Sunday, May 17, 2009

Five Weeks Old

New Meat Locker

That sounds really crass! I predator-proofed the middle section of my barn this past week and moved 45 chickens and 7 turkeys in, (all of them about five weeks old). They were a little overwhelmed with all of the space at first, but are now happily nosing around in all of the new corners.

The white birds in the photo below are the cornish X breed. These guys are twice as large as the red broilers I am experimenting with. I have heard that the red broilers are tastier, even though they don't grow as quickly as the cornish chicks. I bought the red broilers from Ideal Poultry, and they are growing well. I am going to try to give them a little outside time and see how they like that. Last fall, I butchered out some extra, (annoying) six month old roosters, and they were as tough as shoe leather. I think the free-ranging gave them a little too much body-building time.

In the photo below, you can see three white turkeys and a bronze at the far right. They are very curious and like to follow me around. I am glad I found a butcher, because I am not enjoying the "processing" part of raising chickens.
The two very dark chickens in the photo are barnevelder hens. They will lay very dark brown eggs, beginning sometime in late August.
This turkey hung around Ruth while she snapped photos.

Don't look closely at the chicken wire! I discovered that I am really bad at getting it straight. After I made that discovery, I started to not care too! So, the coop is secure, but certainly not a mona lisa. (This is a short-term coop anyway!) There, that makes me feel better.

To make the coop look even better, I only had four foot chicken wire, and overlapped it. Then I ran out of chicken wire altogether and didn't feel like buying more, so I cut a section of hardware cloth to fill in the last little opening. I connected them with nylon zip ties. Wow! I'm thinking "coop of the year!"

Poopy eggs
The nice man who gave me the blue slate turkey eggs pictured below reminded me that washing them would be bad for the developing embryos, so I didn't. Aren't they just lovely? That is a nice mixture of mud and poo. I hope THAT isn't bad for the developing embryos too!!
Hatch day is Wednesday, May 20!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Turkeys are a "New World" creature. All of the domesticated turkeys were developed from the original wild North American strain. I find it interesting that most of the domestic turkeys were developed in Europe or Asia and then introduced back to North America as imports. In my research about turkeys, I read that most of the domesticated turkeys are unable to breed on their own. I then saw a "Dirty Jobs" TV episode that showed Mike Rowe artificially inseminating white giant turkeys.

So, imagine my surprise when I found a Craig's List posting with Blue Slate turkey eggs for sale. I contacted the owner and he ended up giving them to me as I am using them with my students. I now have seven turkey chicks in the coop, and 16 Blue Slate Turkey eggs in the incubator. Hatch date is May 20.

If I get a decent hatch rate from these turkey eggs, I will have more turkeys than I planned on having! They will probably not have too much difficulty in finding a Thanksgiving dinner invitation.

I candled several of the eggs last night and they looked like they were doing ok. So, I guess there are some domesticated turkeys that can still do the hokey pokey.