Turkeys Again

The baby turkeys arrived this morning, from Cackle Hatchery in Missouri. We’ve been pleased with the value we’ve received from them in the past; they’re not the slickest operation, and don’t have the fanciest catalogs, but the prices are good and they deliver a quality product.

We ordered ten Bourbon Reds and five Blue Slates; we’ve never had Blue Slates before, and thought we’d experiment with something new. They sent sixteen poults, but unfortunately we had two deaths in transit. This is no surprise; it’s unusual for every single bird to survive. But since we didn’t get the full 15 alive on arrival, I need to call them and arrange for a partial refund. They’re usually quite good about doing that.

In the past, when we’ve tried to raise huge numbers of birds, we had an enormous brooder set up. Over time, we learned to scale back and focus more on family food production — and so our brooder needs simplified themselves as well. For the 15 poults, I’m using a big rubber stock tank; I think it holds 40 or 50 gallons, and is what we used to water the sheep out in the pasture. Hopefully they won’t outgrow it before we can move them out to pasture pens. (Which reminds me…I need to build some pasture pens. All our old ones got left behind in Illinois.)

Note the 250 watt heat lamp suspended from the ceiling. The poults quickly ran away from it and huddled in the corner, which indicates the bulb is too low (making the brooder too hot). I raised it, and will check on them in a bit. If they’re all huddled up directly under it, that means the lamp is too high and needs to be lowered. Sounds low-tech, but this is more effective than using a thermometer! I’ll probably end up substituting a 125 watt bulb at a lower height, but wanted to start off with plenty of heat in case these guys were chilled from their long trip.

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