The unseasonably warm weather has been playing havoc with my birds. Instead of taking a month or so off laying over the late autumn/winter period, this time round all the females have been producing eggs, and I also currently have four brooding turkeys and three incubators in use. I also have an assortment of chicks of various ages and various breeds. Out in the Eglu with Momma Turkey are five hybrids (black/Rouge Ardennes crosses). There were two other chicks, which appeared to be white turkeys – goodness knows how since we ‘processed’ our two white males a good few months ago – but sadly they both rather weak and we lost them. (There’s quite a high attrition rate with chicks.) These guys hatched in early December so are nearly a month old now.
Under the red lamp in the stable we have Pilgrim, the hybrid turkey born on Thanksgiving Day and the only survivor from his brood, together with TJ, a chick whose mother is Rors’ pet chicken, TT (hence his name). Pilgrim spent quite a while in the house with us.
Freshly out of one of my super incubators and now in the ‘hardening off’ plastic box with the Ecoglow brooder are my first three pedigree Rouge Ardennes turkey chicks, together with two more hybrids and our New Year’s Day chick, Happy.
I posted on FaceBook that Happy was our first chick of 2016, but I have may have been mistaken there. I think he might have been beaten by some finches. On 2nd January I heard a sound I recognised, and that made my heart sink a little: baby finches calling for food. It’s a soft, sort of buzzing sound. Despite removing their eggs regularly and replacing them with plastic ones, Tina and Gus outwitted me this time and have had another brood. I think I must have been distracted by Christmas and forgot to check. It only takes a fortnight for the eggs to go from newly laid to squawking finch, so it’s a fairly narrow window of opportunity to catch them in time. I hadn’t wanted to separate Gus and Tina, a bonded pair, but I think we may have to. I think a boys’ cage and a couple of girls’ cages will be the way to go. That, or put the new babies in with the budgies, once they’re old enough, and do a weekly egg scouring.
I mentioned my brooding turkeys. Three of them, two blacks and an RA, are in the stable, sitting on each other’s eggs. They keep shifting around. I had to lift my second RA female off a pile of eggs yesterday when I found her on a nest amongst the brambles on the lake side. Those will be going into the incubator just as soon as I’ve scrubbed it out. One thing about these incubators, which can be used as brooders for a while too, is that they’re quite tricky to clean out. It’s a bit of a major operation. Still, they’re main intention is as an incubator and they do that job very well. We’ll be having to do some ingenious chick-rehoming over the coming weeks. It’s way too cold to be putting any of the babies out with the main flock for a while yet, so we’ll be popping them into various cosy nooks and crannies until we can devise a bigger, better chick-raising area. There’s always something else to add to our ‘to do’ list!
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