can see displayed in turkeys and ducks. Always leave ONE marked sacrificial egg (felt pen with a coupla big X's works well or even a fake egg or a golf ball will work for some of the chooks) in the chosen nesting spot. Many girly birds will give up or keep changing locations if they find their egg nest is not SAFE. "Something keeps taking me precious eggs...gotta move to a much better location!" Then sometimes if the eggs keep disappearing, they can completely stop laying earlier than later because it is just not a good year to raise up babes. Think about it...if the eggs keep getting taken, when the Mom decides to set, who's to say the robber don't take a shining to having HER and the egg clutch for a real BIG meal! Those bird brains ain't so stoopid, now are they!
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    Touch on turkey food we feed those precious goobers...

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    As I mentioned, we feed a turkey starter (feeding of yoghurt and boiled egg yolk to seed the guts with good bugs) with No. 1 granite grit. Greens like romaine are sliced up fine and they pick at it, not to feed them but get them use to having some greens.

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    Yellow cracked corn on left / oats and wheat mix on right


    I will change the turks over to a 14% protein turkey feed that has NO ampro in it. Some label this turkey pellet grower or finisher (usually finisher has no ampro!). We will mix in one third whole grains (whole hard red wheat, whole heavy oats, in winter, add another 1/3 of cracked yellow corn for the heat it generates for the birds).


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    We purchase our grains in large totes right from the producer and haul that home in our boo truck with the big trailer. It is a very pleasant adventure we do each fall and I look forward to the fun it means...work, sure, but nothing like repetition of knowing what to do and how to go about it.


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    I then do the bucket brigade and store it in our feed room in totes. See that helper dog...Fixins lives the life of a princess warrior, totally content sleeping on two dog beds stacked (there's a pea under all that but she might not be so royal blooded as we had once hoped, eh) ...and I earn the right for a SECOND slice of pie that day!
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    We have to order our turkey (and the waterfowl too) rations made up special for us...so we need to purchase one ton (heavy ton as in 2,200 pounds or 40 fifty five pound bags). At least I know it is very FRESH...LOL A ton of turk ration will feed about 20/30 turks for a year (pending how cold the winter is...more cold = more feed consumption). We have more turks growing up this year so may have to make a mid summer's order for another ton...shall see, eh!


    [​IMG]

    There is a fair amount of work involved in getting stocked up in the fall here but hey, ol' Mother Hubbard can go to her cupboard and successfully get her turks some decent foods, eh! [​IMG]
    Doggone & Chicken UP!

    Tara Lee Higgins
    Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm, Alberta, Canada
     
  8. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    Our quail are these:

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    Since I will be raising Guinea fowl as well I will have all the feed necessary for turkeys... I dont normally do any kind of medicated feed but if its necessary I will for the turkeys. I dont vaccinate for anything either. I figure I would rather actually know I have Merecks in my flock than have it masked and still be able to pass it on.

    Wow your feed room is impressive... Have you considered using a feed hopper? You can fill them from the big totes with a leaf blower.

    Here is what Mr T looked like when he was hanging around me.... LOL

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    All the feed store said was that they were wild turkeys. I was lucky to get a tom and a hen...

    at the time I knew nothing about raising them.... I dont even remember what I fed except that which the feed store recommended.

    I am learning bunches here for certain.

    deb
     
  9. scottcaddy

    scottcaddy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    At about 1 ton a pallet how many pallets are in your feed room? BTW, that makes my back hurt just looking at all the stacking by hand you do! [​IMG]

    Edit to add, it looks like the feed mover gets a bit lite in the rear end, and heavy on the front end when moving feed. My little red hay bale mover does the same thing.
    Scott
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2015
  10. CanuckBock

    CanuckBock THE Village Ijit

    1,512
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    Oct 25, 2013
    Alberta, Canada
    My Coop
    Mr. T looks to be a bronze (wild type colour pattern).

    I think you did rather well raising up the pair in how you report back now on how much fun you all had. Good show! They are not difficult but knowing a bit more now makes it even more a delight to have turkeys I am hoping! We provide a mixed diet so the birds can pick and choose what they need. If your pair free ranged, they would have had the opportunity to subsidize their diets, balance their own rations. Whatever you did, you did well by it as did they. [​IMG]

    You do not have to feed a medicated feed (I choose the coccidiostat Amprolium because it is already easily available as an addition in many starters for landfowl, usually labelled MEDICATED) but I personally would not recommend you don't at least start them off with the medicated starter. Coccidia is literally found everywhere chickens reside. Birds are exposed and develop immunity--it is no real biggie and if you eat the birds, you do have to withdraw the medicated feed (why we find that the turkey FINISHERs have no ampro in them!). I can't see someone eating the heritage poults, so it is a given the ampro has a long time to work itself thru their systems.

    I just prefer to hedge my bets that there will NOT be a devastating outbreak by feeding a medicated starter and I feel once given a chance to build up an immunity (not leading lambs in for a slaughter on something they are just too tender to be able to deal with), I can remove the medicated feed as easily as when I begin to switch them over to adult rations. Production can be severely stunted by Coccidiosis too (the birds just too big a hit and never quite recover to be all they could have been) and I hope never to find bloody droppings, deaths and other nasties if I start them off with the ability to deal with this protozoal disease right from the first beak full of starter they consume. I am not all too hung up about always being natural...Nature can be awfully cruel and final in her decisions on who lives or dies or just remains sickly for their entire lives. I want my turks to be all they can be and I figure us humans can give them a boost to a good start, so I am gonna be a helper, not a hinderer.

    I use to work for Alberta Agriculture and this is an excerpt from a publication of theirs entitled Coccidiosis in Chickens

    http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex4616:
    There were 12 tons stowed in there to begin with that year, 2012. I earned my extra slices of pie, eh. No gym memberships required here. [​IMG]

    That was a busy year for replenishing the provisions...

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    First load of square oat straw bales in Hay/Straw barn

    We also restocked our oat straw squares (used exclusively for poultry bedding) in 2012...

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    Second load of squares

    We usually get two loads and that lasts us two years.


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    Second load ready to be taken off and stowed away


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    Unloading second load into the barn

    So basically a trailer load on the big trailer per season is what we use.


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    Usual round alfalfa bales for the ruminants done in the fall too.

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    And a special addition, we bought a pallet of oyster shell and a pallet of granite grit in 2012. Rick and I did alot of trailer trips to get the provisions in for us.

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    Rick was able to poke the one pallet just inside the entrance and it was just an easy stack on pallets under the roof. May have to restock the grit this fall but the oyster shell is holding up fairly well.

    [​IMG]

    Round oat straw bales in the field...

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    Round oat straw bales in the yard...waiting to be off loaded...


    If Rick figures he has a chance that he might snag a load on the tractor where the calcium in the tires (made him do that...I freak about tippy tractors, eh!) are not enough of a ballast, he'll just put the tiller on the back. Thing about tractors if it is too big--just driving it around you really mess up the land with compaction (lots of green spaces here).

    [​IMG]

    I clear out bird pens and he dumps the refuse out on the land. Some areas we are recovering were once river bed, so lots of rock in there but good for a base for drainage.

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    He tills it in...

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    So here is a well composted pile of used bedding in August.

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    It goes to this...

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    I seed it to a mixed forage seed for the area...

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    And it becomes this.

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    Bring on the turkey plops please!


    [​IMG]
    End of September, 2014 a good start and will fill in.

    Too small a tractor and you can't do the jobs you wanna. There is a fine line to balance. Thought about getting a bobcat (small enough to zip about here between built sites), but compaction would have been horrid and lots of diggy ups, even with rubber tracts on it perhaps. So a 51 horse was what we decide on. He went for a class two hitch and if remember correctly, there is a tiller, blade for snow/gravel, pallet forks, and two buckets (one for sand/gravel and one for snow--bought that later because I freaked on him over how many trips it meant he had to do to clear out the snow...made him get that one so he'd be inside having dinner sooner than too much later). The tractor is his toy and if he breaks her, he has to step up and get her fixed back up--she makes live here so much better I figure. That is a blue job pretty much so past my feeble observations, if he is not careful, he's the one that pays the worst if he don't be good about this. [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    I made up a ramp of bull rails so he could poke the round bales (an experiment this year...instead of all small squares of oat straw, we are trying out big rounds, way cheaper cause I am not loading up as many squares in the barn...the cost we will save on those extra slices of pie alone might warrant it!) in the barn right to the back without too much trouble.

    [​IMG]

    Talk about quick...I had stowed away one side of the two sides of the Hay/straw barn from one load of small squares...and before I could blink... [​IMG]

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    One round in...

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    Snapped a pick of the two dogs and we had to get out of the way...

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    Barn's FULL>>>

    [​IMG]

    Yesterday, I cut the netting on the bale on the right there and it flaked off nicely to fill a calf sled with straw.

    Took the flakes back to the barn, off loaded it into a clean waiting pen (warm winter, been cleaning pens instead of layering this year!), done deal. No fuss, no muss, much cheaper bought in rounds...think we will like this.

    I will still use the small squares for the birds in the pens because many like to perch on the bales. The hens more so than the toms as a reclined hen to a tom, means she might be receptive to his request to be bred...if she is sitting up on a bale, he ignores her and keeps strutting until she decides she wants some attentions.

    So kinda figuring things out to keep on the costs being lower and the work bees lessened (but do sorta miss my excuse fer an extra slice of pie...wah wah wah!). [​IMG]

    Doggone & Chicken UP!

    Tara Lee Higgins
    Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm, Alberta, Canada
     

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