Meat Chickens Have Arrived

Back when Hubby, The Kid and I were thinking about how many meat chickens to order, we thought we’d settled on 50, like last year.
And then, something picked at me and told me that wasn’t enough.
I’ve been alive long enough to have learned to listen when my gut says something to me.
So I ordered 75 of the little nuggets.
And 10 white turkeys.

I figured with the success of our Narragansetts from last year, I oughta be able to get 10 whites to Freezer Camp size.
I sure the eff hope so, because things have not been going well with my Narragansetts I hatched this year.
My excitement over 16?
Dashed, because we’re down to 5…and may very well lose them as well.
Fuck.

Y’see, turkeys are very delicate.
Yep, even heritage breeds. Even though the heritage breeds are tougher than the whites, they’re still delicate little things.
As we were awaiting hatching, we evicted the ducks from the brooder, gave it a deep cleaning, sprayed it down with cleaner, thinking we were good to go with our poults.
Welp, as it turns out, there was mold starting in the floor.
I say again…fuck.

Turkeys are susceptible to mold.
Even when us humans don’t know it’s there, have no fucking clue it’s there…turkeys will be doing great, bopping around like crazy birbs, eating, drinking, pooping beautiful turkey poops…and then just drop dead.
Because their little lungs are that effing delicate.

So after the loss of 6 we thought “huh, this is more than just weak poults not making it”.
Hubby and The Kid whipped off another brooder like the last one I showed y’all…metal floor for ease of cleaning, fresh new walls, lid that’s easy to lift for air movement and a door for easy access that doesn’t let heat out…
Then, The Kid and I put fresh straw in, and I crawled into the old brooder to catch our remaining poults.
That’s when I found the mold…under the straw, the wood was wet. And there were small fuzzy spots.
Fuck.

Now we have the last 5 in the newly built brooder, nothing is in the old brooder until it gets torn apart and maybe refurbished…but it might just be scrap now.
Fuck.
I mean, we can’t really complain about it, if we have to scrap it.
The brooder was here when we bought the place, it’s successfully raised near onto 500 hundred birds…but I hate that I found out this way that there was a problem with it.
I hate that it’s costing little lives.
πŸ˜₯
That’s what kills me.

If you scroll through the pictures, you’ll see the size of the white turkeys, compared to my Narragansetts.
The whites are a day old in the picture, the heritage birds over a week!
They’re all getting along beautifully.
I’m actually hoping that the whites will give the heritages enough impetus to keep fighting to stay alive.
There’s really no treatment for mold exposure.
Fuck.
But I’ve got them on high protein feed, clean water with vitamins, a bit of brown sugar and apple cider vinegar twice a day, clean fresh bedding every other day, and today they got some mashed up hard boiled eggs with the vitamins mixed in.
I’m trying my best to make the best of a shitty situation.
While hoping that my turkey hens start laying soon…because goodness knows, the boys are doing their jobs.
The very second I see eggs from the hens, I’m whisking them off to be incubated!

I’m going to bet dollars to donuts, that the second my incubators are full and working on chickens again, that’s when those turkeys will start popping out eggs…and then I’ll end up having to buy a 3rd incubator just for turkey eggs.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Because that’s my life…chaotic, crazy, and always learning.

Turkey Observations

I’ve said it a few times, this is our first year with turkeys.
So far, there are a few things that I feel like I wish I had known about them.
I don’t know about other people experience with them, but our experience with them has been a steep (losing 8 out of 10) learning curve…

My observations on how to do this better next year include:

1. Definitely start them with chickens.
Turkeys (especially the white broad breasted we have) seem to be dumb. They need to have other poultry with them to teach them what the food and water are.

2. Definitely feed them 28% protein food…or higher.
We’re using Masterfeeds (one of the Big 3 feed companies in our area) game bird feed. Turkeys need that protein to grow, and they grow fast! They’ll be bigger than the chickens they’re with in no time.

3. Once they’re off the heat, put them in a pen separate from the chickens.
We didn’t do this. We should have done this. Next time, we will do this.
Once they don’t need the heat, the work of the chickens is done.
Let them grow out with their chicken pals and let the turkeys live together without the chickens.

4. Turkeys are to meat chickens what draft horses are to ponies.
This was my Kid’s observation.
Yesterday, we gave Turkey and Lurkey some hard boiled eggs.
Hard boiled eggs are like magick food for poultry.
Got a sick bird? Got a bird failing to thrive? Got a chilled bird?
Give ’em a mashed up hard boiled egg.
You can even mix in electrolytes if you like.
So yesterday, we give the turkeys hard boiled eggs to eat…that was the fastest we’d seen them move.
Ever!
So our theory yesterday that the cornish were eating all the food and leaving the turkeys hungry seemed to bear fruit.
Turkeys are slower moving, not quite as voracious eaters as cornish.
Cornish will strip the feeders bare in seconds and still tell you they’re starving.
Turkeys seem to think and ponder about their movements.
Cornish go like stink, safety be damned as long as they get the food.
Turkeys = Draft horse
Cornish = ponies

Which tells me that even though they seem dumb when they first arrive, they aren’t.
They just think slower. Move a little slower.
And don’t fight as hard for the food as the cornish do.
So it’s best for them to be in an area where the chickens aren’t gobbling down all the food, leaving the turkeys to starve.
I will *not* let that happen again. 😑

At the end of the day, I’m glad we’ve taken the time to learn about the differences, though I wholeheartedly wish we could have done the learning without the losses.
And we’ll definitely be growing turkey poults again next year.
We’ll take what we learned this year and utilize it to make for a much happier bunch of birds.
(My kinda luck, next year’s poults will be the exact opposite of this year’s…but a separate pen is no bad idea even if they are!)
And then I might consider adding a breeding pair…
We’ll see.
πŸ˜‰

Hello turkey!