September 18, 2022

More Poultry Tales

It's been awhile since I mentioned our poultry. But the ducklings, chicks, and poults have all grown a lot, and I have to tell you what happened with Mama Hen and the chicks. So, here's a long overdue poultry update.

Our turkeys. We're still not sure whether they're male or female.

In my last chick and turkey post, I showed you our turkey yard into which we moved Mama Hen, her three chicks, and the three turkey poults. We kept them separated at first, but once they got used to each other, Dan removed the little barrier fence and gave them all run of the entire turkey yard. This worked pretty well for awhile, and then Dan decided that the turkeys were big enough to stretch their legs in the barn yard. Once they were allowed out there, they decided that they wanted to join the chickens and ducks in the large poultry yard. It became their mission in life! It didn't take long before they found their way into the coop and started roosting there. 

Once the turkeys left the little yard, Mama Hen went missing. Evening came and when we took headcounts before securing everyone for the night, the two remaining baby chicks were alone and Mama Hen was gone. This was worrisome because the chicks were still quite little and we'd already lost one to a skunk. But where was Mama Hen? Dan searched the yard and I did a headcount in the coop. Sure enough, she was roosting in the coop. We would have put her back with the chicks, except we can't tell the Speckled Sussex apart, so we didn't know which one. Instead we put the chicks by themselves into the dog carrier for the night. The next morning, Dan moved them into the chicken tractor and they've been there ever since. One of the Sussex hens came to inspect the chicks the next morning. Was that Mama Hen? There was no sign of recognition on the chicks part, so we didn't know. Nor do we have a clue as to why she abandoned them so early.

How well does a mixed flock of chickens, ducks, and turkeys get along? Amazingly well! I know human opinion is that they must be kept separated, but the birds themselves chose this in spite of our efforts to give every species their own space. And why not? Every ecosystem on earth grows toward a diverse population of species. Our poultry are only doing what's instinctive. 

To add to that, I have to mention that the turkeys are absolutely lost without the chickens. They go there they go and do what they do. They become worried when they can't find them. They pace and call until a chicken comes into sight and then they calm down again.

Schooster, our amazing Speckled Sussex rooster.
I think the key to to our poultry yard success is our rooster. We've had fairly good roosters in the past, but they usually tend to be territorial and even intolerant of anyone that isn't part of their preferred circle. Admittedly, our chickens were pretty intolerant of the Muscovys when we only had the two females. That changed when we got a drake, and especially after our Muscovy ducks went broody and hatched ducklings. The chickens quickly learned to respect their space. When the turkeys moved into the poultry yard, every bird took it in stride. Every bird seems to know their place.

Every bird also listens to Schooster. He's just as alarmist as the next rooster, but every bird knows what his cries mean and heeds him. One day he let out a warning and every bird ran for cover: chickens, ducks, and turkeys. It didn't sound any different to us than some of the other squawks he makes, but Dan started scanning the trees and skies, and sure enough. A large broad shouldered hawk was in a tree overhead. It flew off when Dan spotted it.

To close out my update, here are a few short video clips I took. I'm not a very good videographer, but it's fun to do, so maybe I'll add that to my list of things I'm interested in learning about.


daisy g said...

Isn't it wonderful when these experiments we do lead to some amazing conclusions? I love that all the poultry likes being together. And thank goodness for Schooster!

Ed said...

In my experience, animals do well with each other with lots of space. Put them all in a confined environment and it is a totally different story.

Leigh said...

Daisy, it's worked out very well! (Thankfully :)

Ed, I agree. The right amount of space is important. I don't think any of us do well when confined to crowded conditions. Making sure they have roaming room really helps keep everybody happy.

tpals said...

I remember when we tried adding turkeys to the chicken flock at my parents, the turkeys got sick and died. My wild turkey has been living with my chickens for two years now without problems.

Leigh said...

Tpals, how interesting that you have a wild turkey living with your chickens! It must have lost its flock(?).

Several sources told us poults and young turkeys are more fragile than chickens. Thankfully, it looks like ours will make it.

Annie in Ocala said...

Growing up we had a big open poultry yard on the back side of the horse barn. Lots of roosts and laying boxes available. There were chix, turkeys, ducks and guineas. All used same roost and laying areas. Occasionally a hen would make a nest in the horse stalls or hay barn but generally everyone used the same dang laying box.... There'd offen be 2-3 hens laying in the same box with others waiting in line. The guineas made hidden nests when older but the younger gals laid in the lay boxes and the turkeys frequently used the boxes on the ground. When one hatched chicks if we could catch them they got moved into a nursery yard and turned out when big enough. We lost a lot to wildlife but with probably 100 total birds they reproduced enough to maintain them selves. We did learn to hunt and that provided some protection but that was hit an miss... Snakes were a big drain.. They'd eat a lot of chicks and eggs.

Leigh said...

Annie, thank you for that. Very interesting to read your experience. Keeping domestic poultry safe is a real challenge, but there's something to be said for high numbers, so that losses aren't so devastating.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, thank you for the update (I was wondering how things were going). I do miss having poultry - even the two years we had the quail here were pretty enjoyable. There is just something about having birds around.

Leigh said...

TB, I feel really fortunate that we're able to keep animals. I know not everyone can. Having a mixed poultry flock has been extremely entertaining and enjoyable. (Plus we get eggs, manure, and meat!)

Rosalea said...

Very interesting update on the poultry yard. Your rooster sure is a handsome specimen...and good that he is so good at his job, and is heeded!

Haddock said...

Birds are sharp and smart. The Schooster spotting the hawk is an example.

Anonymous said...

I just love the clips! Especially when the goat nickered at the end.

Nice post with entertainment and education! Aka Goatldi

Leigh said...

Rosalea, we've had pretty good roosters in the past, but Shooster has really been exceptional. :)

Haddock, their eyesight is amazing! And their communication is completely over my head. :)

Goatldi, I'm glad you can comment! Hopefully, blogger will straighten everything out (maybe!). Yeah the goat getting her 2 cents in at the end was a nice bonus!