9 things you only know if you’re a turkey farmer

9 things you only know if you're a turkey farmer
Richard Smith introduced turkeys to Daylesford Organic Farm (Picture: Richard Smith)

Organic food and farming have always played a huge role in my life.

I grew up on a large farm in Northamptonshire and my passion for livestock farming developed from there.

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I have been working as a farmer for over 13 years and I am currently the senior farms manager at Daylesford Organic Farm – which is one of the most exciting, forward-thinking and sustainable farms in the country.

A couple of years ago I decided to introduce turkey rearing to the farm and have loved every moment.

Turkeys are such inquisitive and brilliant creatures.

Here are nine things that I have learnt from rearing them over the years, that you may not know.

1. Baby turkeys are called poults not chicks

Baby turkeys are called poults – not chicks as some believe.

They are called this until they are five weeks old, from there, females are called hens, and males are stags.

2. They love trees

Turkeys are natural forest dwellers; they perch and roost in the trees at night and build nests at the base.

They feel most comfortable in an environment with natural cover and varying heights of habitat.

This provides them with points of interest to play and explore and security from predators.

(Picture: Getty)

3. They ‘flirt’ with their snood

When a male turkey is feeling particularly amorous, their snood (the red fleshy bit hanging off their beaks) will engorge with blood and extend to hang down over the beak, they will then strut around the field looking for a mate.

4. They de-stress by ruffling their feathers

Turkeys will strut around, stretch their legs and ruffle their feathers, which helps to reduce stress and behaviour such as feather pecking at themselves or other turkeys.

5. Organic standards are there to protect the bird

When turkeys are raised organically, such as under the Soil Association (the UK’s leading charity in organic food and farming) standards, they live in much smaller flocks – meaning they are free to roam, have better access to grass and air and more space in their houses.

6. Turkeys play ‘wing-men’ to each other.

Turkeys are very social and affectionate animals, groups of related male turkeys will group together to find one of their stags a suitable mate.

Even though all of them will try to court the female, only one stag will get to mate with the hen in the end.

(Picture: Getty)

7. Female turkeys can purr

‘Gobble, gobble’ may be the sound you have always associated with turkeys, but it’s only males that can create this noise – they use it while trying to attract a mate.

Females respond by ‘purring’, ‘chirping’ and ‘yelping’.

8. They love to explore and roam around in a ‘raffle’

Foraging for food, strutting around the field and exploring their surroundings are all natural behaviours of a turkey, which they do in a ‘raffle’ (a group of turkeys).

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9. Turkeys have 270-degree field vision

Who needs a TV when you can have a 270-degree vision of your surroundings?

Turkeys can take in large portions of their field at any given time.

This allows them to search for food and still be alert in-case of a predator.

They also have super impressive hearing due to their unique optical capacities.

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