It’s our third year with poultry, and the raccoons have finally found us.
We are down to one laying duck (from four) — they took one on Sunday, one on Monday, and one on Tuesday. So the hens and remaining survivor duck are all staying inside the coop until we can figure out another solution. It’s a bummer; I like seeing them free-ranging around the yard and I definitely like the tasty rich orange yolks they lay because of eating so much grass and weeds.
Also, while the hens slow down their laying in the winter, the ducks are champs and keep laying an egg a day each, pretty much all winter. So we’re looking for some more Khaki Campbell ducks on Craigslist and such. Let us know if you know of any that are available.
Then on Monday night, the dogs woke us up at about 1:30 and we ran out to see a couple big raccoons around the brooders that hold the turkeys (4 weeks old), batch 2 of our broilers (also 4 weeks old), and batch 3 of the broilers (like 5 days old).
We think there should have been 23 turkeys; there are 15 left. There should have been about 58 broilers from batch 2; there are 45 now (though to be fair, we couldn’t count them before and they escaped a lot when they were small, and we might’ve lost some before). The small broilers seem to have been undisturbed.
Raccoon carnage is particularly icky to clean up after, as they often don’t eat the whole bird or carry it away, and in fact if they can reach through the chicken wire and grab a bird, they’ll just gnaw on it through the wire and leave the rest of the body inside the brooder for you to find in the morning.
We have put up electric fence around the brooders and the greenhouse too, where the 30 turkey poults that arrived today are brooding.
Tuesday night we were woken up at about the same time, and the dogs barked a bit then quieted down and seemed confused. The brooders were untouched. I hopefully infer that the dogs were barking at the sound of raccoons learning about electric fence, and subsequently taking off in the other direction.
This affects our turkey availability, obviously, though I’m not quite sure yet how we’ll work it out. Due to some procrastination on our part combined with a really bad experience with Privett Hatchery, we are taking a gamble that the poults that arrived today will be big enough in time for Thanksgiving. We may have only smallish (8-10 pounds) turkeys. If they are really small, we may only sell the fifteen that are left from the first batch for Thanksgiving — they will be a month older — and do today’s 30 for Christmas. Or I guess we could do whoever’s big at Thanksgiving, and give the rest another month to keep growing.
In any case, I’m not sure yet how to take orders for turkeys. I know people will want to secure their turkeys early, so I hope we don’t have to wait too late; I’d be sad if folks waited for us and didn’t order from others, and then we couldn’t deliver and they had to use a storebought bird.
To that end, please put your name and email address if you want to be on the non-binding list of interested people: http://tinyurl.com/turkeyinterestlist. We’ll go down the list first-come first-served, and contact folks as we have birds, and if you have found another source, we’ll just move on to the next person.