Our second turkey, the Royal Palm, turned out better than the Bourbon Red, I got to butcher him on my schedule, instead of on fate’s schedule.

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2TurkeysWe finally ate the two surviving turkeys out of the three we bought last June. They definitely hadn’t reached eating size by Thanksgiving, and were still a little small around Christmas. And nobody wants to eat turkey at Christmas anyway, since it’s only a month after eating turkey at Thanksgiving! We were busy, so I let them grow a little longer.

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Turkeys

Our turkeys are looking mature. Initially I thought the Bourbon Red was a hen, as she stayed plain-feathered for the longest time, never displaying. The Royal Palm displayed his feathers constantly from an early age. But now they are clearly both toms. They are quick to spot a stranger on the property, puff up and gobble-gobble. Their heads turn a most peculiar shade of turquoise and their neck waddles flush with blood during this display. They can turn their tail fans at different angles, to impress a wide audience.

Their tail feathers are looking a little beleaguered these days from the winter weather and mud. But they are still an impressive display. The chickens take no notice of the slow strutting around, they continue about their business, scuttling around the turkeys as if they were statues. The turkeys seem to notice this, eyeballing the passing chickens and renewing their puffing with more energy than ever.

We weighed them before Thanksgiving- 14 pounds. We’ll give them a little more time.

 birdyard

Relocating the birds to their new yard was mayhem. Poultry do not like change!

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PoultryYardWe decided to do a major switcheroo in how we are housing our poultry. Thus far, I had been letting them run loose during the day. At night they’d naturally roost in their A-frame houses, and I’d just close the doors and open them back up in the morning. They had about four acres on which to range, and they made full use of it.

One advantage to this system is that there are fewer equipment costs. Just some night structures, and one set of community food and water dispensers. Not having food and water in their night houses keeps the mess down in there, requiring less bedding expenses. Letting them free range all day tends to lead them away from the food bin, so they harvest m ore of their own food and consume less purchased feed. And it spreads their manure out all over the place.

But the biggest downside is also: it spreads their manure out all over the place!

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turkeys

I’ve started to let the turkeys run loose a bit in the evenings after I get home. Juggling their freedom is hard, because they are eating a 30% protein diet, and I don’t want the chickens to have unlimited access to that. It’s not good for them to eat too much of it, and it’s also a waste of money. So, for now, the turkeys stay penned during the day with their supercharged growth food. They love being out, though, and anxiously wait at their door to be set free each night.

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Turkeys

We got three turkey poults a few weeks ago. We’d been considering mail-ordering some, but happened upon them at a local feed store and decided to just get them there. They were twice the price of mail order ones, but this was convenient. And there is the factor of letting someone else endure the risk and losses associated with shipping, where these birds were already a week or two old, so well on their way. They are growing like mad, of course, that thirty percent protein feed really packs on the pounds!

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