Turkey Blog Post 3 – The Turkeys are taken to the Polytunnels
It’s hard to believe but our turkeys are already 10 weeks old and looking very fit and healthy. It has been a busy time of the farm over the last weeks and the weather has meant a lot of things have started early. We would usually be harvesting in August but due to the drought and very hot weather, it was all done in July which is unheard of.
When the turkeys were 5 weeks old our turkeys they were moved outside to their polytunnels amongst the cherry trees and foliage. That means the turkeys get day time entertainment from the footpath that runs directly through the farm. They are naturally curious, they love seeing and hearing people walk by and if you have time, stop and chat, as they will definitely have something to say back.
When we move the turkeys it’s a very slow process as we want to ensure their safety. Turkeys have a natural instinct to crowd into each other when they become scared. A loud noise or even a bigger bird flying close by overhead could scare them. So we make sure all the husbandry team are around to careful warden the birds up to the pens.
Turkey Fact 4 – did you know we bed up our polytunnels with straw every other day by hand. This gives our husbandry team the chance to check the flock and make sure the birds are in top health.
For the first week, we kept the poults inside the polytunnels, as before they are released, they still need to acclimatise to their new surroundings. And some of the poults may have a little longer in the tunnels if they’re not quite ready to be released. Then once Steve and the team are happy and the birds are strong enough, all the birds will be allowed to roam the fields. They will continue to bed the tunnels up every other night as the birds do like to come in to roost. Turkeys are also not big fans of a hot sunny day so often retreat into the shade when it gets too hot. They also quite like a dust bath when it gets really hot and humid.
Turkey Blog Post 2 – The Rings are let off
Now they say a picture says a thousand words but I think this one might say even more …
It’s now 2 weeks since the poults arrived and they pens have been let off. It takes a few days before they feel comfortable to venture into the whole barn but soon they are confidently roaming around. Slowly we expose them to more light and air so we can promote their feather growth. As the poults will be going outside in just a few weeks, we need to ensure they are ready to cope with the elements. Steve will always look at the birds and see when he thinks they’re ready to move as it can vary a little each year. Being a small producer, we have the flexibility to move when the birds are ready.
Turkey Fact 3 – did you know we use over 11 different breeds on our farm? Each bird is grown to full maturity and we use no growth promotors in our production. On commercial farms, birds are killed when they reach the right weight. These different breeds are also to key as they give the perfect bone to meat ratio
Over the next few weeks Steve will slowly introduce Kes into the barns. Turkeys can be very flighty, so Steve reduces the chances of them becoming scared by making this a very gradual process. Kes becomes extremely important once the birds are completely free range as she can do the work of 5 people in minutes. It will be a couple of weeks now before put the birds out in the ranges so we will have lots more exciting turkey tales and facts to tell you then.
It’s been a hard start to the year for all, with the Beast from the East one, two and even three depending who you speak to, and it felt like cold weather would never relent. But then finally summer arrived briefly in spring to put a smile on everyone’s face, but now, we have the best news of all. Our wonderful turkey poults are here! That’s right folks, it’s time for those long nights to begin for our husbandry team.
Turkey Fact 1 - Did you know, we give the poults 24 hour care in the first few weeks of their life as they find it very hard to acclimatise once they’re hatched?
But before I tell you all about the arrival of the turkeys, let me tell you what’s been happening here at Kings Coppice Farm. We started the year with a number of projects to keep us busy. Although we’d love to be able to grow our turkeys all year round, there are some big benefits to not doing so. For instance, at the beginning of each year, we are able to muck out all our polytunnels and sterilise all our sheds. Now this doesn’t sound exciting but it means we reduce the chance of disease and can allow our land to rest before we use it again. Instead of using lots chemicals, we actually use the frosts which happen during the year to disinfect the site.
It also gives us the opportunity to plant further cover for the turkeys and trim all the cherry trees, which, would be a much bigger job with all those inquisitive turkeys around. It’s also great time for us to sit down and see what improvements we can make for the coming year as we are always focusing on how we can improve the welfare of our turkeys. If you didn’t spot it last year, we had some musical instruments in their pen last year. As they are naturally inquisitive, they loved making noise and keeping themselves entertained, who wouldn’t.
We do have other friends on our farm who we of course don’t forget about. Many of you will have already seen our fox wardens or more commonly known as alpacas and last year they did an outstanding job keeping the foxes at bay. And they continue to guard the pens even when the turkeys aren’t here. They looking rather smart at the moment since we gave them a much needed haircut ready for the summer. As you can imagine, it can get pretty warm under those wool jacket. Lucky we have all those cherry trees!
Do you remember Patch, our Turkey Puppy if you haven’t seen her, she has been working hard to make friends with Kes (our Turkey Dog) but she has a long way to go. It’s very much a Fly and Babe situation. If you haven’t watched Babe, it’s a great one for the family this Christmas.
Now, where were we? That’s right, the exciting news, the poults are here. Farmer Manager Steve has worked with us for nearly 21 years and during that time he has worked to improve how the birds are cared for. It starts with preparing their bed and giving them an extra thick layer of shavings that wouldn’t even give Princess Pea something to complain about. His team then makes sure they have constant access to food and water and if they need it, show them how to reach it. Yes all of the poults if they need it and that’s a lot of chirping mouths! They are kept around heat lamps is small groups and slowly but surely they will acclimatise to their surroundings. Caffeine is in high demand during the first couple of weeks.
Turkey Fact 2 – Did you know there are only 2 hatcheries in the UK that produce Traditional British Turkeys? And in the 1970’s there used to be 11. Now most farms use commercial breeds and there are very few people doing things the traditional way now.
We hope you enjoyed learning a little but more about our turkeys and will come back to hear what happens next.