Gobble Gobble
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For the last couple of months I’ve been managing one of the three turkey groups here at Polyface. I have approximately 300 turkeys in my group. It has been a pleasure taking care of the turkeys as they are funny, quirky little creatures.

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At Polyface, we brood the turkeys with our broilers.  At three weeks, they all go into broiler pens together and get moved to fresh pasture every day. At seven weeks, we take the turkeys out of the broiler pens and put them in feathernet enclosures with a gobbledygo for shade and roosting.

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Gobbledygo with feed buggy. The gobbledygo provides shade and roosts for the turkeys.

 

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This is the most recent gobbledygo design.

 

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Currently, the turkeys I am managing are enclosed in three nets so they have plenty of space. The number of nets is dictated by how big the turkeys are and the number of turkeys in the group. Turkeys are moved every other day. On the days when turkeys don’t get moved, chores involve feeding, checking water, grit and spark.

We process turkeys when they are 16 or 17 weeks old.  Processing turkeys is very similar to processing chickens except they are much bigger.  Also, we cut the turkey’s feet off before we put them in the scalder and picker so that they are less likely to get caught up/stuck in the mechanisms. In my experience, it has been a fun change of pace to process turkeys.

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Turkeys like to follow. Here they are following me as I go to check their water. Turkeys are always good for a smile.

 

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About Heather Juda

Heather was born in Atlanta, GA, but spent 19 years in Colorado before moving to Virginia. She came to Polyface for the 2012 internship and has stayed on as the first female apprentice. She became interested in the food industry when she was in high school, and over the years sought to eat in a healthier way through community gardening, hunting and supporting local farmers. She had a very blessed and “comfortable” life in Colorado complete with a good IT career and condo, but on a calling from the Lord, she left it all to start a new life in farming at Polyface. She looks forward to seeing what the Lord has planned for the future and hopes to use what she learns at Polyface to provide healthy food for people!
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5 Responses to Gobble Gobble

  1. Eileen says:

    I am raising one Bourbon Red. He is awesome. I tell people lambs are like dogs and turkeys are like cats lol.

  2. Lynn says:

    Thanks for your post today! Just in time too! I am getting 15 broad breasted turkeys on Friday and 30 BB chicks on Monday. Glad to see you brood them together. I do too and was wondering if I am crazy. ( well, yes). Seeing the gobbledygo helps me to create a more permanent structure for the turkeys!

  3. Leilani says:

    Thank you for the great post and pictures. We hatched out our first turkeys this year from some eggs donated by a friend. Of the five that hatched we are down to two (lost two to a coon while they were in a tractor that didn’t have electro net around it and the other just dropped dead). It looks like we lucked out and the remaining two are male and female so no turkey for thanksgiving this year
    but parents to make future turkey dinners we hope.

  4. Helen says:

    Good article, like the pictures. If you already raise chickens, turkeys are a good addition. They are quite entertaining too. They taste way better than store bought and better for you.

  5. Jackie King says:

    Just came across your post. Great piece. How do you water these turkeys? and do you set up an additional set of 3-4 poultry nets to usher in the turkeys to new pasture?