Poults – Raising Turkeys on the Homestead
Poults – Raising Turkeys
After a somewhat annoying cat ‘n mouse game with the feed store on Thursday and Friday, we brought home eight broad breasted bronze poults. One died on Sunday. It was a failure to thrive situation; didn’t eat or drink much at all and peeped constantly from the start. TIP: Ask to see each bird you buy before its put into the carrying box. If it’s smaller than the rest, refuse the bird.
Poults, Ava’s current obsession. She was thrilled when she heard the peeping last night. I don’t know how many times I told her to get her head out of the box. She either wants them on the floor so she can take care of them or all together in the box. Having them scattered drivers her nuts. Together. All of them. Now. She nudges them around with her nose and picks up the slow learners to move them to their “right” place. “Ava, leave them alone.” “Ava, stop pushing the box,” (she’ll push it to me so I can let her little
prisoners poults out). “Ava, put it down.” She loves baby anythings, especially if they peep.
How I Raise Poults
I don’t like to raise poults, chicks, ducklings or anything else. I believe in letting mothers do their job but in some cases, like these poults, there isn’t a mother. I have the poults in a pen inside a chicken tractor. I moved Sweetie and the Sweetsketeers into the tractor this morning, and then parked the poults right beside the pen. I want Sweetie to hear the peeping and yearn to adopt them. Or at least accept them. I’m not that fussy and it doesn’t have to be love. Just please, Sweetie, raise them so I don’t have to.
Ava “helped.” She tipped the box over to let them out but she tipped it in the wrong direction. Then she pointed to the cage with her nose, then pointed at the poults, them the cage, then the poults. “You little baby turkeys, go into that cage.” If she could talk that’s exactly what she’d say. I’d like to tell you that I patiently waited for the poults to make their way onto the grass, one by one, letting them take their time and get comfortable in their first experience on the ground. I wasn’t. After snapping two photos I tipped them out and unceremoniously closed the door.
Sweetie couldn’t care less about the peeping. Her chicks are 12 days old and they’re bonded. The poults are outsiders. Outsiders…right…they were outside the tractor. I moved their cage into the tractor so they’re at least closer, and I hope she’ll warm up to them.
Keeping Poults Warm
The poults were three days old when we picked them up so the only feathers they have are on their wing tips. They can’t keep themselves warm. I don’t like heat lamps in a box of young birds, a barn or a hen house. They cause fires, animals suffer and barns are lost. I put a throw rug or towel on the floor, a heat mat used to start seedlings on top of that, then the cardboard box on the heat mat. When they go outside they’re out in the sun after the grass dries.
They have a dish of food and a waterer. That’s all they need. Food, water, warmth. Keep this simple. I have them for the next 21-22 weeks and don’t have time to make them complicated or time consuming.
What Do Poults Eat?
When the poults are in for the night they get a little bit of commercial food. It’s a high protein crumble that supports their fast growth. Outside, they eat grass and other plants, weed seeds and insects.
Ava and I realized putting the cage in the tractor was a better idea. “Ava, get out.” She came out, turned a circle and went back in because this is her current obsession.
Tonight the poults will be in the house on a heating pad and Sweetie and the Sweetsketeers will be locked in the carrier with a bed of straw, and closed inside the tractor or hen house to keep them safe. I’m always relieved when the chicks can join the flock inside the hen house. So that’s how I raise poults on their first day on the homestead.