Our turkeys have gained quite a reputation for themselves in two short years with customers returning for more. We hatch the eggs at home in June/ July and after a few weeks under the gas brooders they venture outdoors. It’s always a little quiet on the farm after Christmas when the sound of ‘gobble gobble’ is no longer! :-(
We got a great deal on two 13′ x 7′ by Elbec with strong construction, solid tongue and groove floors and windows along one wall. We’re thinking of putting up a partition within each shed with a separate hatch from each side – meaning we can house two different ages of our meat birds within one shed or possibly have a brooder on one side???
We deliberated for ages on fencing and were about to have some permanent pens constructed but we kept finding problems with the lack of flexibility in such a set up. Then we realised we already had some of our ducks fenced in a way we could keep them safe but rotate the ground they were on easily and quickly….using Heras fencing! Now it’s not the most attractive choice of fencing but it meets our needs perfectly and means that by carefully positioning the sheds we can rotate the chickens on the ground surrounding them. So, 50 panels of Heras fencing is being delivered in a few days time!
All that is left is to source some slabs for the shed’s foundations. We’ve found Gumtree to be a great place to get slabs cheaply, sometimes free…so my eyes are peeled for some being given away locally and we’ll rush straight round for them with the trailer!
The solution to our poultry fencing needs isn’t as pretty as a white picket fence, it isn’t as cheap as stock fencing BUT it will allow us to up sticks and move the poultry on to fresh pasture with the minimum of fuss, it will stop them from flying out and be a pretty good deterrent for Mr Fox! If we change our mind and opt for something else at a later date then it can always be used during the house build. It will also hold its value so could be easily sold on. It’s perfect!!!
Fifty sheets of Heras fencing, along with brackets and some gates will be delivered in a couple of days. The next part of my poultry master plan is to figure out a way of making the new chicken sheds (arriving next week!) mobile??? I’m thinking old trailer chassis 😀
With eggs ready to hatch hubbard chicks in the incubator it was time to make a bit of space for them at home so the turkey chicks were moved out to the farm. A temporary enclosure was constructed from those ever useful pallets we have lying around and a gas heat lamp/ brooder was suspended above it. The turkeys were absolutely fine. They have already grown at a remarkable rate and their feathers are sprouting so they should be fine and cozy in the barn with the pigs.
Later it was home to clean out and sterilised their old brooder cage ready for tomorrow…
After a few messages plotting our meeting I arrived at the Argos carpark with a black box containing the precious cargo….Judith was already there, and after some important instructions the box was handed over. Has this farmer turned in to a spy ferrying important documents….?
No she was handing over 4 turkey chicks to their new owner who had replied to an online advert 😉 Judith has reared turkey before but from an older age – like us she had found they grew too big so was looking for birds that would be smaller by Christmas….hopefully having started a month later this year none of our customers will have to chop off a leg to make their turkey fit in to the oven!!! 😀
The 2012 turkeys have hatched! It started on Monday night and all eggs that were going to hatch have done so by this morning.
I’ve found turkeys to be rather soft compared to chickens and the hatching process tends to be more complicated too. I had taken some video footage of them hatching but it had to be cut short when I realised that one of the turkeys had essentially pulled out part of it’s intestine while hatching. This ended up being the case with over a dozen of them and I managed to repair and save all but one of them – it sadly had to be culled 🙁
Here is a little clip of them all dry and settled in their brooder…can you spot the odd ones out? We seem to have also hatched a white turkey and four unknown black ones…oh well, I’m sure they’ll all taste the same! 🙂
We are selling some of our stock to other smallholders and keeping around 60 to raise for our Christmas market….this will be the third year for some of our customers, it’s great they enjoy them so much that they keep returning 🙂
This years turkeys are ‘cooking’ in the incubators as I type. I candled the eggs last night to see how many appeared to be viable and remove any ‘dead’ ones. To my surprise it looks like we are going to have a bumper hatch rate with around 70 hatching this weekend and as many as 90 hatching around the 30th!!!
We could keep them all to rear for Christmas but are happy to sell some to others to rear their own Christmas Dinner 🙂
We had hoped to have our turkey eggs in the incubator a week or two ago but our supplier went on holiday (the cheek of him! 🙂 ) So, today we did the three hour round trip to collect 100 turkey eggs from him in Ayrshire.
They were two heavy to travel back on our lap and with two balmy dogs in the car the only option was to put them in the boot. At last I found a use for the four horse mats I bought from Lidl a year ago (I know I don’t have a horse….but they were such a bargain!!!) and they made a great job of cushioning the ride for the eggs!
Once home we’ll set them for 24-36 hours (basically just let them get used to the temperature and be still) before popping them in to our incubators. I know from previous years that our large Brinsea incubator will only take 80-85 turkey eggs so I’ll pop the rest in the Fiem machine currently hatching some duck eggs (hopefully!). Here’s the corner of our library all set up for incubating and hatching…
So, we’re a week or two behind schedule but as our turkeys always come out a little on the large size it may be no bad thing sending them off a week or two younger than before.
Our turkeys seel out well before Christmas with many customers buying for the second and third year! So don’t delay, order yours now 🙂
Hi Gillian/David Just finished our second pack of bacon and just about to sample a gigot joint. This is First Class meat. The bacon is probably the best ever and the joints are excellent. The big chops are amazing and the bones…