The time is currently 7:44 am. I’m sat on a train London bound, off to a meeting. I started my day at about 3:45am, overslept and then missed the first train, so I’ve been on the back foot ever since – oops! This is the first time in about eight weeks now that I’ve sat still for more than an hour, and quite honestly it’s killing me.
Being on this train also reminds me how lucky I am that my morning commute is a short walk into my rearing sheds, and can be done in pyjamas or when its a little cooler, a onesie. The amount of time it took to become publicly presentable this morning was quite frightening. Nevertheless, I am on a London bound train, I look cleanish and I finally have time to sit and update you about our past few weeks.
So Tuesday June 27th was turkey delivery day, 133 tiny chicks were collected from the hatchery. This is a slight decrease in numbers from last year, this is due to the fact that we have had a huge demand for geese and we have increased the amount of geese we are rearing this year. In farming terms we are still new to turkeys and geese and still learning and don’t want to grow to fast. The most important things to me is the welfare of our birds and ensuring our end product is of the highest quality.
So what does a day at the barn look like now? I generally get up at about 6am, and the first job of the day is to put the kettle on! Nothing functions in my house without coffee. Once I have caffeine in hand I head up to the turkey shed to do my morning check. I am looking to make sure that all the birds are looking well and are active, and that we haven’t had any die overnight (sadly it happens with birds). I will then clean and refill all their drinkers and feeders.
With regards to drinkers and feeders, I am meticulous at keeping these clean and they are regularly hot washed. This is to prevent bacteria that could make the birds sick. The birds fowl in there feeders and drinkers, so they need to be checked regularly to ensure that there is always fresh water and food available.
In the early days with the turkeys, I would also be checking the temperature to make sure they were comfortable. The British weather has been so up and down this summer the thermostat on the heat lamps has been like a yo yo! Cozy birds are evenly spread in their pen, cold birds are huddled together and hot birds pant. The birds are now off heat, so this is when anxiety levels start to go down as they are becoming stronger and more importantly, weather proof!
Once everything is cleaned and refilled, I put fresh bedding down and leave the turkeys to it. I then head over to the other sheds to let the geese and chickens out. After that I go and referee the kids as to who is having what bowl for breakfast! Apparently it really matters…
During those first few days I will check the birds every couple of hours through the day, this is just to ensure that the temperature is correct, and pick up on any problems. As the weeks pass and they get stronger I will leave the times between checking a little longer.
So what happens next? Once they reach five weeks of age we move them to their new quarters, a really big barn with lots of straw bales to perch on. They will then be allowed out at eight weeks of age to free range and do what turkeys do.
Check back next month where we will be talking about the great turkey release and showing you pictures of their first taste of freedom.