Early this morning, we weren’t sure what today’s Fowl Friday post was going to be, but when we walked into the turkey pen, the turkeys suggested this post should be about them.

At only eight weeks until Thanksgiving, our turkeys are looking more...turkey-like (click any image to enlarge)

It’s less than 8 weeks to Thanksgiving, and our turkeys are now 25 weeks old.  This puts us 19 weeks into our first turkey-raising adventure.  They’ve been interesting to watch grow from downy poults, and are now regularly seen strutting their stuff around the farm.

Bourbon Red/Royal Palm Jake

Bourbon Red/Standard Bronze Jake

Admittedly to some, turkeys are rather ugly.

Well...he may not win any beauty contests, but turkeys are unmistakable!

They do have a rather unique appearance, but after raising them ourselves, we’ve come to realize they are actually quite beautiful, and remarkable birds.

This morning all three boys were dressed to impress, in all their colorful glory, looking every bit the quintessential birds that have become synonymous with Thanksgiving.  We’ve posted about Turkey Tails (Trametes versicolor) before, but these are the real thing!

Tail of the Standard Bronze cross

Tail of the Royal Palm cross

We’re often joking between ourselves about the turkey’s ‘mood snoods’, because the snood length on the males changes significantly depending on the mood of the bird.  However, in reality their entire head is an indicator of their mood.  We’ll probably never tire of watching a Jake’s head flush vivid red, then blue, and as the blue color fades, turning a rather alien-looking green.  You’ll never see a chicken do that!

He's actually quite handsome...for a turkey

Each of the birds is beautiful, in its own turkey sort of way, but the Bourbon Red/Standard Bronze Jake is our personal favorite. His feather colors are almost mesmerizing in the early morning light, and he’s certainly the friendlier of the three males toward us.

The Standard Bronze cross has the most remarkable colored body feathers

The largest of the birds is ‘Thanksgiving’, one of the Bourbon Red/Royal Palm crosses.  He’s quite enormous, and is maturing a little faster than the other males. He’s very handsome, but also becoming quite aggressive.

Jenny (left) isn't all that impressed with 'Thanksgiving' (right) - he's a bit of a bully

In contrast the female, who we’ve jokingly dubbed ‘the incredible shrinking Jenny’, seems to be getting smaller each week, not larger.  She’s not though, it’s just that the males continue to grow at a much faster rate, dwarfing her in comparison.

Jenny looks really small next to the Jakes

It’s really difficult to capture behavior with still photographs, so hopefully the following video will give you better idea of how a turkey looks when it’s dressed to impress.  If you turn up the volume, and ignore the squawking pullets in the background, you may be able to hear the low rumbling noise that emanates from the Jakes when they’re displaying.

Thus far our turkey-rearing experiment has been mostly a very positive experience.  At least to this point I can honestly say that raising turkeys has been significantly less problematic, and less drama-drenched, than raising roosters.

However, that said, turkey life is not completely drama free.

 

Boys will be boys, and sometimes they like to fight

This morning’s displays were impressive, and fortunately, passive.  However, there can be drama in the life of young male turkeys, even at this age, and we have had some escalation in the number of fights between the Jakes in recent weeks.  Sometimes I think goats would be much easier.  Thankfully though, a short sharp squirt with the garden hose usually cools everyone off.  It does however make it clear that this population needs to be thinned, soon, as the fighting will only increase significantly by spring, and we really can’t leave poor Jenny loose with three Toms!