Turkeys like it warm and I was told to put them with my baby chickens and they would keep them warm. It did seem to help until my dad found seven of them dead one morning under a pile of baby chickens. They stayed warm but had smothered to death. Anyone who has raised animals hates to lose any, it is almost devastating to lose seven in one night.
Once they were out on pasture they seemed to thrive on it. They grew with great vigor. They would dive onto the clover in the fields like chickens on a June Bug. It seems like the turkeys loved the grass more than the chickens did. They feathered out in no time and did very well as summer turned to fall.
The birds had personality as well. Our chickens are fun to watch but to be honest they have the personality of a paper bag and only care about one thing, eating. These turkeys, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy life. The toms would gobble and strut just like their wild counter parts. They were also very curious. They wanted to check every thing out and many times would ride on top of the pins as I would move them to their new spot in the field.
Big Tom, pictured above, became the family favorite. He would greet us almost daily in full strut and with a hearty gobble. Raising animals like this is a lot of fun, but the down side is the attachment that sometimes comes. You try to limit it but it is inevitable. Just like the inevitability of attachment, so is Thanksgiving. That day comes and things must move forward. Big Tom dressed at 22lbs., far bigger than I ever expected. The folks that got him seemed very pleased with him as well.
We had fun with the turkeys last summer and are looking forward to having them on the farm this year. My dad enjoyed them so much I am looking into buying a few heritage breed turkeys, these will be permanent residents of the farm (dad grew particularly fond of Big Tom). I am also considering an earlier run of turkeys if folks would like turkey before Thanksgiving or Christmas (please let us know if you are interested). I also have saved the best news for last, a price change. We are lowering the price of our pastured turkeys. This year they will be $3.75 per pound. I am sure that will make some folks more thankful at Thanksgiving.