Archive for June, 2009

Turkey Observations and Summary

June 26, 2009

Three turkeys bought in June 2008, $10 each, 1 gobbler and 2 hens.  Fully grown but young.  Named by youngest child, the gobbler is Turkettic, the brown hen is Beauty and the white hen is Turkepi.

The free range during the day and are locked into a good sized house at night which has roosts and 2 nests side by side.

The turkey hens began to lay the week of the 22nd September 2008

They laid approximately 1 egg every second day.

Turkepi the white hen begins to sit on her outside nest, we move her and her eggs in the evening into the house which is secure from predators but she abandons the eggs and stops laying for a couple of days then begins to lay again in her outside nest.  Determine to leave her alone this time and erect an electric fence to protect her.

Leave Turkepis’s eggs in the second nest after her abandoning them.  Turkettic the gobbler is occasionally found sitting on one of the nests overnight, then on Beauty’s eggs sometimes during the day.  Beauty lays on top of Turkepi’s original eggs at times since she can’t get onto her own nest.  After a bit both Turkettic and Beauty are found sitting overnight, but spend many hours off during the day.  Figure that the eggs may well be ruined by this.  Take some of Beauty’s more recent eggs and put them in Turkepi’s nest for when she begins to sit properly.

Both hens were sitting well by the 12th October.  Rig up fence around Turkepi.  Beauty the brown hen is sitting in the turkey house on the nest with Turkepi’s older eggs and her own more recent ones.  Turkettic is sitting on the adjacent nest with Beauty’s original eggs.

Turkepi has 13 eggs, Beauty has 16 and Turkettic has 9.

On 28th October found a dead mature looking poult in a broken egg and another broken egg outside of Turkettics nest.  It would appear he was startled during the night and leapt out breaking and dislodging the two eggs.  He is still sitting on the remaining 7 eggs.

On 31st October Lydia saw 2 live poults in the nest when Turkettic was off for a breather.  On checking we found and removed 2 dead poults (1 brown and 1 yellow) and 3 eggs which we placed in the incubator.

On 1st November the 2 poults move between the gobbler’s and Beauty’s nest.  One poult is seen out and about with Turkettic.

On 2nd November an egg in the incubator hatches.  Raised in brooder box.

On 3rd November both poults are out and about with Turkettic.  Beauty is off and on her nest a bit too.

On 5th November Beauty decides to stop brooding her eggs.  This was not immediately noticed because we were in town for the dentist and shopping.  On our return we find 1 poult in Beauty’s nest listless and cold and one egg half hatched.  We chase the turkeys back into the turkey house and the gobbler sits on the eggs while Beauty takes the other nest with the poults.

On 6th November both turkeys with the 2 poults go out in the morning and show no signs of sitting on the eggs anymore.  We check the nest and find the 2 from yesterday are dead.  Remove them and the remaining 14 eggs which we put in the incubator.  During the day 8 poults hatch, 7 yellow and 1 brown.  Attempt to return them to the turkeys in the evening but they will not sit on them so put them in the brooding box inside, separate from the original poult for now.

On 7th November check remaining eggs in incubator.  One of the eggs from Turkettic’s nest is smelling so remove it.  The other is cheeping.  Put original poult in with the gang.  Turkepi has remained sitting faithfully this whole time. Very bad rain overnight, hope she is okay with her lot.

On 8th November the cheeping egg hatches.  1 more brown poult.

On 9th November the one remaining egg from Turkettic’s nest had pipped in the morning and hatched late evening giving 1 more brown poult..  One of the yellow poults in the brooder box drowned in the water jar.  Change the water bowl!!!

On 10th November 2 more of Beauty’s eggs hatched.

On 11th November Turkepi came out with 8 poults.  Put remaining 5 eggs into the incubator.  Turkettic and Beauty attacked Turkepi so moved her into the garden area for now, she spent the evening in the nature strip.  One of Turkepi’s eggs in incubator has pipped.

On 12th November one of Turkepi’s poults, the brown one, died late in the day – possibly heat affected.  One shows strange neuroligical signs at times.  Turkepi and brood put into a dome in the afternoon.  2 of Turkepi’s eggs hatched and 2 of Beauty’s hatched in incubator, 1 needed help to hatch.

On 14th November help one of Turkepi’s eggs to hatch after hearing it chipping for a day and a half but not managing to even pip.


Turkettic’s nest of 9 eggs

1 egg not developed broken and knocked out of nest

1 egg matured but dead, broken and knocked out of nest in panic we think

2 hatched naturally but found dead for unknown reason

2 hatched naturally live and well

2 hatched in the incubator live and well

1 egg gone off and smelling after being in incubator

Beauty’s nest of 16 eggs

1 hatched but dead due to nest abandonment, because of neighbouring poults

1 half hatched but dead due to nest abandonment

1 hatched in incubator but later drowned

12 hatched in incubator live and well

1 put in incubator but did not hatch

Turkepi’s nest of 13 eggs

7 hatched naturally live and well

1 hatched naturally but died on second day

3 hatched in the incubator live and well

2 put in incubator but did not hatch


There are 2 yellow poults out and about with Turkettic and Beauty

Turkettic & Beauty’s poults hatched about 30th October 2008

There are 7 poults with Turkepi, 6 yellow and 1 yellowish brown

Turkepis poults hatched about 10th November 2008

There are 17 poults at the house, 12 yellow, 4 brown and 1 yellowish brown.

The oldest one is equivalent age to the two with Beauty and Turkettic.  The youngest one is not the best.  It has a bung eye and seems to feel cold a lot.  It would rather snuggle up to a light globe or person than forage.

Oldest poult at house hatched on 2nd November (Whitey)

Main clutch of 8 Beauty’s eggs hatched on 6th November

4 more hatched from 8th to 10th November

4 more hatched on 12th November

Last one hatched on 14th November (Bung Eye)

The house raised chicks were fed crushed grain.  Mostly a wheat and oats combination, sometimes with barley, also crushed peas, and powdered milk all mixed together.  They would also have breadcrumbs and cooked egg added to the mix when they were small.  They loved this mix and it was very hard to wean them from it when they got older.

The hen raised chicks would gather their own food when free ranging and would also be given some of the crushed grain mix twice a day.

As they grew they fed themselves on grasshoppers and grass etc while free ranging and got some grain (wheat, oats or barley) in the evenings and sometimes in the mornings when the bugs were not plentiful.

24/12/08   Smallest poult with bung eye died


One of the larger white poults died.  Began to look sleepy and lethargic few days ago with eating less, progressed to gasping and death.


One white poult of Turkepi’s taken by eagle.


Brown poult dies after similar symptoms from the previous white one.  Do a post mortem and research and find that they had brooder pneumonia.  No treatment available but it is not contagious either.  Sadly Whitey seems to have it as well.


3 white poults of Turkepi’s killed by quoll overnight.  It managed to get into the gardens despite the electric fences.  Think we worked out where it is getting in and have made alterations to prevent a recurrence.


Get brooder raised poults to mix with other turkeys and get them staying in the turkey house all together.


Whitey put down after weeks of brooder pneumonia and being unable to walk or stand.


One more poult dies after few weeks of similar symptoms to others.  Lungs again full of lesions, more throughout body cavity.

Currently 20 turkeys all hanging out together.

2 poults with Turkettic & Beauty

3 poults with Turkepi

12 brooder hatched poults

No further health problems.  Once they got beyond the tiny chick stage we lost a total of 4 poults to brooder pneumonia, 1 poult to an eagle and 3 to a quoll.

14/4/09 Slaughter and dress first young turkey.  Dressed weight 2kg.  Need longer to mature properly.

12/5/09  Slaughter and dress three more young gobblers.  Dressed weight ~ 2.75kg

10/6/09  Slaughter and dress last six young gobblers.  Dressed weights 2.8kg, 3.06kg, 3.09kg, 3.27kg, 3.31kg and 3.6kg.

Of the 3.6kg bird we got 970gm breast meat, 1190gm minced meat and 1.4kg carcass for dog food.

Give away 2 young white hens to friends.  Seven hens and Turkettic remaining.

Odds and ends

June 26, 2009

We have a sick household at the moment.  I came down with a nasty head cold last weekend which I generously shared with the rest of the family.  Thankfully by the time they were all falling like skittles I was improving and mostly able to keep the household running.  Right now the lounge room is echoing with the sounds of coughs and splutters.  At least I can sympathise as I know just what it feels like.  It amazes me just how wretched you can feel when all you have is the common cold!  I moaned and groaned my way though it.  However you really appreciate your heath again when you start to improve don’t you?  I am still congested and get that horrible tickle in the throat when trying to sleep, but I am much better than I was.  Hopefully the others will start to pick up again soon.  Lydia wants to go to a poultry sale in Devonport tomorrow so I am hoping she and I will be well enough to go.

We just finished a scrumptious home grown turkey roast dinner with all those delicious roast vegetables to go with it.  Mostly I have been cooking the breast meat as I would with chicken and mincing the leg meat.  The leg meat is dark, not like chicken at all.   I am glad to think that our birds had a good and enjoyable life, and we knocked them off quickly in familiar circumstances to minimise any stress.  I am also glad that they make nice dinners.  🙂   Anyway, they had a much better life than a store bought bird has had.  The dressed weight of the last batch of young gobblers was between 3 and 3.6kg which we thought was quite respectable. I must say it is nice to have only 8 turkeys to lock up at night, and only 1 gobbler among them.  The gobbler is happy the others have gone too, as they were all starting to challenge his place as top bird, and I am not too sure that he would have managed to maintain that status much longer.  It took them a little while to get used to being such a small flock again, but they seem settled now.  They take themselves off to bed each evening when it is getting dark and I have to remember to run down and lock them in to keep them safe from predators.

I like to be out at dusk.  One of the things I love about going to national parks and rain forests is getting out of the car and hearing all the bird song.  Now I just have to go outside when the day is nearing an end and I can hear birds singing in the swamp from my scruffy front yard.  It is beautiful and never fails to make me feel more peaceful.  Mind you I can rarely see the birds.  The swamp is pretty much impenetrable.  I guess you might get through it if you were wearing waders, leather jacket and gloves and armed with a machete.

The other night Kim went down to lock up the turkeys for me when I was sick with the cold.  He discovered that the birds had company in their house in the form of a brushtail possum who was curled up fast asleep in one of the nesting boxes.  He endeavoured to evict it but it resisted all efforts and seemed to be very groggy so he determined to go down later when it would be more awake.  On returning he found the possum sitting up on the perch with the birds.  🙂  The possum did not want to leave.  He had decided that living under shelter with a nice warm bed and grain delivered each evening was a good lark.  The trouble with possums is that although they can seem quite fearless, if they panic they react rather like cat and just go berserk.  They also have long needle sharp claws so one needs to be quite careful handling them.  Kim used a stick to try to push this little fellow out but he clung vigourously to perches, nesting boxes and wire.  Eventually Kim’s persistence paid off and he managed to get him to climb up the door wire and out onto the top of the roof.  While Kim locked him out he scooted up a nearby tree and growled and grumbled loudly at him.  I so wish that I had been well enough to go and take photos of the event!

The piglets seem to be going well.  Mum is eating and eating and eating, no wonder since she is eating for 9.  The other pig is due to have her litter next week we believe.  The cow is, well, being a cow – in the insulting sense of the word.  Izzy is always very nervous and anxious, despite Sam treating her very calmly and gently all the time.  She is a shocker for kicking and if she does not settle down by Spring we may consider getting rid of her and starting again.  It might be better to hand rear a calf instead so that we can have one that is quiet and used to being handled.  The chooks are doing okay.  We ate the Barnevelder rooster who was getting rough with his hens and a few of them have now started laying again.  I am pleased about that as I sincerely hate buying eggs when I have so many chooks.

More piglet pictures

June 19, 2009

Couldn’t resist sharing more piglet photos from the first two days.

Firstly here is one of Caleb holding a piglet.  It gives you an idea of what size they are.


We ended up with 8 piglets in all, 7 girls and 1 boy.


They have been feeding well.


It amazes me how vigorous they are.  At 1 day of age we watched them having a big wrestling match.  At 2 days of age we saw one rooting in the ground.  It was not really eating anything but the instinct was so strong that it just naturally was digging.  At 4 days of age they have been all out and about with mum wandering around the paddock at times.