The Lady of the House was kind enough to get some really lovely photos for our Patreon Patrons so we could get them their special content for the month. Normally I'd be doing that earlier in the month, but it's been busy here. That said, as a side effect of that we have some extra beautiful photos to share. Unsurprisingly they are of turkeys and the remaining chicken, because they are looking great lately. Also I want to talk about trait selection and why breeding has a place in this circumstance.
Last post I discussed briefly keeping both turkeys instead of just one of them. At this point not so long after we've pretty much decided both of them are staying. Why are we going to keep both of the turkeys. Let's start off by talking about normal domestic turkeys, their behaviors, and other features of them.
The first and only focus when breeding most domestic turkeys is feed turning into meat. The feed conversion ratio of your average production turkey is 2:1 at 10 weeks of age. White turkeys are preferred to avoid unsightly blemishes on the skin when plucked. The commercial breeds also are bred for leg and breast meat, as well as high egg production (relative to turkeys). The thing they aren't bred for is survival instincts, and intelligence.
Wild turkeys are a whole different beast, and have a lot of traits that are desirable for homestead situations.
One of the really positive things about wild or heritage breed turkeys is the brains side of things. Smarter turkeys forage better, and survive better. It's not just problem solving, turkey smarts are a different thing. Turkeys are smart about their environment, paying attention, and getting out of danger. Wild turkeys, as a hunter can tell you are one of the most difficult things to hunt because of how good they are at noticing danger, and getting away from it.
Our ideal turkeys would produce a good number of eggs that hatch into chicks with a good survival instinct, and grow relatively quickly. A 10 week turnaround isn't necessary for us since we are happy to have the turkeys on the ground until we want them in the roaster. I'm going to be honest, we have less information about breeding turkeys than we probably should, but we aren't going to be breeding them 'till next spring at the earliest anyhow. Gives us time to learn more about how best to care for poults, and time for me to get better at herding the big dinosaurs. As for the little black hen, who isn't so little anymore except in comparison to her turkey brethren, we hope to have companions for her shortly. We are keeping our eyes out for people getting rid of their chickens as winter approaches.
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