The postcard from the hatchery came a few weeks ago telling me that my turkey order had been received and the poults would arrive either June 10th or 11th so it came as no surprise when the telephone rang at 6:11 am this morning and our local postmistress was on the line. They always call when live birds arrive and give me the option of driving over to pick them up or sending them along with the carrier. My postman is a really nice guy and I wouldn't want to subject him to the incessant peeping during his route until he got to the farm so I scooted on over to the Newburg Post Office to pick up my package.
All 50 poults arrived in excellent condition. The hatchery threw in a few extra to compensate for any attrition during travel. Since young birds can survive on their yolk sac for up to three days, they ship through the US Mail quite well. I also only buy birds from a local hatchery so they are in transit less than 24 hours.
Upon arrival, each poult (the name for a baby turkey) gets its beak dipped in water and is put into the brooder set up inside the barn. Ralph made it years ago when we used to hatch our own chickens. It was made with chicken wire, however, we found out the hard way last year that poults will happily stick their heads through the holes for the cats to chew off. This is the modified Fort Knox design complete with harware cloth on two side and a pair of recycled shower doors (which prevent drafts) on the other two sides. The top is a combination of the screen door off the old chicken coop and a set of repurposed folding closet doors salvaged out of the neighbor's bone pile. The folding doors make for easy entry for feeding & watering. When the poults arrive, two things are guaranteed--we'll be in the midst of our first summer heat wave complete with obscenely high humidity and we'll have a banger of a thunderstorm. While the heat isn't that hard on the poults since they require brooding temperatures higher than chicks, the strong storms have, in the past, led to an initial loss of poult due to power outages and pens being blown over. We've been raising turkeys nearly ten years and we've been through it all. Hopefully, we've got the system down to where neither weather not predators will take a serious toll on the poult population leaving more tasty turkeys for our customers this fall.
The Pests Patrol
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