Having heard all sorts of terrible things about turkeys and having never done turkeys before and we decided to do a trial run. So, in the spring of 2007 we received 6 day old turkey hatchlings and raised six Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys over the summer. This experience was fantastic and dispelled all those myths about turkeys. These little creatures were an absolute delight to raise. They were curious, brave, and well-behaved.
As of September 19th, 2008 I have 25 white turkey chicks in the new barn. They are only two weeks old at the moment. They will be ready for butchering just before Christmas. We got a late start on the turkeys this year because of all the new developments on the farm–specifically, waiting for the greenhouse and the turkey barn to be completed. All of this takes more time than you ever think it will. So, no turkey this Thanksgiving–we’ll probably have duck instead!
Life and death on the farm:
We had a terrible mishap with the first batch of turkeys ordered. They come all the way from Alberta in the care of Canada Post. Unfortunately, they missed their ‘connection’ in Prince George and arrived late into Williams Lake, a mere 450 k from me–and, consequently, didn’t make the mail truck to Bella Coola. Things are complicated when you live in a remote location; we only get mail three times a week. What this meant for our baby turkeys who arrived to Williams Lake late on a Friday night of a long weekend, was certain death–which most of them managed by Saturday morning. However, thanks to the combined efforts of Beaver Valley Feeds in Williams Lake, who managed to take the few survivors in on the Saturday afternoon and care for them all weekend, coupled with the kindness of Gerald of Chilcotin Frieghtways, who picked them up at the last minute and saved the day (not to mention many lives) and kept them in the cab with him to keep them warm, we managed to get 7 of the original 25 batch to the farm.
Sadly, a few more died over the next few days–something that was not surprising considering the extreme stress the little creatures were put through. The hatchery was good enough to send another batch of twenty replacements out to me and, once again, Chilcotin Freight came to the rescue. Gerald delivered them to me at midnight the following night when he arrived in town.
So far, we’ve lost three more of them and are down two birds from our original order of 25. Hopefully, there won’t be any more losses and we’ll see the rest of these babies grow to maturity.
Babies on the farm:
The babies are growing. They are now snug in the new, purpose built barn, complete with nursery/brooder room.
As you can see in the above photo, eating-and-pooping-and-pooping-and-eating is what they spend most of their time doing. The pie plate is holding weeds that I select for them and grind in my food processor. I like to give them as much fresh food as I can when they are cooped up. When they are grown, they will free range for the bulk of their food; in the meantime I act as mum and provide the fresh stuff.
If you look closely, you can spot the few turkeys that are a wee bit larger than the others. These are the few from the original order that are a week older than the new arrivals.
Below, they are starting to look more like turkeys, and get their first real feathers. These are white turkeys. I prefer to raise the Broad Breasted Bronze (but don’t let these guys know that) but the hatchery only does those a few times each year and, with our new barn building project, we missed out this year.
Check back here to watch these turkeys grow.