Today (Monday 11th September) we collected the little turkey poults from the hatchery in Bargo starting the process for Christmas turkey. Turkey poults are picked up or delivered as day olds. In fact this is the case with all poultry. In the first 24 hours of their life all breeds of poultry and water fowl can survive withour food or water as they are still being nourished by the egg. However they do need to be kept warm and have good air circulation. It is critical however that they receive food and water as soon as possible. Mortality rates can be quite high if food and water are delayed beyond the first 24 hours.
All the preparations for the poults needs to have occurred before their arrival. Ideally you should set up the brooder area 48 hours before the poults arrive. This is particularly important in cooler areas like Braidwood. This gives a chance for the bedding material to warm up and to ensure that the heat source is operating properly. These cute little babies need to be kept warm and cosy. We have a dedicated small shed to be our brooder house. A brooder is a place where young poultry are raised until they have enough feathers keep themselves warm. It should provide protection from predators; protection from moisture; be free from drafts; have good ventilation and most importantly a reliable heat source. In fact all the things that a mother provides for her young. For a heat source we use heat lamps with globes that produce heat but no light.
The feeding schedule becomes the most important aspect of raising turkeys and for that matter all poultry for meat. It starts from the day of their arrival until the day they leave for the abattoir in 16 to 20 weeks time. We mainly feed the turkeys a homemade mash. We don’t rely on prepared pellets. By feeding mash we can individualize, adjust and modify specifically to the animals needs. So just as organic gardening relies on the principle of healthy soils to create health plants likewise to sustain health animals resistant to disease they need to be raised on healthy soils and good food. All animals require healthy gut activity to maintain the balance of parasites and resist disease. By feeding our turkeys a homemade mash we can add mineral and herbal supplements to maintain their health. So just as Kentucky Fried Chicken is cooked with a blend of secret herbs and spices Wynlen House turkeys eat a blend of herbs and minerals.
Of course these aspects also form part of the basic tenets of any practice of animal husbandry. We consider how you raise, feed and care for your animals is vitally important. Our animals are raised with loving care. This does not mean that they are treated as pets but it does mean that we treat them with respect. We care about what they eat, their health, their housing and their environment. They live happy lives and this is very important to us. An animal that lives a happy health life will provide quality food.
Bronwyn Richards has cared for animals and has been growing vegetables successfully all her adult life. She is principle gardener for Wynlen House Farm