Monday, November 12, 2012

Turkey Coop Progress

What's that you say?? Yes, friends, you read it right: WE ARE GETTING TURKEYS!!!!

I am so excited to be adding some new animals to our little homestead in the early spring. We are choosing a heritage breed, called Bourbon Reds, to raise primarily for meat. Not sure how they will interact with the chickens, but hopefully everyone will learn to get along :) 

image source, attribution

We are planning to use the partially enclosed, partially open area behind our shed for the turkey pen. We will enclose this area with poultry wire, and we've made a roost for them to sleep on that is underneath the sheltered portion of the back of the shed. We plan to keep the poults here in the pen for the first several weeks until they learn where home is, and then we will let them out to free range. I have heard from many turkey owners that turkeys are just as happy to sleep every night roosting up in trees.

poultry wire will be applied to the metal posts

The back of our shed is partially sheltered--perfect for the turkeys to sleep under

home-made turkey roost out of bamboo

I expect the turkeys to spend most of their time out in the woods that surround our property, and we will just pray they won't all get eaten by predators!

turkey coop looking out-- see the chickens in the background? They will have to learn to share their foraging space!

Once next November rolls around, they should be quite large and ready for processing. We plan to dress one out for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas :) If we are lucky we might have an extra breeding pair we can use for next year! Did you know that something like 98% of all turkeys in the United States are artificially inseminated? Apparently over the years we have nearly bred the natural mating and reproduction process out of these birds, who rarely get to reach one full year in their life-span.

 I guess it's time to stock up on the turkey poult feed before the prices shoot up. Do any of you raise turkeys? How different do you find them from chickens?

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  1. How exciting! Looking forward to reading about your new adventures!

  2. I have always wanted to raise turkeys. Earlier this year on my way home from a family gathering I passed a sign for day old guineas and turkeys and did a quick u-turn. I got 4 guineas but they were out of turkeys. I can tell you that the guineas are good bit different than chickens. They have very strong legs and even at a few days old were springing out of my hand trying to fly away. They have a cute sound to them too. I cant wait to get a few turkeys and see how they are to raise :) Ill be checking back to see how your pen turns out!

  3. Good for you!!!:) i have been told to keep turkeys away from chickens as they are prone to catching diseases. Have you heard this? Have fun!

  4. That looks like the perfect place for your turkeys. I love the bamboo roost! I want to have turkeys someday just because one of my goals is to have every type of fowl haha :) I think it would be awesome to have a tom walking around.

  5. Exciting for you! I've had my sights set on turkeys for a project at a time though. The coop looks great! In regards to comment above, I just did some research and asked around about the issue of keeping turkeys and chickens together. Quoting a recent email exchange below (might be helpful...)

    "Blackhead is something I don't even worry about. We've had turkeys coming in and out of here alongside the chickens since the beginning (maybe 5 sets of turkeys) and personally I consider it a big-ag/hatchery problem. Ideally, if you get a strong, healthy flock that thrives on your ground, hatch healthy chicks from them, and do the same with turkeys, they ought to build resistance to diseases such as blackhead."

    Keep us posted on your progress!

  6. Nice idea for the turkeys. I am thinking about getting 6 next spring. I love the Bourbons and the Palm turkeys. I built a giant chicken tractor (we call it the Winnebago!) just for the turleys next year.
    Come visit the Vermont flock and the herd when you get a chance: