Spring Babies!

May 7th, 2011 by Kim

Look who's new on the farm! A curious turkey poult.

Spring has brought many babies with it here on the farm.  So although my human kids are great, I thought for Mother’s Day, I’d show off some of my other new babies.  We decided to add turkeys to our menagerie this year, so along with our “normal” calves & chicks, we now have this interesting new addition.

Hershey is looking quite the fine young man these days.

I am, of course, delighted with this year’s calves so far.  Hershey is growing into an extremely nice-looking bull calf, and is starting to get his grown-up colors shining through his coat.  It’s amazing how fast they grow…he looks huge compared to the newborn Dexter calves, even though he started out close to the same size as they are.  He is friendly & mannerly, and doing well with his halter training….such a nice boy!

Mignon & Ebony having a good time butting heads.

Kiera’s heifer, Ebony, is a darling & I’m tickled to death with her!  She’s friendly & spunky, and looks like she’ll grow to be a good, stocky girl.  Eavie’s bull calf has been dubbed Mignon….a good French name, just like his Daddy, Rousseau.  He also is quite sweet, however, he seems to have his Momma’s more refined, dairy-type build, which is not really what I want to see in a Dexter bull.

The oldest chicks in their tractor....almost completely feathered out now.

We have two broods of chicks so far this year.  The first we hatched in the incubator at the end of March.  They are outside in a chicken tractor that gets moved to fresh grass daily, growing like weeds & doing great.  I can now pretty much tell the boys from the girls & will soon be able to decide which girls I want to keep and add to the laying flock. 

Momma & babies "upstairs" in the coop. The arched door on left leads to the nest boxes, hole in floor on right opens onto the ramp.

The second batch arrived from the hatchery the end of April.  I had a broody hen that I let set on some eggs (supposedly fertile duds…I see a soup pot in that rooster’s future), timed to hatch when the hatchery chicks arrived.  One of our eggs hatched, and then I started replacing her eggs with chicks until she was sitting on 28 little fur balls. 

"Downstairs" of the broody pen has water, food, grass & plenty of space to play.

She adopted them all nicely & is now being a great momma hen, raising them in my wonderful new broody pen.  It’s an oversized, A-frame style chicken tractor/coop that we designed & built for the breeding & brooding process, and seems to be working out quite nicely so far.

All it needs yet is some wheels, so it's easier to move....wow, it's heavy!

But by far, I believe this spring the stars of the show are the turkey poults!  What fun, interesting little creatures!  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but they really are different from the baby chicks.  They have a different body shape & their heads are flatter.  They are very friendly and run to you when you go in the brooder area (we have the back of the now-empty hay room in the cow barn partitioned off for them), as opposed to chicks, who would run away.  The poults have an incredible fascination with hands.  I don’t know if they’re just more strongly imprinted on the hands that removed them from their incubator or what, but if you put your hand down they’re instantly there.  And they love to eat out of your hand.

Here you can see the three different breeds of turkeys. White Holland (front left), Bourbon Red (front right), and Narragansett (dark in back).

 We had a couple get weak that weren’t doing too well, and I read that you should mix finely chopped hard-boiled egg in with their starter crumble & make sure they eat frequently to get them up & going again.  I decided to also add some yogurt (fresh, homemade from our milk) to help it stick together.  Scooped up some of that mash on my fingers & they went wild, darting in to grab a mouthful & running all around…they loved it! 

The turkeys are such cute, friendly little things!

I was too late to save the one, but after force feeding the other it perked up & got stronger, and by the next day was running around getting its own food with the rest.  I suppose I soon need to stop the hand-feeding…..it could be a problem when they get bigger!  But they certainly are entertaining.

So that’s what has been keeping this Mommy very busy.  I love my babies…all of them, the human ones definitely included.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Couldn't resist a picture of the colorful flower border along the front walk.

2 Responses to “Spring Babies!”

  1. Susan Lea Says:

    What darling babies you have! I especially like the adorable turkeys and Hershey–is he a Jersey? What kind of chickens are they? Your A-frame is fantastic! Happy Mother’s Day!

  2. Kim Says:

    Yes, Susan…we all have fallen in love with the turkeys! Hershey is 3/4 Jersey, 1/4 Dexter…you can check him out in Calf Corner. MY chicks are a mutt mix…I’m playing with cross-breeding for traits I want. From the hatchery, I ordered some each of Buff Orpington, Brown Leghorn, Americauna, and White Laced Red Cornish…all breeds that have characteristics I want to incorporate into my breeding.