Herd Birds

One thing we appreciate about turkeys is their suitability for herding.  Just judging by their body shape, we might expect them simply to act like bigger versions of chickens.  Turkeys and chickens are only distant relations in the larger pheasant family, so it isn’t surprising that they express their flocking instincts quite differently.  Even though they bear strong resemblances, they are very different birds.

Moving turkeys across open pasture is far easier than trying to accomplish the same task with chickens.  Chickens scatter in all directions, and even with a crew of people, it normally takes three or four tries before the laying hens can be moved from one pasture to another.  Whenever possible, we wait until night to move the hens, so we can move them when they are roosting in their wagon.  Turkeys (with perhaps the exception of the first time moving them) always go in one big group without any drama.

Herding Turkeys
About to start moving the flock to their next pasture.  Yes, it really is that steep.  All our portable livestock infrastructure needs to have a stable profile with a low center of gravity to account for the steep terrain on the front half of the farm.

Allie does all the daily the turkey chores, so they are imprinted on her and will willingly follow her anywhere.  They don’t know me as well, so I work better behind the flock, driving them.  I don’t need to any cowboy shouting, just following behind while making large arm motions is enough to keep the stragglers on the move.  We spent about an hour moving fences, feeders, water lines, and the shelter trailer, so it is almost anticlimactic when the actual turkey move takes thirty seconds.  Not that we mind it when things go well…

Allie with Turkey
Allie was telling me today that she’s proud of accomplishing a big task like raising 260 turkeys this summer.  There have been plenty of challenges in it for her, and we’re proud of her for doing a great job.
Turkeys in Range Coop
The younger group of turkeys is out of the brooder, but we still have them in the relative shelter of one of the portable chicken range coops.  In another week they’ll get promoted to full pasture access.

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