We started our venture into raising Beltsville White Turkeys in the spring of 2009. We made the 3 hour trip to Northern Ontario to pick up our first poults. I'm not ashamed to admit that I had my doubts about keeping turkeys since the last time I was around turkeys things didn't go too well. In my previous experience with turkeys the toms tended to be aggressive and seemed to delight in chasing me. My husband really wanted to add these beautiful birds to our collection so I relented. I have to say that I'm glad I did. These have to be the calmest turkeys I've ever had the pleasure to be around. The tom loves to strut around showing off to his girls (and to us if we're around) and the hens are very inquisitive and will follow us around the pasture begging for a treat. The hens can fly over a four foot fence but they rarely venture far from the barn. The tom is starting to be too heavy to get very far off the ground but can still jump onto the top rail of the fence if he really wants to, which fortunately isn't very often. The toms do not like to have competition during the breeding season and the dominate tom seems to get all the girls. But one definite bonus to this awesome Heritage breed is that they can still mate naturally. Since we only started breeding this year I don't know if the hens are good mothers, but they haven't went broody although maybe it's a bit early for that yet and they are first year hens. We always gather the eggs from our heritage breeds and incubate them. The fertility rate is very good, 90% or better. This year our hens started laying in the beginning of January and have been laying quite regularly since then. They lay an average of 3-4 eggs a week. Some weeks we've gotten as many as 6 eggs per hen while other weeks as little as 2 eggs per hen. We are preparing for the arrival of two additional heritage breeds of turkeys, Blue Slate Turkeys and Ridley Bronze turkeys. Hopefully the newest additions will arrive by the end of May 2010.
Our Beltsville White Tom
Well it's now December 2010 and while we do have a few Blue Slates we weren't able to get the Ridley Bronze turkeys. Maybe this is a blessing in a way since I'm convinced there is no such thing as a "friendly" turkey tom. Our Beltsville tom was fine until his second breeding year when he decided he was king of the ranch.