Planning ahead for christmas dinner (In June!)

freerange turkey poultEven though we are entering the height of summer and the sun is (occasionally) blazing, we’re already thinking about Xmas Turkeys at Hall Farm!

The turkeys we rear for Christmas arrived on Hall farm as day old “poults” (turkey chicks) in Mid-June – around week 24 in the working farmer’s yearbook.

We recently took delivery of our new stock – a large batch of Kellybronze Turkeys and a hundred Norfolk Blacks about a week later.

What preparations have we been making for the young turkeys

Much of the prep is all about sorting out the sheds, ready for the young turkey’s arrival.

Before they are released out into our fields we carefully put the poults in small ringed pens in a special brooding shed, under heat lamps.

We have to make sure the area is clean so is a shed is washed and disinfected from roof to floor before their arrival. We also flush through our water feeder lines to make sure there is no bacterial build up as the young baby chicks can be quite susceptible to infections.

We put chopped straw and wood shavings down to create a deep bedding matter on the ground, to keep the birds warm. Then we have several small circular wooden pens that we put the poults in to keep them contained under the heat lamps during their first weeks.

What happens when the new poults arrive on Hall Farm?

freerange-turkeys-brooding
Our day old poults in their brooding shed.

On the arrival we transfer the new poults out of the van into the shed as quickly as possible so the baby chicks don’t get chilled.

Once inside, we check the chicks are in good conditions before separating them out into the rings, counting them out, to make sure we have the right numbers per ring.

We don’t want any overcrowding!

Drinkers are put out, so they can have water for the first couple of hours – then we put food out. After that it’s a constant routine of keeping an eye on them every 4-5 hours, making sure the drinker’s are clean and their feeders are full of food.

Rearing the turkeys to maturity

The poults are kept in the brooding shed till they are about 7 weeks old.

The poults are fed a starter crumb that looks like a broken up biscuit crumbs to begin with, followed by a starter pellet.

The shed is actually mobile, so if the weather is good (like it has been of late) we can let them out at 6 weeks old.

We normally move them to a rearing shed when they are about 8 weeks old, by which time they are nicely feathered up, a good size and ready for the next stage.

We rear them for the next 18 weeks, feeding till they reach full body weight and maturity by December.

The turkeys are given specialised bird feeder crumbs and pellets, that we use at different stages across the bird’s rearing and we alter the rations depending on what size they are and how they doing in general.

When they reach the rearing shed we feed them a rearer pellet, then the grower pellet and finally a finisher pellet right at the end.

So the poults get a well-balance feeding program whilst they grow to maturity.

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