Once turkey poults are 5 weeks old, they get moved from their brooder house to finisher barns. Katie and Bart start with 20,000 male turkeys (toms) in the brooder house.
When they get to 5 weeks old (and about 5 pounds), they are loaded in the turkey transport trailer and taken to the finisher barn on the other side of their farm. (It takes more time to load the birds into the turkey transport trailer than it does to drive to the next barn!) The trailer is between uses right now, and is stored in the equipment shed.
The turkeys are loaded inside the trailer and the trailer is covered with a tarp for the short ride. We don’t want the turkeys jumping out of the trailer or getting too windblown on their ride!
The turkeys are split into two barns. Each barn is 60 feet wide by 528 feet long and houses 10,000 turkeys (remember, an NFL football field is 160 feet wide by 360 feet long, including the endzones).
I got to see a flock of birds that were about 9 weeks old, and weighed about 13.5 pounds. They start out cute when they are poults, but that bald head sure doesn’t let them stay cute for long!
These turkeys stand about knee-high. And they are still very curious. Just like the poults came over to meet me and see what was going on, this flock of turkeys did the same thing. It’s really hard to see way in the back of this long barn, but there is plenty of room for these birds to spread out and have their space. They just want to all be in on the new action!
Food, water, and ventilation is very important for turkeys of all sizes, but especially as they get bigger. These turkeys have an automatic system for their food and water – that’s the pipes that run the length of the barn. The turkeys are never forced to eat, but they always have access to plenty of fresh food and water, whenever they want it.
The ventilation systems in these barns is really amazing, and I’ll get into that in a whole separate post. The short version is that these barns are designed to keep the heat in during the winter to keep the turkeys warm, and to keep the heat out during the summer to keep the turkeys cool. The poults need to be kept warm, but the older turkeys need temperatures to be a little cooler. Great ventilation is really important, especially in the summer months!
Do these 9-week old turkeys look like you thought they would? What were you expecting? What other turkey questions do you have?
Don’t forget to check out the National Turkey Federation for more information about turkeys.
For more turkey information, check out these articles: