November 1, 2010

heads down

"The turkeys are out!"

... is a commonly heard phrase around here these days.

Oh, these turkeys. At 13 weeks, this batch of birds has proven to be quite a challenge for us. This is our third year raising them but being that we're at a new location and everything about our set up is different, it's almost all new to us. By last week they had finally gone through all of the grass and we were able to move them out of their 'day ranging' setup in the greenhouse into the modified shelter that Nate built last year. We needed a way to comfortably house them while giving them access to more fresh grass on another corner of the farm.

It would seem that these birds are taking advantage of their new freedom by escaping. . .often. Some factors in this common occurrence are:

a) they are too dumb to realize that if they mob the fence, they can push it right over and just walk over it. They get so excited when they see a person walking by or on the tractor, they just run towards them and forget there's a fence.

b) they are way smarter than we give them credit for and are learning this by watching us walk over the fence on a daily basis.

c) the electric fence charger is not working.

Most of the time it's :

d) all of the above.

Good thing they LOVE pea greens and good thing that happens to be one of our cover crops and we have a ton of it. I have used pea greens to get all of the turkeys back into the fence after an escape. They love them that much.

Anyway, here's their big move in pictures. . .

So much grass, they can hardly believe their little turkey eyes.

Notice their head position in the last 2 photos. Pasture-based farmers, often refer to themselves as grass farmers. Our whole entire animal operation revolves around grass. Grass feeds the animals, makes them healthier and makes their meat so much healthier. Their manure fertilizes and stimulates the grass to grow back thicker, greener and healthier. And so the cycle repeats itself.

We often use the 'heads up' or 'heads down' theory to determine when to move them. If they're contentedly grazing with their heads down, they're all good. If they're just wandering around with their heads up, they're bored and it's time to move to fresh grass. We surely don't want boredom, cause that's when the mischief starts. Right now, we're moving the shelter and fencing every other day.

That move was only a week ago and already they're outgrowing their space in the shelter. Tonight we moved a few out into separate smaller pens so they can all fit comfortably inside to sleep at night.

Rock on turkeys. Couple more weeks to go. . .

1 comment:

  1. I love this post and the whole heads up and heads down theory! They are really darn cute too!