This is getting real, people. My babies may be working their way out of their shells as I write this. And I am…terrified.
The number one rule of turkeys is: don’t talk about turkeys. No, wait…that’s not it. The number one rule of turkeys is: don’t raise turkeys together with chickens, you idiot. Like, not even on the same farm, let alone in the same coop. There is one very clear reason for this: blackhead. Blackhead (Histamonosis) is a protozoan disease, transmitted by poop of various flavours. Chickens carry it, but are rarely sickened by it. It is fatal to turkeys.
I am taking this seriously, I am, but I simply cannot take all the sensible precautions; I haven’t the resources, material or personal. Perhaps I shouldn’t even get turkeys at all. I have been in that place many, many times lately, on the brink of throwing in the proverbial towel, and then I’ll see something like this.
So, I bundled up my patchy information with my borderline hysteria and did the reasonable thing: took them to Chicken Debbie.
Chicken Debbie has far more experience with chickens and wild fowl than domesticated turkeys, but she is also the Oracle of Agway, and, as a result, has a very clear ear to the ground on the region, poultry-wise. She assures me that she is unaware of any blackhead in the soil locally, and it must be present in the soil for bird to get infected.
So, I’m rolling the dice. I’m taking what precautions I can, being extra careful until the poults are 4 months of age, at which point they should be less susceptible. I am getting medicated feed, which lets out the organic meat option, but that’s prohibitively expensive, in any event. I will be getting a food which contains preventatives, and will also be armed with the treatment, just in case.
I am treating this first summer as my learning year. If it goes well overall, I’ll proceed to hatching eggs from breeders next spring. I’ll do my best to roll with what Nature gives me, and keep Debbie on speed dial.
But I’m not giving up my chickens.