Getting Started With Heritage Turkey Poults
I have some exciting news to share with y'all! Guess what I'm getting in the mail this coming week????? WHAT? How'd you guess...oh I guess I have it in the title, don't I? Oh well.
Let me begin at the beginning...
A dear friend of mine contacted me about hatching her out some turkey poults for their lone Royal Palm tom (male turkey). I got to work trying to find a breeder who would send me some hatching eggs, but none of the ones I could find shipped eggs, only live poults. So after some discussion she decided she'd go that route. After talking with the breeder I found out they have a 15 poult minimum order, so the poults can keep warm during shipment. My friend didn't want 15 poults, but 3-4 so I put my thinking cap on and came up with a solution. I would split the order with her and then she can sell her extra poults that she didn't need locally. She is getting 8 Royal Palm poults, and I'm getting 4 Slate and 3 Lavender Poults. They will be shipped off Monday evening from the Tuscon AZ Post Office, and will (hopefully) arrive at our local P.O on Wednesday morning, where I will go pick them up. Or I might be able to persuade our mail lady to bring them to us.
My plan is to raise them up until I can see what gender they are, and hopefully I'll have a couple extra toms that I don't need that can be Thanksgiving dinner. The rest will be kept as breeders/pets (who ever said you couldn't have a pet turkey??). Then annually I will hatch several poults out to put in the freezer. This is my plan at the moment, but plans do and will change, so I guess we'll see what happens up the road.
Turkeys and chickens shouldn't be mixed unless they are free ranging together, then it would probably be ok. However, the breeder tells me that turkeys are great fliers (and I know this to be a fact, as our wild turkeys here on the ranch are amazing fliers) so I will either have to clip their wings (but even then I'm afraid they could easily top my 4' chainlink fence), inclose their run and put a top on it, or just forget keeping them in and let them free range. But I don't think the latter will be an option as we have awful predator problems round about and I'm not getting turkeys to feed to the local wildlife, thank you very much! ;)
So until they arrive I will be on pins and needles! Somebody give me an occupation or I shall run mad! Help!
I plan on moving the geese into stalls (that have yet to be built) inside the poultry building, and then I will tear out the stalls in the goose house, add roosts and whatever the turkeys will need, and that can be their house and yard. However, I wasn't planning on having the poults this early, so I'm not quite sure how this is going to affect the Meaties, as I was also planning on keeping them in the goose house/yard until butchering time. Hmmmmm....perhaps I could make them a temporary PVC pipe chicken tractor with wire wrapped around it that I could move around to different spots of grass daily? Ideas anyone?
As with all my critters, I will be raising these poults as naturally as possible, so I'm excited to see how they do! I've heard poults (and adults turkeys) are not to bright and are even dumper than chickens...hard to believe I know, right? ;) I know quite a few people who keep a baby chick or two in with their turkey poults for the first week or so to help teach them to eat and drink, because apparently poults can starve to death because they don't know where their food/water is, even though it's right in front of their face.
Once they arrive I will be raising them inside for the first few weeks (I better find a BIG brooder that will hold 15 poults!) until my friend can come pickup hers, then I will probably move mine outside and figure out housing for them. I'm contemplating buying them another 10' x 10' x 6' dog kennel, like I have for the peafowl and call ducks/bantams. However those run about $300.00 brand new, so it might take me awhile before I can get them one. Have you ever raise turkeys? What kind of housing set-up did you have? What did you feed them?
As far as feed goes, when I was in town last week I picked up a 50lb bag of (very expensive) 27% protein gamebird starter. After I bought it I found it was medicated. My preference is unmedicated on ALL of my feeds. If I want anything added to my poultry's feed I'll do it myself, but oh well. Once they get used to eating the gamebird crumbles I will start adding in scrambled/boiled eggs, perhaps some mealworms if I can spare them, fodder, and all sorts of goodies.
Tired of my rambling about the turkey poults I haven't even got yet? Stopping now...enjoy looking at these pictures. ;)
Below: Slate poult
Below: Lavender poult
Slates in back, Lavender hen in front. You can see the difference in their color pattern.
Lavender and Royal Palm toms.
Got any advice for a 1st time turkey owner? Lay some wisdom on me......
Expect to be bombarded with adorable poult pictures very soon! :0