Friday, 27 January 2017

Operation Turkey Swap

Sunday 15th January
I swooped this afternoon and managed to catch onto the leg of one of the turkey stags. It didn't put up too much of a fight until I put it into the dog crate, when it did its very best to squeeze through the bars in the roof and to shake the cage apart!
The reason for all this?

A turkey swap was on the cards today. For five of our turkeys have survived Christmas, including our breeding hen who is now into her third calendar year, quite an achievement for a turkey.
It won't be long before they come into breeding behaviour, clucking and egg-laying for the girls, strutting about and booming for the boys.
As the fox got Terry the Turkey, our fine and friendly stag, last year we needed to bring in some new blood. Fortunately friends of ours also had some survivors of the Christmas period, so a swap had been arranged.

Off went a black turkey... and back came a silver turkey.

I put our new stag into a separate stable to the others, fearing that our one remaining boy might not appreciate a newcomer. It was almost dark by the time we got home and I left the lights off in the stables. I would check what was happening in the morning.

Monday 16th January
The two turkey stags have found each other. They have both crossed one stable wall to meet in the middle, but so far there has only been ostentatious displaying toward each other.

I left the two alone for a while as I went to finish pruning the gooseberries, a prickly task. With this job done I returned to the stables and spent a long time just watching the poultry. They seem to have come to terms with their ensconcement but it is good husbandry to spend time observing their behaviour.
One of the old hens was spending her time huddled in the corner and appeared poorly. Obviously, with bird flu in the country, I wanted to keep an eye on her and observe all her symptons. I went in to have a look and her crop felt enormous. I suspected an impacted crop, something from which our hens have never suffered. But then they are not getting outside, not scratching around, not pecking at the soil.
I mixed a couple of scoops of oyster shell into their food and resolved to just keep an eye on things.

I left the main job for the day until the evening, as it was a job for the kitchen. We were kindly given a dozen pheasants, a couple of pigeons and a few wild duck recently. Sue had skinned the pheasants, but I needed to joint them up before plucking and taking the breasts off the other birds.

Tuesday 17th January 2017
Firstly, the hen seemed a lot better today. She still doesn't look quite right but I am certain it's not bird flu, which is the main thing.
The silver turkey (need to think of a name for him once I get to know him a little more) has hopped another stable and the females have found him and started flirting. There was a little rutting between the stags but nothing too serious. The black stag will have to go soon though. It's just a matter of when we can find the time.

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