Chickens and Turkeys: What we’ve learned in the past two years.

Aloha!

As former tract home suburbanites, this has been our first experience with caring for chickens and turkeys.  Here we share some of what we have learned.

 

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Chickens and turkeys are fun animals to be around and especially children love them.    Each chicken has a unique personality and you can really learn a lot about human nature by thoughtfully observing chicken nature – how they live and interact with each other.    They are good workers, too – they help clear out the weeds by eating every plant sprout as fast as it grows!  Over time there were less and less new weeds sprouting up, and today, with their help, and our efforts at removing weed seeds, we have few weeds left.   Chickens are definitely gifted at eliminating weeds or grass & bugs wherever they can.  Because of that, you will want to keep them out of areas where you are growing your favorite seedlings.  For ideas for fences and coops – see this site for a suggestion of a simple fencing system which you can adapt to material you may have on hand and below we show you our simple coops, which you can also use for ideas for how to contain chickens.  We ended up losing all 7 of our chickens to predators, so figure out a way to keep the chickens safe before you get them!  Anyway we did get better, as you will see.

 

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Check out these eggs with two yolks – the chickens laid a lot of eggs – yum!

 

 

Turkeys will follow you in the same way dogs do.
These are our turkeys, Sisters Rosie and Daisy – we picked them up from the feed store in September 2013, so they are around 2 years old in this picture.  In two years, they’ve grown smarter, more devoted to us and we’ve pampered them like you would any pets.  We all take walks together in the evenings.  They love people very much, and especially parties!  Once they meet someone new, they bow and lay down for the person to pet them.  They will follow you around the farm in the same way dogs do. They will  bark  at noises they don’t trust, to protect you and their territory, in the same way dogs do.  They love to sit on Papa’s lap.    These two have survived the longest of our birds, and they seem to enjoy life here.  They like to eat greens  and bugs from the garden, and we give them feed store-bought feed too.   They lay delicious eggs for us, and we are definitely thankful that we all share this space together.

 

 

 

They started out as newborns in a greenhouse:

Young Turkeys and Chickens in Greenhouse
They lived in our greenhouse initially, along with two buff orpington chickens.

 

They stayed in the greenhouse constantly for a few weeks. Here's their food and water station. The floor was covered in pine shavings.
They stayed in the greenhouse constantly for a few weeks – later we would let them out for small periods of time under our supervision, and put them back in the greenhouse the rest of the time. Here’s their food and water station. The floor was covered in pine shavings.

 

Black Turkeys and Buff Orpingtons
We built them a bed from plastic shelving and pressed wood for walls and they were warm and cozy inside there.

 

The plastic shelving with particle board screwed onto it made a cozy home
Here’s a look at how the bed looked from the outside.

 

Chicken coop built next to outdoor shower
While they were growing bigger, we built a rain-proof shelter next to the outdoor shower, which they later moved into, and where they still live.

 

The eggs are a huge benefit of having turkeys.

Turkey eggs taste like chicken eggs, but they're bigger and have thicker shells.
Turkey eggs taste like chicken eggs, but they’re bigger and have thicker shells.  The eggs are a favorite part of our diets.

 

 

Other nice things about turkeys as pets:

Since they stay in a cage overnight, they can’t wake you up in the morning – usually they just wait quietly until we come out to feed them and let them roam.

You don’t have to clean up the waste they leave in the garden, because it becomes plant nutrients.

You don’t have to take them out for a walk.

They don’t come in the house and make messes like other pets might do.

They can communicate a lot of different things using different vocalizations such as:

-When a drone flies overhead, they look up at it and make a moaning worried sound.  Maybe they can see ghosts too – because they look up and warn us about something when we can see nothing.

-When a stranger comes around, they bark at them, just as a dog would do.  Then when we introduce them to the visitor, they soon lay down and hope to be petted.

-When they find something wonderful to eat they call to each other with a short whistle, as if to say “Look what I found!”

-They prefer to eat food that we grow here at Aloha Farms over anything we purchase.  Sometimes we’ve offered them store-bought lettuce, and they don’t like it.  They want the good stuff, fresh picked and home-grown.  That says a lot about the quality of the food we grow!

 

Things about turkeys that aren’t as great:

You do have to clean out the waste from inside the cage daily to minimize its attraction to flies.

They like to come up onto our patio and look in the window to the house, which is fine, but they also leave droppings on the patio (not so fine), which have to be blown off.

 

 

 

 


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