turkey on farm at sunset

New to raising Midget Whites.

by Jim the turkey keeper
(Eastern Washington)

So in the spring of 2013 I convinced my wife and parents that we should raise some heritage turkeys for thanksgiving and for some during the rest of the year.


After doing some research we decided on the Midget White as they are the smallest of the heritage breeds and since one bird will feed two people (my wife and I and my parents) and still have enough left over for some nice sandwiches an pot pies.

We ordered our poults through our local farm and feed (not sure of the hatchery they get them from).

So how did we start out? Well I live in the city and my parents on I acre in the country.

Somehow my mom and I convinced dad that I would be ideal for them to raise them and I would help out with the cost of feed. We got 6 poults in a straight run. We lost one nd don't know why .As the poults got older we soon learned that either the hatchery or the farm and feed store made a minor mistake as 3 of the 5 turned out to be Royal Palms (2 toms and a hen). As for the midget white we got lucky (I'll explain in a bit) with a tom and a hen. So as time goes on we have had no problems with raising them from brooder to outdoor.

Then I come up with what I thought to be a great idea. Why not keep the Midget Whites and let them breed the following spring. I made my pitch to wife and parents and right away what I knew was to be a battle, I made my pitch that in the long run we could save some money as new poults run about $10 each ( I knew it was gonna cost more to raise and feed them for a year before we even think of getting our own poults from the tom and hen, but I made a good pitch).

So the next hurdle was where to raise them, Dad said no way he was not going to do the raising and take care of them through the winter. So I had another great idea, I would do it at my home in the city.

New hurdle to jump over I forgot to tell my wife my great idea before talking to my parents and agreeing to do it (oops).

Well we do live in the city and we do have about 1/4 acre, and our city has now allowed people to have fowl (no roosters) according to the size of the lot (we are allowed 3).

So the next thing I had to do was convince the wife that I could do it and that she didn't have to do a thing but watch me learn on how to raise and keep them alive. Hurdle crossed and then a whole new set of hurdles show up.

Since we had already secured a feed source of organic feed ( a local gentleman that raises poulty for local restaurants and makes his own organic feed) left me with how to house the turkeys.

Well I figured that a small house 8x8 would be just right for them. The size would allow them enough area to move around and still provide a area for feed and water and a place to roost.
I built the house from some cedar that I got from a local mill for free.(their mill ends are just a bit over 1x4x4).

After reading that they are hardy birds and would not need a heat source during the winter, I still wanted to provide them with some shelter from the winter winds. Half of the house has wood sides and the other half is done with chicken wire. The design is one of a larger barn style (I knew that I wanted something that looked nice and fit into the outside d├ęcor of our yard).

So now its fall and I really wanted to be able to let my birds get some fresh greens and be able to forage to help lower the feed bill. Next great idea I had was why not let them forage around the back of the yard (our yard is deep and we have it sectioned into two areas, they get the back area).
So the big day arrived and I let them our of the house. Knowing that they could fly but not knowing if they would was going to be a challenge.

Well they didn't fly away right of the get go but it was fun to see them give it a try, the house doesn't provide a area to try out their wings but does allow them to stretch them. Being such curious birds they did roam around and find many things to graze on. They enjoyed the dandelion leaves and small crab apples the most.

Well it has been nice to let them out to graze and its actually fun for me to watch them and see how much they like to follow me around the yard.
So the next hurdle was, ok I let them out of the house, how do I get them back in.

Well that turned out to be easier done than said. As I got close to them I noticed that instead of running or flying away from me, they just moved at a slow walk in front of me.

So I just spread my arms out and guided them towards the open door, and in they walked.
I've let them out as much as my time permits and it gets easier every time to get them back in, they seemed to learn when I want them back inside the house.

I have a few pictures of the house and the turkeys that I will try to post later with a short description of each.

I really didn't mean to say so much the first time out but its my story and I will try to keep other posts short and sweet.
Thank You for reading this if you made all the way to this point.

Jim the new turkey keeper.

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