Bringing Home Turkey Poults

turkey poults

Bringing Home Turkey Poults

I ordered 8 Broad Breasted turkey poults this spring and went to pick them up from the farmer in Wisconsin this week. Although I only ordered 8, I came home with 10. Chicken people, you all know how this happens. Am I right?!

For more information, read my post ‘How to Raise Turkeys.’

The drive takes about 40 minutes one way, but the scenery is quite beautiful. I saw a pinto mare grazing peacefully next to her spotted foal, tulips nodding in the breeze, limestone farmhouses, fields of sprouting corn, and blossoming apple, pear, redbud, and wild plum trees.

turkey poults

Arriving At The Farm

I pulled into the driveway at Dale’s farm. It looks like an old dairy farm, but there aren’t any cattle. Many of the small dairy farms in our country have been eaten up by big agriculture and low milk prices.

Dale orders turkey poults by the hundreds from a hatchery in Wisconsin and he drives there to pick them up. He orders in bulk twice each spring and people come to get their poults…sort of a turkey co-op.

There were two boxes of peeping puffballs in his back room, one filled with white and one with bronze. He always has a few extra, and that is how I usually end up with a couple more than I think I need.

turkey poults

Game Bird Feed

Dale also orders game bird feed by the pallet and I paid for my poults and one bag of the high protein feed. I get a much better price this way and the broad breasted poults do much better with the 28% to 30% protein feed than they would on the meat producer feed (24% protein). They need the extra protein for strong bones to carry their weight as they grow.

Bringing Turkey Poults Home

Although the poults were huddled together for warmth on the drive home (I had the heater on for them and was getting hot!) they were fine. I had their brooder box ready for them with a heat lamp to warm them.

The first thing I did was mix up a quart of water with probiotics and electrolytes to fill their water container. To be sure that they learned to drink on their own, I dipped the tip of their beaks into the water and watched to see them swallow some. Each poult was introduced to water as I pulled them out of their box and I watched to be sure that they went back to the water on their own. Then I filled the feed container with game bird feed and tapped on the feeder to get their attention. Soon they were pecking at the food and drinking on their own.

Narragansett tom turkey with his tail fanned out.
Narragansett tom turkey raised on our homestead.

Raising Broad Breasted Turkeys This Year

I used to raise heritage breeds of turkey and I enjoyed keeping them. It was fun to hatch the poults in an incubator each spring. However, I found that feeding the breeding stock over the winter was rather costly, since we don’t have the room to grow our own feed. In addition, some male turkeys can be aggressive with the other birds in the flock. On a 1 acre homestead like ours, you have to make tough decisions about how many animals you can keep. So the heritage turkeys either went to new farms or I processed them. Read more in this post about the differences in raising heritage versus broad breasted turkeys.

Raising Turkeys Humanely

Raising the broad breasted turkeys provides a lot of meat from humanely treated birds without spending a lot of money. It typically costs a few cents more per pound than the frozen pre-Thanksgiving sale turkeys, but I know that these turkeys will have a much better life than any bird that comes from the store. By processing them myself, I also know that the end of their life is as humane as possible. You may want to read my post ‘How to Butcher a Turkey,’ if you plan to process your own.

And, to me, that peace of mind is worth the effort and investment.

Do you raise your own turkeys for meat, or are you planning to? Leave a comment!


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