Sanctuary Ridge Adventures in Farming

Turkey Babies

We named this one Christmas!

Heritage Turkeys

Before we began this farming adventure, I had no idea there were so many different kinds of turkeys! I thought they were either wild or from a farm. I have loved watching all the wild turkeys on our farm. There is hardly a day that goes by without seeing one here!

As with most things, I am learning so much about the different turkeys and what their purpose is on the farm. Here are some fun turkey facts:

  1. Turkey babies will cry for you! They want to be near you and are very vocal about it when they can’t see you. This is both sweet and a little annoying at times. Last week we were working on the Goat Cabin only a few feet from the turkey crate. They cried all day because they knew we were close but couldn’t see us. Every time Jamey didn’t need me, I made my way into their view so they would stop crying!
  2. Turkeys are very docile. They will keep the peace in the chicken house. If a rooster is too aggressive with the hens, the turkey will let him know.
  3. A Tom Turkey will perform his mating “dance” for you sometimes. I am hoping to see this!
  4. Heritage Turkeys don’t grow as fast as the grocery store Turkey’s you buy for Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner. It takes a heritage turkey around nine months to mature enough for the dinner table. The Turkey in the supermarket takes around 8 weeks because it has gone through a selective breeding process to gain weight at a much faster rate than other breeds. It’s the same with super market chickens.
  5. A heritage turkey is one of a variety of strains of domestic turkey which retains historic characteristics that are no longer present in the majority of turkeys raised for consumption since the mid-20th century.

Blue Slate Turkey

I blame Facebook. I joined all the livestock pages, farm pages, and garden pages. Every single day there are new livestock “available” and I can not resist looking. First I look to see what is available. Then I research it. Would it be good for our farm? Is it a good price? Where are they located? I am not driving hours to haul an animal in my car while it bleats, cries, ect.

So a local farmer posted Blue Slate Turkeys. She was hatching them in an incubator. Because turkeys are susceptible to disease, it is common for people to keep them in a separate enclosure from the chickens. I really had to think about this. It would be a no-brainer to add turkeys to the farm if they could just be with the chickens. Even as babies, they are big enough to stand on their own AND it is warm enough outside for them now. Keeping them separate would be a LOT more work for me.

Ultimately, I decided to get two of them and just try it! Here they are at two weeks and five weeks old They grow so fast! Look at all those new feathers already!

Watch this video to hear the turkey babies cry!

As you can hear, they are quite loud! They were almost 2 weeks old when brought them home. They lived in a large dog kennel in the garage until last week, when I moved them to one of our barns. I open the barn door everyday so they can get fresh air and to introduce them to the chickens. Because turkeys are really difficult to determine the gender, we will have to wait two more months to see if we have boys, girls, or one of each. Madison came up with their names- the gray one is “Christmas” and the black one is “Thanksgiving”. We are calling them “Chrissy” and “Givings”. I am hoping for one of each so we can try to hatch more next spring. If not, we will have “Christmas” and “Thanksgiving” for dinner this Fall!

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