Something very horrible happened yesterday. As you may have guessed from our photos the chickens (with no pension plan), the turkeys and the alpacas all live together in one field. The chickens and turkeys also have access to the pig field so they can visit the pigs and lay eggs in the hedgerow! The turkeys have been fascinated by the chickens from day one, watching them while they were kept in their run homing, and now hanging out with them as they free-range during the day. Everything seemed fine, until last night.
The chickens are all very friendly – very friendly – when you approach them they crouch down as they would for a cockerel – if you get my drift. The turkey is very excited at the moment hence his puffed out feathers and long red snood in the photo here. We didn’t think this would be a problem, after all for several years Percy, the very frustrated peacock, who belongs to Penny and Ivan, but lives up here in the summer has been strutting his stuff to the chickens (with pension plans) and nothing untoward has occurred, to his disappointment.
Yesterday James saw the male turkey mounting a chicken – this was a little worrying, but he wasn’t too worried. Later last night, as he was putting the chickens to bed he found one of the new chickens in the wooden coop that the turkeys used to live in (they now sleep on the hay feeder and poo on the hay – thanks turkeys). He had a look at the chicken and realised it wasn’t in a good way. It looked like it had been attacked? It didn’t look like a bite – instead the skin looked like it had been sliced off its back. James then remembered a pile of feathers he had seen near by and the earlier turkey incident. So we think the male turkey tried to mount the hen and damaged it with his talons/spurs. This was not the same hen being mounted that James saw earlier as that was in a different field. We were very upset. In the end we humanely killed it. It is possible we could have treated it and let it recuperate in the hospital. After all we have successfully fixed up a chicken that was caught by our neighbour’s greyhound Psyche and ended up with 8 quite large puncture wounds on its back. However, I have just had an operation where my flesh was sliced around quite a bit and I hurt, and to be honest I couldn’t face doing it right now. This might be cowardly, but it is true.
We now have a conundrum. We don’t want this to happen again. We could just eat the turkeys, but we were hoping to be able to breed from them – we now have six turkey eggs ready to incubate. So the only other option is to move them away from the chickens – easier said than done as they are quite proficient escape artists – they can jump quite high despite us clipping one wing. We have the orchard section of the field, but we think – we know – they will just jump over it to go and visit the chickens. We could put them in the future goat enclosure – but do goats and turkeys get on? And will they be safe from foxes there, as it is further away from the our canid defense force, the llama pajama army?
N.B. we have decided to move them to the future goat enclosure. We (well James, as I can’t do this kind of thing at the moment) will rig them up a shelter and perch there this weekend. We will bring in lots of alpaca poo to deter the fox and hopefully they will be fine. Ideally we would also like to get them some friends, maybe a peahen so that finally Percy will be a happy peacock. However we need to take advice on whether male turkeys and peacocks get on – I don’t want any more fights or mating incidents!