It was time. The turkeys had to go.
I do admit it was fun having them in the basement, and certainly while they are growing from little chickees into young turkeys it is advantageous to keep them in a safe and confined environment. But they should have been moved outside anywhere up to a month ago. I’ve discovered why most people don’t keep farm animals in their houses for a long time – eventually the poop and fly ratio becomes way too high! But hey, that’s learning, and it’s nothing that a bit of hard work won’t clean up.
The question was, where to put the turkeys. I did not want to put them with my other farm animals, as I have chickens, and chickens can carry a disease called blackhead disease which is pretty lethal to turkeys. Even though my turkeys have medication against blackhead in their feed, I did not want to chance it. I had read that Jenna (of Cold Antler Farm) was met with some turkey losses and I was a bit paranoid, so the area needed to be fenced in and we will lock the guys in at night. Three of them are Christmas dinners and the other three are my future breeding stock, so losing even one will not be great for me. So if anything the theme of the day was overbuild. And I’m sure we did. Mostly thanks to my pops though!
You see this wooden frame? It was built by my dad, it acted as a roof for the pickup truck when we transported the sheep on Saturday. We needed to store it on the farm period. I was on the deck looking out at the garden, the barn, and the truck, when the thought hit me – why not use it as the turkey’s home! That way it is stored and also serves a secondary purpose.
We built the turkey’s pen inside our garden. It’s a bit of a risk, but I don’t think the turkeys care too much about eating my produce, so far they seem much more interested in exploring and sunning themselves. Secretly I am also hoping they will police the garden and eat some of the bugs. But the biggest benefit in doing this is that the garden is already double fenced in. Combined with the pre-built home, a good three quarters of the job was already done for us. This is my style of farming!
We made the coop floor out of shipping pallets. These are free. I love them so much, I’ve used them everywhere and will continue to use them. Four of them, boarded together, inside the unfilled raised bed construction fit perfectly.
We then wrapped three of the four sides with chicken wire. This will prevent the dumb turkeys from getting caught in the slats. Yes, they really are that dumb. It will also prevent any predators from having an easy meal, although I haven’t seen any type of predator at all, no fox, no raccoon. Oh, there is a family of hawks or other large birds. But I don’t think they’ll have the cojones to come this close to the house.
Then we covered the floor and area with straw.
The last step was to make sure the turkeys wouldn’t just fly over the 4.5 foot fences, and this was done by clipping their wing. Each bird had their right wing feathers clipped. It doesn’t hurt them, it’s just like a haircut for you and I, although it does make them off-balance. The little guys were stumbling around for a few minutes until they got the hang of their new selves.
And here they are, in their new outdoor pen, enjoying a meal. I have yet to paint them up a little sign but I will, because this place deserves a name in recognition of the person who made the design possible: Poppy’s Haüs.
It’s only been half a day but I already miss their peeping sounds. The house is now so very quiet. That said, I do not miss the increase in fly population one bit. Next year, we already want to raise a much larger number of turkeys. Hopefully I will get a lot of the eggs from these very turkeys as well as purchasing some from local farmers.