This morning we dropped off four of our largest heritage turkeys to the processors as sort of a trial run for when Thanksgiving rolls around. That made me realize that I had never shared all these pictures of our commercial Broad Breasted White turkeys on pasture.
At the moment all our normal pens are full, so the broad breasted white turkeys had to take over our two rabbit tractors. Just like we do with all of our free range birds, we trained them to go into their pens at night by putting a fence around the opening for the first few weeks and feeding them only in their pens.
I will never cease to be amazed at how different the commercial breeds are to their heritage counterparts. Where our Bourbon Reds are friendly and curious, these turkeys are pushy and constantly trying to be as close to us as possible. They are always on the lookout for food and will throw themselves at the sides of they pen if we walk by.
It really is a wonder they have any feathers at all on their chests with the way they press themselves against the fencing.
It's a bit like raising a horde of white feathered zombies. We have a strict policy here on the farm to never, ever feed the birds from our hands, otherwise I'm sure I would have no fingers left from their pecking. As it is, you really, really do not want to stick a finger into this pen. It will get bitten by a turkey beak which hurts more than you would think!
This is what it looks like every time we try to walk in the first pasture. Just a horde of butterballs rushing at your feet (along with the couple bourbon red and few guineas that ended up in the mix).
Thank heavens the dogs have learned to get the turkeys off us. Luna had this job last year, and this year young Rialey takes great pleasure in making sure not a single turkey is within 10 feet of us. All I have to do is yell, "Help! Get 'um off me!" and she's there in a flash weaving her way between the turkeys and my feet. She'll run back and forth and push those feathered beasts until they give up and leave us in peace. Without the dogs, I really don't know how we would get anything done!
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