Turkey Babies
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A little over a month ago we welcomed our second (and final) batch of Broad Breasted White turkey poults to Polyface. Total, we received 850 birds – 400 hens and 450 toms. The toms moved on to be raised at one of our rental farms and the hens stayed here… with me! These little girls grew up in our mini brooder, and they remained there until they were four weeks old. Then, onto pasture! Currently, they’re in shelters, like the broilers. After that, they’ll move to a gobbledygo surrounded by electrified poultry netting.

200 day-old turkeys in the mini brooder

Day-old turkeys in the mini brooder

 

Until they moved onto pasture, however, I got the take care of them every morning and afternoon. Aside from Turkey Starter feed, the hens also received starter grit once a day and fresh cuts of grass/clover twice a day. Additionally, I would often add new sawdust and stir their bedding for them. Turkeys don’t scratch and mix up their bedding like chickens do. So, in order to keep their bedding clean and fresh, I would have to do this for them. Overall, I found that I quite enjoyed these ladies… they really made me laugh! Unlike broiler chicks, turkeys are a lot… slower. They just like to drift around, take a little afternoon nap, or test their patience and hunting skills on a fly.

just hangin' out

just hangin’ out

 

One of my favorite parts of my day was when I got to throw some fresh cuts of grass to the poults. They would go absolutely wild! Ditching all the feed I’d just given them, the girls barrel head first into the pile of greens (this is probably the only time in the entire day that they move faster than a turtle). Once one has a piece secured in her beak, she tries to quickly gobble it up before one of her fellow hen snatches it right out of her mouth! It’s not uncommon to see one poult running around with a real nice, lush piece firmly planted in her beak with three others chasing after her… even though there are hundreds of other grass pieces sitting just inches away! All in all, it’s a real entertainment to take moment to watch these silly girls.

 

munchin' on some grass!

munchin’ on some grass!

 

Like I mentioned, the poults have now retired the brooder and are out on pasture. Stayed tuned for updates and current pictures on them!

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About Miriam Gust

Miriam grew up among the lakes of beautiful central Minnesota and is the youngest of four. She is devoted to serving her King Jesus, and she finds great joy in spending time outside (especially while farming and hunting!) and in simply sharing a cup of coffee with friends or family. She looks forward to continuing to learn and grow at Polyface and is eager to trust the Lord with whatever the future may hold.
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6 Responses to Turkey Babies

  1. Rachel says:

    “They just like to drift around, take a little afternoon nap, or test their patience and hunting skills on a fly.” I love u !!!

  2. David & Tina says:

    Great post, Miriam! We love turkeys and hope to raise them again in the near future. Quick question….based on the pictures, I only see turkey poults. Does Polyface no longer raise their poults with broiler chicks as “teachers”? (I remember hearing Joel talk about that before.)
    Can’t wait to see more pictures as they grow up and also of the rest of your turkey operation.

    • Miriam Gust says:

      Hi David and Tina–

      You are correct, up until this year we raised our broiler chicks and poults together. However, due to the higher mortality than we would have liked to have seen in our turkeys, we conducted a little experiment last year to determine if the turkeys would do better raised separately. We found the poults stayed a lot healthier, seemed less stressed, and that the overall mortality was significantly lower. So, this year, we started raising them on their own, and we gave them quite a bit of special attention each day. I liked to call them my “high-maintenance ladies!” Hope that answers your question and that your future endeavors with these fun birds brings you as many smiles as it did me 🙂

  3. Rose says:

    Oh my goodness, so adorable! Love your descriptions. 🙂 Well written!

  4. Bobby says:

    What hatchery did you get these at all I’ve seen sale straight run only? Do you know how much they weigh before/after (live weight vs hanging weight)butcher at 16 weeks hens and toms? Also what % protein do you feed? Thank you and God bless