We’ve got five turkeys across two different breeds. The two oldest residents are the older, larger Bronze Turkey pair, Wurzel and Jessie. We were recently gifted a young Bronze turkey female, Ducky, from our friends at Mitcham Community Orchard, and have acquired a breeding pair of Pied Turkeys (the white ones), who are called Mary and Paul. Ducky was hand raised, so is quite nosy and wants to see what people are up too! She’ll often wander over to check you out, whilst some of the others are quite nervous around people.
The large male Turkeys are easy to tell apart from other poultry by their sheer size and rather odd looking featherless heads. The turkey has a long and fairly exotic history; it was originally domesticated by the native inhabitants of Central America some 2000 years ago. The female turkeys are called Hens, the males Stags and the young are poults.
Wurzel and Jessie have been at the farm for years and are both fairly old, Jessie doesn’t tend to lay any eggs these days, but it doesn’t stop Wurzel from strutting around and showing off for her. You can often find him in his displaying mood in the pen, with his feathers all puffed up, tail fanned out and strutting his stuff! The most eye-catching of all is usually his unusual head, which he can make very brightly coloured, and the long dangling piece of skin that covers his beak, called a snood. You might also hear him calling away, unlike the cockerels and their characteristic Cock-A-Doodle-Do’s, turkeys have a very funny sounding gobbling call.
Like many of the other breeds on the farm, both Bronze and Pied Turkeys are a rare breed. There are in fact many different breeds of turkeys (most of which are also rare), coming in a variety of colours and feather patterns.
The New Chicken Area
One of our major projects for 2015-2016 was the rebuilding of our Chicken area near the entrance to the farm. The first set of pens were officially opened in July 2015 by the Mayor of Merton, and since then we’ve been adding and extending it along! Eventually the plan will be to have all birds out there together, including a brand new aviary and duck pond, moving all the waterfowl, poultry and miscellaneous birds off the main farm yard and out to the front of the farm!
The pens have been built very much with the animals in mind. There’s a limit on the number of birds allowed in each enclosure, ensuring they all have ample space if they want to be away from the others. The secure mesh walls means that we don’t have to worry about locking them away into their houses at night, and the roofed enclosures also offer protection from the elements, but still allowing them to enjoy the weather. Inside they have a nesting space for laying, and sand bath and grit.
The new chicken area has been built entirely by staff and volunteers and is only doable thanks to the kind donations of our visitors and supporters!