They just left.

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Ingimundur, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. Ingimundur

    Ingimundur New Egg

    Sep 4, 2013
    Hi. My name is Ingimundur and I am new here, need your advice and input. First I am going to describe our situation and what happened. I have a theory but you tell me what you think.

    We have a farm here in the western Catskills in New York, doing mostly grass fed beef and pastured pork for direct marketing. I do a lot of haying, both my fields and others. Sometimes it feels like I am the only farmer left around here, lot of abandoned farmland, perfect habitat for wild turkeys. I think though they sometime get into trouble in winter when the snow gets thick. Last winter was great for them though, big flocks on the farm and my neighbour decimated the coyotes.

    Last year when haying I got this "great" idea we should do range fed heritage turkeys and sell for Thanksgiving. Able to convince the wife and we ordered some poults, red bourbons, white midgets and some narragansetts, maybe 25 birds alltogether.

    This was late in the season last summer but they did very well. We raised them with some chicken and before long they were foraging but never went all that far, allways locked up at night. We did not cut their wings or fence them in. In the beginning they got bought feed (higher protein), but as they got older, we gave them the same feed we give the pigs, ground hay with corn mostly, worked very well and we thought we had it made.

    So this spring we got our sportman incubator I bought maybe 20 years ago and a hatcher I built when we were doing geese. Every thing went well and we had maybe at least 60 poults. We had kept, about five white migdet hens, two red bourbon and two narragansett. One red bourbon tom, one white midget and on narragansett. We did not seperate them and I think the Narragansett tom had the most susses maybe. But because we got them so late the summer before, I think maybe the white migdet hens did the most laying, then the red bourbon and the Narragansett the least. The white midget supposed to be faster maturing.

    We started them in the incubation room and had great fun, me and the wife don't do that many things together. Eventually we mowed them into the coop I had made for them, letting them out in the morning and locking it up at night. One problem probably, I kept on putting younger turkeys there as they got ready,don;t think the older ones liked that very much. But they would eventually make up one group and everybody seemed happy and they looked good.

    We would have some loses when I moved them out this coop, my thought, not all of them were resistant to stuff they picked up from the chicken or just nature out there. Ones I noticed some of them were staggering around like they were drunk and I thought them goners, caught them but in the morning they were good as new. My thought they ate a plant or something that almost did them in.

    Everybody was happy and we all loved each other, they would even come running when they saw us. Little did they know (or did they?) that we had plans for them. Then they started to go further and further a field, crossing the highway a mile away and things but always coming back at night. Then one night no turkeys. A couple of days later a handful of them came back and they have stayed with the last turkeys we put out. Some of those from eggs we got of ebay.

    One thing, in these turkeys that were supposedly only from these three breeds, narragansett, red bourbon and white midget threw every color I know of in turkeys, Royal palm, wild color and every thing in between. The hatchery (unnamed) did offer wild turkeys and my theory that the turkey poults we got had wild genes in them and that the reason they walked off.

    I know an old timer and he tells me his mother used to raise turkeys this way around here. I have also been told this was quite an industry here all the way back to when the Dutch called New York City, New Amsterdam. As a matter of fact there is a road here called Catskill Turnpike (Catskill a Dutch name) that used to go all the way down to Kingston New York, at least a 100 miles away. They would dip the turkeys feet in hot tar to make shoes and then walk them all the way to down to Kingston.

    Now for the questions. Do you have any thoughts on this, why did they walk away, will they be back by Thanksgiving, repeating: "we are ready, we are ready, we are ready" (in Turkish of course) or will we never see them again.

    One more fact I almost forgot. Of these two narragansett hens from last summer we kept, one is just living out there somewhere. She met up one morning a week ago or so and then just left again, my thought she has wild genes in her, that funny things are going on at that hatchery. Thanks for reading this to the end.
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    [​IMG] Turkeys as you know are wanderers and foragers. They may very well have joined with some wild birds and be foraging far from home. I seriously doubt that there is any way that a predator killed the entire flock. The bottom line - they may or may not return, and the birds that have already returned are very likely to leave again. Acorns will soon be dropping and the birds will not need your feed. When my friend moved into his home about 30 years ago there was a mixed flock of 10+ wild turkeys and 6 peafowl. They roamed his location for several years. If they do return, don't mention 'Thanksgiving'.
  3. Ingimundur

    Ingimundur New Egg

    Sep 4, 2013
    Hi. Fascinating this about the peafowl. We had a few some years back. The reason we got rid off them, the males would get up on the hoods of the cars and trucks to see them self's in windshields, left quite a mess, buityful as they might be.

    No I donĀ“t think predators got them all, lot of trees around for them roost in and nowhere have I seen any feathers from our turkeys, they have all different colors as I said before. When I am haying, I sometimes see where wild turkeys have been killed, we have eagles, coyotes, bobcats, etc, even mountain lions. It has happened a turkey hen goes through the mower when they are on a nest, none this summer though, started a little later.

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