Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Want some turkeys? Collect them tomorrow!

We hadn't thought about keeping turkeys, perhaps because you never see it for sale in the local shops. We knew we wanted chickens, ducks and geese. We had spent time researching the needs of these animals and were well on the way with the chickens, having 6 already and just having bought a cockerel. But turkeys! As far as we were concerned they are one of the ugliest birds you could have. You never see turkey eggs for sale so all they are good for it meat and we don't really like turkey that much. How things can change...

In May 2012 our friend Antonio came to visit and have his regular cuppa with us of a morning. He was telling us that one of his friends had given him 2 turkeys, a male and a female. He said that he already had a female and she had reared 6 chicks so he didn't want them. So he asked if we would like them. He explained that the females are very hard to find to buy here so we could just have the female if we wanted. He also dropped into the conversation that he was going to kill them if we didn't want them! We ummed and arghed for about 30 minutes and then agreed to having them. His next statement was 'fetch them tomorrow'.

The next day Kev walked over the bridge to Antonio's house and was shocked at firstly the size of the 2 birds and then the state of them. Antonio caught the 2 birds, tied their feet together, put them in a wheel barrow and covered them with a sheet. Kev was a bit stressed about this treatment but we were getting very used to the campo treatment of animals for food. Kev left as soon as he could to get the birds home and set free.

All we had to house them in was the old goat shed that Kev had built.
 
We thought that this would have to do until we could build them their own house and fence off some of the land for them.
 

This is Paxo our Tom as he was when he arrived. He was so fat he could hardly walk and he had no feathers on his chest at all. His feet were covered in callouses, to say he was in a bad way would be a bit of an understatement.
 
In the goat shed we put a high platform for the hen and a much lower one for Paxo as he couldn't get up on anything too high.
 

Our hen Cranberry sitting on her platform.
 
In the beginning they were very wary of us. We put into place a regular feeding routine and encouraged them to leave the goat shed and free range on the land. It was sad to see...they didn't know how to forage at all for food. They just used to sit by the gate waiting for us to go and give them their food.
 
Kev built them a new house and fenced of a run for them. This was to give them some respite from the chickens that seemed to pinch all the food from them. The last feed of the day was and still is in this pen with all the chickens shut out.
 
 
This is only half of the run
 
Another reason to build them a pen was to ensure that Cranberry had somewhere quiet to sit on eggs as and when...or if she laid eggs.
 
Within 6 months Paxo was totally slimmed down, with full plumage and his feet were much better too. He could fly over the  fence and they both roost on top of the house rather than inside it.
 
This is Paxo now...oh my how he has changed!
 
They are both very happy with their lives. They have started to forage, Paxo can now run too. Cranberry has started to lay eggs this month so very soon we should have babies all being well.
 
In the beginning I told you what we thought about turkeys. Well that has all changed. Paxo is a gentle giant. He is very protective of his hen but is very friendly with us, which is just as well because he could do us some real damage if he turned. It is a pleasure to see how they have changed, becoming confident and happy in their surroundings. A far cry from how they were kept before we got them.