The last few Fowl Fridays have been all about the drama in Frodo’s world, but what happened to our turkeys? 

Hello? Remember us?

Our four turkeys have been at the farm for twelve weeks, and are now 17 weeks old.  There have been some significant changes since they arrived at the farm. 

6 Week-old Turkey Poults

There’s no question now that we have three males and one female.  During our last turkey update the presumed Jakes (males) appeared to be showing more prominent snood growth than the presumptive Jenny (female).  We also had clues from the size of the caruncles as to who might be who.  However, we’ve never had turkeys before, so we weren’t completely sure.

Both the snoods and caruncles have become more prominent in the Jakes over the last few weeks though, removing any doubt. 

The snoods on the males have grown significantly in the last few weeks

Overall body size has increased substantially in the past few weeks too.  The male Bourbon Red/Royal Palm crosses are the largest, and also have the largest snoods.  The Bourbon Red/Standard Bronze Jake is somewhat smaller in stature, and his snood not quite so impressive, yet.

The snood on the Bourbon Red/Standard Bronze male is noticeably smaller

The feather coloring has become much richer in both the Royal Palm crosses, and the Standard Bronze crosses.

Bourbon Red/Royal Palm Crosses are becoming a rich amber color

The Standard Bronze crosses have more pattern in their feathers (Jenny left; Jake right)

The male Bourbon Red/Standard Bronze cross is showing some beautiful iridescence in some of his body feathers. 

Iridescent body feathers of the Bourbon Red/Standard Bronze Jake

The Jenny of the same cross is now easily distinguished from the Jake as the edges of most of her body feathers have a cream-colored border along the edges, giving her a slightly lighter appearance. 

The Bourbon Red/Standard Bronze Jenny (front) has pale body feather margins compared to the Jake (back)

The red-toned Royal Palm crosses, although not apparent when they were younger, are starting to show some dark edging to their body feathers too.

We’ve discovered that overall turkeys are far more suspicious of new things in their environment than chickens.

"What was that !?!" - Turkeys are intensely curious about anything that flies overhead

You’ll notice in the video that they make an interesting series of chirps when confronted with a new treat (off camera) that they don’t recognize.  It took an entire day for them to muster enough courage to investigate a simple slice of melon.  The chickens would have devoured it in 10 minutes!

We also have experienced the downside to having too many future Toms in the mix.  Boys will be boys, and we’ve broken up a couple of fights between the Jakes over the past six weeks.  Siegfried, our rooster, has recently taken to crowing in the mornings, and for some reason this seemed to agitate the Jakes.  In fact Siegfried’s crowing was at least partially responsible for more than one scuffle between the three Jakes, although the Jakes do now seem to be getting used to their early morning wake-up calls.  We suspect part of the problem was that turkeys like the status quo, they don’t like change, or differences in their environment, and having a crowing rooster around is, well, different.


"No change, please!"

The Jakes seem to be primarily posturing and play fighting thus far.  Snoods, and especially wattles, are fair game during a scrum, and it takes quite a while to get them to calm down once a ruckus has ensued!  You’ll probably notice the Bronze cross Jake in the video has a couple of minor grazes on his face from a recent skirmish. Ideally we’d have multiple Jennys, not Jakes.


The Jenny has a smaller snood, and significantly smaller caruncles than the Jakes

Although there’s only one Jenny at the farm, our brood are too young to be concerned with trying to garner her attention yet.  However, we will need to reduce our male quotient before next spring, or the fighting will become more serious.


Too many males...Bourbon Red/Royal Palm Jake pair

It’s interesting to note that popular commercial broad-breasted turkeys are usually harvested between 14-18 weeks of age.  Our turkeys already fall into the upper end of that age bracket.  However, heritage breeds (including heritage crosses) take significantly longer to mature, usually in the realm of 6 months before they are ready for the table.  Don’t worry though, we have many more weeks to go before then, and in the meantime we’ll continue to spoil our turkeys rotten, they deserve it.


Fresh apples make for a tasty turkey treat