Ever had Turkeys? They are hilarious. Naughty but hilarious and to be fair, they settle down with age.
We bought 5 turkeys in November of 2013. Turkeys are known to attack snakes and given that we live in Brown snake country, they would be another form of border protection aside from our usual vigilance. When we got them they were about a week old and not much bigger than a chick. Cute and curious.
Feeding and housing them is pretty much the same as chicks (chicken). It took a lot of research and I actually found it quite difficult to find information about Turkeys. There is a lot more now as the backyard raising of Turkeys has become more popular.
As with chicks, they need to be under lights initially (8 to 10 weeks, maybe longer depending on your climate) to keep them warm. Having raised chicks for several years now, you get a feel for when it’s time to put them outside. As we live in a cold climate, I don’t even consider having chicks until the end of September, at least. It’s too hard to keep them warm and they will die if they are not warm enough.
The housing is simple. A big plastic tub with a lid incorporating low wattage lights. The bedding can be newspaper with a minimal covering of sugar cane mulch on the floor and they need clean food and water daily. When they are small, the bedding can be replaced every few days however as they get older, it needs to be every day.
When the turkeys were small, I could pick all of them up and they would all go to sleep on my chest. Five little babies out cold, all snug and warm. As they get older though, they want to climb to your shoulder and peck at your earrings and ferret around in your hair. It tickles and you can’t help but giggle. Turkeys will seek the highest place to perch so it wasn’t long before they graduated from my shoulder to the top of my head.
They grow like wildfire and become more curious and very naughty. The highest place to perch soon becomes the bonnet of the car (I still have scratches to be polished out) and eventually the roof of the house. The first time I heard one of the hens on our corrugated iron roof, it scared the crap out of me. She travelled the length of the house and at the other end looked over the gutter at me with her one eye. Cheeky little bitch. Clipped wings after that….
There have been many funny incidents in the time that we have had them.
Washing the car when they were smaller was definitely an episode. If I was outside, I had five Turkeys at my feet. My car is a hatch back and if I opened the hatch, they would be in. Almost a personality like a dog. On this particular day I am trying to Armorall and vacuum the car and the Turkeys have untied my shoe laces, pecked at my backside (look at me, look at me!) and attempted several times to steal my cleaning cloth.
On another car cleaning occasion, I was surprised that none of the Turkeys were hanging around and I couldn’t hear them. When I investigated, the power chord that I had run from inside the laundry had left the door ajar (because I hadn’t secured it properly and it was blowing a gale that day) and all five Turkeys had made themselves quite at home on the lounge chairs. Thankfully no shit…
When the concrete for the new machinery shed was done, we were short one concrete pad due to incomplete plans. Joe the concretor (great guy) made a special trip out to rectify the problem. While he was filling the 15 litre water container (as there was no water available close to the shed) the Turkeys were happily keeping him company, of course. When it came time to put the lid on though, it took Joe several minutes to find it as one of the Turkeys had moved it.
If B2 was working on his bikes outside, the naughty Turkeys would often take off with nuts and bolts or try and move shiny tools. They love shiny things, even now, so I don’t wear any jewellery when I’m around them as they take skin off trying to remove it.
I think they smell fear. Even though our Turkeys are very placid having been hand raised from a young age, if you show any fear, they dominate (not in a vicious way, more of an invade your personal space kind of way). They were not impressed with MIL and as a result, she didn’t spend much time outside unless they were locked up.
It’s not long before they start showing off. It takes a lot of effort to produce the fluffed up stance and as they get older, the noise that they make sounds like there is heavy machinery nearby (this is particular to the males). Hard to describe, you have to hear it to believe it.
Their vocab is quite extensive. They have a sound for every occasion. I was watering the veggie garden last week and Turkey Girl (as she is affectionately known) started to make her warning sound. It’s a low pitch trill however when I hear it I know what it means. One eye was pointed skywards and up above were six eagles. I have never seen six eagles at once, three has been the maximum.
Out of the five, we ended up with three males and two females. The males have to be separated now, as they fight (to the death I would imagine if they were allowed). One male has been eaten (sad however that’s life on the farm and he had a VERY good life) and the two girls live with the chooks. One of the girls lays an egg about four times a week.
Would we do it again? Not sure, thinking about it for later this year.
Please feel free to ask questions or comment if your experiences with Turkeys have been different.