As detailed in a recent post, we've been raising turkeys this year. What I haven't yet shared is that the birds have been a disaster.
Out of the 14 that arrived alive in the shipment, we're now down to three. Yes, three.
Turkeys famously spend their first days and weeks, "sitting around thinking of ways to die," and ours were no exception. I'd come out every morning, and there'd be a few more dead ones. Mostly, though, that was my fault: the first night they were here, I didn't have the heat lamp low enough. They shivered all night, and even those that survived were so weakened that they dropped dead within a few more days (despite my fixing the heat lamp the second morning). Soon, we were down to four survivors.
Those four were looking pretty good. Then, I came out this morning, someone had left the door to the brooder room open. And one of the four turkey poults was...gone. Nowhere to be found. The other three were huddled up, which was uncharacteristic. Not sure what happened; it's possible that the missing one flew out of the brooder (they're feathered now, and capable of it), or if a hungry barn cat jumped in looking for a meal. Either way, looks like I'm going to be putting a mesh cover over the top of the brooder tub tonight.
As these heritage turkeys are an important gift that I offer clients at the end of the year, I can't get by on just three. I've already ordered an additional 20, these from McMurray Hatchery, which is the best in the business. Not taking any chances this time, and not scrimping on price; the window of availability is closing, and I've simply got to have turkeys.
They arrive next week, and hopefully we'll have better success with that batch.
UPDATE: Later in the day, Homeschooled Farm Girl was playing in the barn and heard a chirping sound. She began looking around, and found Turkey #4! We put him back in with the others, and covered the brooder tub with chicken wire. No escapees since.