Monday, July 19, 2010


A couple months ago we took in a few chickens from people who didn't want them anymore. Shortly later we met some friends who were wanting to get into chickens. We gave them these. The little farm girl was sad to see the funny-head chickens go, but when I said they were going to a family who didn't have any chickens at all she responded with, "No chickens, Mommy!?!?! They need them really bad!!!" And that was the end of her sorrow.

Well, that family ended up not wanting them too much. They had built a very large and heavy pen and with their property being a touch low, they just didn't have enough dry ground to keep up the fresh grass supply. So they gave the chickens back... with the pen!

This is a HUGE blessing! My wheels immediately started turning thinking of what we could do with this awesome pen. (We gave away the chickens on craigslist) So, it's only natural that I started thinking about TURKEYS!

Our last turkey attempt was 2 years ago with industry-standard double-breasted turkeys. We ordered 4 poults, 2 survived which we named Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving was a big Tom that weighed over 50 pounds at slaughter. He was 37 pounds dressed and I had to haul him into the bathtub for the final cleaning before slaughter. And then who has a roasting pan for a 37 lb bird? We decided then and there to never raise frankenfoods again (all double-breasted birds are artificially inseminated as they are too big breasted to mount and mate naturally). Yet ordering heritage breeds required a much bigger order and cost almost double the standard breeds. So we decided we would wait until we were ready to really do turkeys... as in get a starter batch and keep some for breeding and hatch out our own birds each year. This pen is perfect for that. It's a bit small for a bunch of full-grown turkeys, but it has a side door for day-ranging. We may convert our old goat barn into an overflow turkey night house. We can let them out during the day, round them back up at night, let the hens hatch out a clutch in the spring and slaughter the extras in the fall. The toms aren't nearly as noisy as roosters so it just might work.

But even better, we found a local source (several of them!) for poults and picked up 10 of them the very next day. We have 6 Blue Slates and 4 Royal Palms. They've been here a week and are all doing very well. We aren't day ranging them at this size. We'll wait until they are considerably bigger and start with a small area before we turn them out to the pasture. We'll be just shy of "market weight" by Thanksgiving so we'll probably just slaughter one then and wait until Christmas for a few more. We'll over winter maybe 4 or 5 and see how they do in the spring!


  1. Nice turkeys and great find! We not only don't have a local source, aside from the feed store; BUT, said feed store sold us three "turkey poults" which turned out to be ONE turkey and two Rhode Island Red chickens! Turkey poults and Rhode Island Red chicks look very similar...

  2. I'm so excited for you! Wonderful find. I'll be salivating come Thanksgiving knowing what we will be missing. Boy do I wish our yard was bigger. I just don't think we could handle turkeys on less than 1/10th an acre.

    Lots of stories please.

  3. Ha! just read my own mistake... i cleaned the turkey in the bathtub AFTER slaughter! But hey, hope the thought brought some levity. :->