Fun facts about Wild Turkeys

Male eastern Wild Turkey

photo by Gary M. Stolz, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  •  Wild Turkeys were hunted to near extinction in the early 1900’s.  Recent numbers now put them around 7 million worldwide.
  • There are 6 subspecies of the Wild Turkey found in North America.  They are the Eastern, Osceola, Rio Grande, Merriam’s, Gould’s, and South Mexican.
  • The Eastern subspecies is the most heavily hunted and most populous at just over 5 million.
  • Wild Turkeys have 5000-6000 feathers.
  • The record-sized adult male wild turkey, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation, weighed 16.85 kg (37.1 lbs.)
  • Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to his daughter in 1784, suggested that the Wild Turkey would be his preference over the Bald Eagle as a symbol of the United States.
  •  Wild Turkeys are omnivores, and prefers acorns, nuts and various trees such as hazel, chestnut, hickory and pinyon pine. They also like seeds, berries, roots and insects.  They occasionally consume amphibians, and lizards and snakes.
  • Hens lay a clutch of 10-14 eggs, usually 1 per day.  They are incubated 28 days, and after hatching, poults leave the nest after 12-24 hours.

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Should I raise chickens?

Should I raise chickens?

Many people are drawn to the idea of raising backyard poultry for fresh eggs and the flavorful meat. Of course there are also other benefits as well, such as manure for fertilizing gardens, keeping down the populations of bugs and other garden pests and they are great companions.
But before you decide to join this fast growing trend, there are several things to consider when raising any poultry.
First , determine your time to dedicate to these animals and how they may impact your life and your family. They do require daily attention and chores. This means daily feeding, watering and yes cleaning up manure. Decide whether you want chickens for egg laying or meat production. If you want egg layers, keep in mind it usually takes 20+ weeks before you will see any eggs. If you want meat production, the best breed would be the Cornish Rock Broilers which take 6-8 weeks from start to finish. If you go with broilers we do recommend a strict feeding schedule of 12 hours on and 12 hours off.
Once you decide which breed of bird you are interested in, you next need to decide how much space you’ll need to accommodate the birds. If you live in a town or city you will also need to check your laws to determine how many you are allowed to have. Most cities have a limit of between 4-10 hens only. You do not need to have a rooster to have egg production. Do you have a coop for them or do you need to build one? A coop protects chickens from predators, and provides shelter from sun, cold and rain. It should have a locking door, a roosting bar and nesting boxes for layers. If you want to try to build your own, I would suggest a couple of items we sell at Welp Hatchery, the Multi-Purpose Mini Barn Plan or Poultry House Shelter Plan. If you’re not the DIY kind, there are numerous places on-line to order coops or check out your local farm supply store.
Before bringing your baby chicks home, you will want to be sure you have waterers, feeders, feed, bedding and a heating lamp. Your chicks need to be handled with care, so having everything set up before you bring them home will help alleviate any stress on the birds. You want to line your coop with woodshavings (not newspaper, it’s too slippery for the chicks), have clean fresh water and food, have the temperature set to 95 degrees for the first week. You drop the temperature 5 degrees every week until there is a constant temperature of 70 degrees or chicks are feathered out. Be sure that the chicks always have fresh water. This is very important as the chicks drink a lot of water.
Lastly, enjoy the chickens. They will provide an entertaining and relaxing atmosphere to your backyard, keep the bugs down, as well as provide you with eggs and or meat.

Contributed by Michelle Coleman

Send us your poultry photos!

As the leaves start to change from green to the yellow, orange and red colors of fall, there is a definite feeling of transition in the air. Although it seems the “busy” season of hatchery life seems to extend each year (and that is a good thing!), fall is a time where we can catch our breath, and maybe enjoy the beauty of the poultry we hatch and/or raise.

For a lot of people who ordered egg layer chicks in the spring, the birds have grown up now into chickens and are probably giving you plenty of fresh eggs. They probably have all of their permanent feathers grown in, and are pecking around the yard to get the last bugs of the season. Or maybe the last vegetables of the garden are being picked, and there is enough to share some with your birds.

We’d love to see some pictures of you and your birds enjoying the fall season. We are asking you to email us some pictures of you and your birds. Please email to bkollasch@welphatcherycom . We’ll try and share some of the these on our blog page, and we are always looking for photos to include in our print catalog. If you send in a photo, we prefer a digital image, and also include the name of the people (and the poultry, if they are named) in the photo.

We look forward to seeing some great photos!

Things to consider if your hens aren’t laying well.

Are you having difficulty with your hens laying eggs? Are they not producing to their standard? You may want to check on some of these factors that may be the cause of this.

Is there enough lighting? Your hens will need at least 15 hours of daylight. This is easier to do when there is more natural light during the late spring to early fall. However, if you would like to keep your production of eggs going, provide some additional lighting. To try and give them as much light as possible it’s recommended to use no less than a 75 watt light bulb.

What are you feeding them? It is recommended to have a quality layer feed which will have the right portions of everything they need to produce eggs. Some table scraps are ok for your birds, but should be given to them in moderation so it does not upset the balance of the feed.

Are your hens stressed out? Are there predators? This is caused by different things. One would be to make sure they are not being frightened. This could be from predators trying to get in the pen with them, or a snake that made its way into the pen. Other reasons for stressed out chickens would be handling them too much, moving them to a different pen, letting them run out of food or water, or even disrupting the pecking order by bringing in new birds.

Do they have enough water? They should always have plenty of clean water to drink, and during the winter months it is important to not let their water freeze.

What is the temperature like? Hens usually lay best when it is not too hot or too cold. During the summer it is necessary to provide cool water, and shade. During the winter it is recommended to try and keep their pen at above 55-60 degrees.

Are they molting? The molting process happens about once a year. This usually causes a production decrease or a halt to the eggs. Molting can last anywhere from 4 – 16 weeks. Chickens will lose feathers in a sequence starting with the head and neck and then down the back, across the breast and thighs and finally their tail feathers. The new feathers that emerge are called pinfeathers and will grow in following the same sequence they were lost.

How old are your hens? It is typical for your hens to have their best production in the first and second year after they hatch. After three years old their production will start slowly decreasing. It is estimated that at about five years of age they will only be producing half as frequently as they did the first two years.

Contributed by Cory Johnson