Sunday, May 15, 2011

Turkeys aren't chickens: Presentation on raising turkeys coming up

 Midget White hen with newly-hatched turks.

This weekend, I'm farm-sitting for my sister in Poulsbo, about an hour's drive from our place. While the change of scene (and routine) is oddly vacation-like, it's definitely a working weekend: I'm making final preparations for a 45-minute presentation on raising turkeys.

Mark your calendars: The Mother Earth News Fair is June 4-5, at the Puyallup Fairgrounds south of Seattle. I will be speaking at the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy's stage on both days of the Fair. If you live around here, or will be in the area that weekend, please try to come. The list of presenters, speakers and exhibitors is truly impressive; check the Mother Earth News web site for topics, schedules and maps.

My presentation will be an overview of raising turkeys, starting with basic questions. For example, I think it's important to ask yourself why you want to raise them. (You'd be surprised how few people think about this before they bring the cute little day-olds home.) If you think you're going to save money on your holiday bird by raising one yourself, frankly, you probably won't. Turkeys also have different nutritional needs than chickens; they are bigger birds, so housing can be an issue; should they be kept in pens or is it best to free-range? How much time and money, realistically, do you have to put into raising turkeys?

These are just a few of the questions that I will be addressing at the Fair. Some we thought of before we got our first turkeys, others we learned through experience that we should have asked questions sooner.

We love our turkeys, and truly enjoy their often quirky behavior and mannerisms. If you're even a little bit interested in raising turkeys, I'd love to see you at the Mother Earth News Fair. It promises to be a weekend of learning opportunities for anyone seeking ways to live more sustainably. Do plan to come if you can!

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