Turkey Trouble!

You might recall that we hatched several lots of turkeys over the past few months. the first lot hatched in the incubator and emerged on 25th September. They are now getting quite big, there are eleven of them. Next a brood of six hatched by one of the black hens that we set, they are about a month behind the other lot.Then two separate lot,s one of five and one of two that hatched from the turkeys I set under the broody black hens  when Peter was in hospital, they are about ten days apart. What has happened is that the incubator ones lived on their own in one of the small sheds for two months, while the others ended up all together in the big shed. They formed one big flock with three mothers and thirteen chicks of various ages and stages. Not the way to go but it has sort of worked. Our plan is for the little shed to get divided into three broody cages and the big shed also get divided into three so broody hens can sit and raise their chicks in isolation and then we can put the hens out and leave the chicks there for a bit until they grow. However at this stage that has not happened so we had  thirty one turkeys all in the big shed together. Throughout the day, when they are out they formed three distinct groups. Bruce, the gobbler with the three white hens, the eleven incubator chicks  and the three mothers with their thirteen chicks between them.This is where the trouble starts. Bruce and his girls tend to stay near the house and sheds and not travel far so they are not much of an issue except for finding the nests they have made to lay in. The incubator chicks are very independent and have taken to roaming far and wide, despite the fact that there is plenty of good food near the shed. Zoe found them out on the road the other day and they have also started to fly into the garden.The three mothers have also started to roam, with the thirteen chicks, some of which are still quite small. Getting them all into their safe shed at night has become quite an issue. Yesterday they were halfway up our back hill and when Peter went to hunt them in one of the black hens and two chickens ran away. Eventually we got them all back in but needed to make a plan to sort them all out a bit.
We plan to sell about half of them soon so today have divided them up into two groups. the little ones have gone into the back shed without their mothers and the incubator ones have had their wing feathers clipped   to stop them flying into the garden and over fences. We also put yellow tags on their legs so we will be able to identify them as they grow. Doing all this was quite a production and then just as we put the little ones in their new home we realised that they have also become good at flying  as one flew right to the top of the shed, where there is about a four inch gap that they could get through. We then cut their wing feathers too. As we completed that one of the little ones escaped through a piece of mesh.
  Now we have twelve where they should be and one little chick getting mothered by three anxious black hens. We will have to catch it again this evening.

The runaway chick

Chicks in their new quarters.

Bruce, the gobbler, is still anxiously gobbling and trying to round up  his girls and the incubator chicks have recovered from the stress of it all and are off foraging, not too far I hope.


Tracy said…
Our turkeys have'nt ever run away but they certainly get aggressive when they get a bit older. We ended up wtih 4 young males at once and they fought a lot. They ended up in the freezer or sold at the local poultry auctions. They also eat a lot too.
Still, I love my turkeys.

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