Olivia   September 13, 2017   34 Comments on Turkeys

Our barn used to have chickens, which I really loved because they were cute and laid yummy eggs and you could play with the chicks.

You could also dress them in halloween costumes.

So fun!

Sadly, all of our good egg-laying chickens were killed by raccoons a few years ago. The replacements turned out to almost all be males and ended up being given away because all they did was crow and fight and provide no eggs for all their annoyance. This last year, our barn owner kept saying she was going to get chicks and it kept not happening.

I asked if I could get turkeys instead and she agreed. Apparently, she’s had turkeys as pets before and loved them. But she really wanted heritage turkeys instead of the white, mass-farmed type. Heritage turkeys are kinda hard to find so it took me a while, but we tracked down 2 turkey poults (chicks).

I thought they were really cute. My husband thought they were ugly, which is really probably a better feeling to have regarding turkeys.

Texts with my barn owner

My barn owner said the males were friendlier than the females, but the guy selling them didn’t know their sexes, so we just picked the 2 that were the easiest to catch.

Back at the barn, we set up the old chicken coop with bedding and food and water. We had to buy a few supplies over the last week, but we’ve got most everything for them at this point.

They were only 4 weeks old when we got them and the guy said they’d been outside without a heat lamp. I was really worried they’d die though because the articles I was reading said to keep them under a heat lamp until 8 weeks or so and that baby turkeys are very fragile and die really easily from disease and cold and basically everything. So I didn’t even bother posting about them here because I kept expecting to show up the next day and find them dead. That could still happen, but they’ve made it a week so I feel a little safer about introducing them on the blog.

The only real problem is, they’re ridiculously friendly. That’s a problem because I’m a sucker and I don’t know if I can eat these things if they’re gonna act like pets instead of vicious attack beasts like all the turkeys I’ve met. Not that I’ve met a lot of turkeys, but still. These two just follow us all over the place and come running over any time you go past their cage.

They are, however, insanely stupid. One of them walked into Nilla’s stall, then started alarm peeping/crying because it couldn’t figure out how to get back out. The door it walked in was still wide open. They door to Nilla’s paddock was wide open. There were multiple avenues of escape that are big enough for a mule to fit through and the turkey was stuck. I walked over, the turkey saw me and then came running over to escape. I have watched them get “stuck” on the other side of their open cage door. Like, just go any direction other than forward and there is nothing there. You just have to turn.

so dumb

Apparently humans have messed domesticated turkeys up so much that they can’t survive more than 2 years as they get too big for their bones and will actually crush themselves to death. So eating them is better than that. In theory. I don’t eat red meat for ethical reasons; I gave that up a long, long time ago. But I do like eating turkey. And these turkeys will at least have a nice life running around the barn (the cage is only until they’re a little older) and eating good food instead of living on a factory farm. I dunno though. I’ve never raised my own turkeys. We’ll see if it actually happens.

Has anyone ever raised turkeys?

34 thoughts on “Turkeys

    1. Olivia Post author

      We actually just call them turkeys. Like here, turkeys. Occasionally I will call them by food name, like here dinner or here lunch to try to keep a distance.

  1. Leah

    We have had a few, but you’re right, they’re incredibly fragile. I won’t let my husband buy any more after watching the last few die 🙁

    1. Sara

      I keep asking the hubby for chickens but since we rent he isn’t too fond of that idea. What would we do with chickens if we needed to move back to suburbia? Those turkeys are adorable. I didn’t know they would crush themselves at 2. Insane.

      1. Olivia Post author

        Chickens are so fun though and the eggs are seriously a lot better than store eggs. You should get some. You could totally find someone to take them if you end up moving back.

  2. Megan

    Those turkeys are cute! I’ve been wanting to grow out a couple of turkeys, but haven’t gotten around to it. I’m surprised to hear the heritage breeds still have bone issues.

  3. Cruisen in Stilettos

    There are wild ones at my folks house, a whole raft of them comes running when you rattle the grain bin lid 😀 and the Mommas aren’t too bright either; when the babies were just tiny she would “forget” where she had hid them and circle the house for hours calling for them (she did eventually re-find them o_O

  4. Jamie

    We raised a few turkey’s when I was younger for Thanksgiving dinner.. it is true that they get too big, one of the birds we raised had no breast feathers because he was so big he had to slide his breast on the ground.. he couldn’t walk properly. I was too young at the time to realize that was not normal.. 🙁

  5. Carly

    Oh man are turkeys so dumb. I got half a dozen babies once and the guy at the feed store gave me a gallon bag of free food because he didn’t think they’d stay alive long enough to warrant a full bag. They didn’t. Stupid things perished of things like drowning in their own very shallow water dish by falling asleep in it and overheating because they were too dumb to move away from the heat lamp when they got hot.

  6. Nicole Sharpe

    WHUUUTTT. If they would stay that size and that cuteness I would FOR SURE keep them. They are so dang cute. I have not raised turkeys before, but I have butchered them before. It’s a lot easier than a chicken, since it’s much bigger and easier to move your hand around in there. And the end result is delicious!

  7. Nicole Sharpe

    Oh but apparently Benjamin Franklin (or some other founding father, not sure which one) wanted the Wild Turkey to be the national bird! CAN YOU IMAGINE!!!!!!!! Kinda sad/accurate foreshadowing for our current political climate.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I think his thought was they’re actually all over the country unlike bald eagles, but yeah, they’d be a rather sad mascot.

  8. Lisa Goodwin

    Oh my goodness they are adorable!!!!! We have chickens, and had ducks (they have yummy eggs too 🙂 ) And I have wanted to do turkeys, mainly for the meat, I love turkey too. But seeing how cute yours are running around, I think I would have a hard time eating them. We did have one rooster when we started our chicken raising journey and we aren’t allowed to have roosters, so we did butcher him when he was big enough. And yes, I can say I butchered a chicken, but it was weird eating him for dinner.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I think ducks would be fun to have. I’m not sure I’m going to be okay with eating them, but I am hoping that I’ll be more okay with it as they get older and uglier.

  9. Stacie Seidman

    I’ve not raised any birds except for a couple parakeets that didn’t live all that long either. I love that they follow you around! I have a whole flock of wild turkeys that hang around the backyard. Rio loves them.

    1. Olivia Post author

      We had some wild turkeys around our barn this year, but I hadn’t seen them any other year. I used to see tons of them back east.

  10. Kalin

    Heritage Turkey’s are typically not used for meat, more as pets. They are really sweet and get super attached to people! We’ve raised them, and I actually used to order and sell them at work so I got a lot of turkey experience, LOL.

    1. Olivia Post author

      The heritage ones are popular around here as meat. I’m told they’re tastier than the white mass-produced turkeys. I’ve never tried one though.

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