Backyard chicken keeper or poultry farmer?

All across America, people keep chickens in their back yard. Does that make them chicken farmers? I’d argue that it doesn’t in most cases, unless they’ve got a rooster and are continually eating or selling new birds. But if you’re keeping multiple kinds, you stop being a bird keeper and start being a bird farmer. That’s the rule. That I just made up. 

Introducing Tom and Diane! They are Narragansett turkeys, which is one of america’s oldest heritage breeds. Among other things, this means they can fly. While numerous people have suggested I clip their wings, I find that roosting in the trees puts them conveniently out of coyote reach. I’m not worried that they’ll fly away because they have no reason to and they’ve already accepted the yard as home. 

Many people recommend not keeping turkeys with chickens because of the risk of blackhead disease. But I let them free range together for a couple reasons. First, it’s mainly the young turkey poults that are susceptible to it. Once they’re feathered in they are much tougher. Second, being heritage birds that are genetically half wild, they’re much tougher in general. 

The Narragansett breed is from Rhode Island, and that’s how these two got their names. Modern pop culture reference. These two won’t be food, at least for a long time. The plan is to keep them as a breeding couple and their offspring will be thanksgiving and income. Considering that heritage turkey poults sell for $10 when only a day old, it shouldn’t be too difficult to recover my investment!

I’m sure you noticed the straw. The next post will explain why there is straw all over my front yard, and go into how the animals will be used for more than just food and income!


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