Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Turkey Trials and Tribulations... OR Turkey Math

I wouldn't say I'm out of my element.  I've raised turkeys before.  But, I've never had breeder turkeys who are hatching and raising their own babies.  This part is entirely new to me.

When we received this generous gift of birds, there was 1 mom with 3 babes, 1 mom with 12 babes, another mom with 4 babes and then an orphaned babe called Sydney.  The mom with 4 babes ("Alexa") was traumatized during the 5 hour hot road trip and we were worried that she would abandon her little ones, so we put them in a brooder with little Sydney.  We also decided that the runty one of the 12 babes would do better in the brooder too.  So that made 3+11 poults outside with moms and 6 in the brooder.  The other night there was some commotion outside, we heard Big Wally go off a few times, and then nothing.  Upon waking and doing the ritual head-count, we discovered that mom with 3 babes ("Milly") was down to 2 and there was a raven circling.  (Why can't these birds just focus on eating dead things instead of baby things??)

Friday we came home after a few hours at the beach with some friends, and "Violet" (mom with 11 babes)   could only account for 8.  Sigh.  Then Saturday we came home and we could only find 7 of those babes and they were scattered all over the place, some even as far as the neighbor's yard.  After rounding these little ones up not once, not twice, but FOUR times this afternoon, we decided that this momma turkey can't handle the responsibility of raising so many, even with Auntie Alexa's help.  So the kids started rounded them up.  We thought that perhaps she could manage 2, so we left her with 2 and put the other 5 in the brooder.  Um. Ok, letsee, that's 11 in the brooder now, and 4 outside.  Ooops, wait a minute!  There's another one!  But this one was soaking wet, like it had fallen in the pond.  We warmed it with a hairdryer and then carried it around under our shirts for an hour or so, then put it into the brooder.  12 in the brooder, 4 outside.

Coming back to check on everyone that night, one of the little ones in the brooder (I can only assume that it was the chilled poult from this afternoon) didn't look so great.  So brought it in the house and tried to warm it, but alas.  Too late.  The sweet little creature died in my hands.  *Heavy Sigh.*  At least it wasn't alone.  In hindsight, we should have carried it around under our shirts for the rest of the day.  Turkey math: 11 in the brooder and 4 outside.

Sunday morning, my son came in to announce there was another dead one in the brooder.  Whew.  Removed it, said a few apologies to the little creature and buried it in the compost pile.  A few hours later, we check again, and 3 MORE had passed.  Gosh!  What the hell was going on???  I lowered the heat lamp, checked temperatures, changed their food, added ACV to their water (was only adding it sporadically before) and crossed my fingers.  Updated turkey math: 7 in the brooder, still 4 outside.  I can only assume now that the one we warmed actually survived and the ones we rounded up were the ones we lost.  Maybe they got too stressed being separated from their mom several times that one day, then permanently.  Maybe they got chilled in that time. I'll never know.

It's now Tuesday night and since that last catastrophe, we haven't lost any others.  Turkey math at 4 outside and 7 in the brooder still stands.

Will post more pics soon.

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