Turkeys and noise - When turkeys hear a noise almost the whole herd will all gobble at once. (Click on the audio above to hear the turkeys).
Growing up on a Turkey Farm in Moroni, Utah
1945 - My dad and my oldest brother - John LaMont
LaMont as an adult with his 2 boys still raising turkeys.
Growing up on a Turkey Farm was a very unique experience. I remember at a young age helping out with the turkeys. I think it was more for the experience of learning to work than that my dad needed the help.
My dad started out with herds of bronze (black) turkeys (later on in years, they only raised white turkeys – that was so the black pinfeathers wouldn’t show when the turkeys were processed) The herds they would receive started at 2,000 then increased through the years to 5,000 and now they are anywhere from 10,000 to 16,000 depending on the size of the brooder barn they are going in to. They stayed in the brooder coops for about 5 weeks where they were protected from the weather, then they were transported out to the open range in the hills with only a roof on the range house to protect them until they were ready to go to the turkey processing plant. Today, they are transferred to huge barns called outgrow barns where they are completely protected from weather, varmints and disease. Some of these barns will hold 10 to 16,000 turkeys. (See pictures below).
Up in the hills, they also had trouble with deer coming and taking the feed for the turkeys. They would build 2 tier fences and they could still jump over them and get to the feed. That’s why it’s all enclosed now in the outgrow barns.
They received water and food in long troughs. Sometimes I had to help put water in the troughs and feed also. Today everything is really automated with the feeders on a chain and the water is fed into little cup s that have nipples on them where the turkeys peck at them to release water and also the grain feeders now have augers that keep the troughs full.
The water troughs have little nipples on them that the turkeys peck at to get their water.
The grain is piled into huge tanks outside and is then transported through the lines with augers where it spills out into the baskets.
De-beaking and vaccinating. In the olden days, they were de-beaked around the age of 2 weeks I think. A hot blade would be pushed down on a metal plate to cut the end of the top beak off. This was done so they wouldn’t peck each other to death. We also vaccinated them in their legs against disease around the age of 3 weeks I think. If the herds got a disease in them the whole herd could be affected with many of them dying. Around the age of 7 o r 8, myself and other brothers and sisters would go help herd the turkeys into a little pen to wait in line. Then someone else would grab the turkeys by the legs while someone else either vaccinated them or de-beaked them depending on what we were doing that day.
Turkeys are kind of fragile in the beginning. The turkeys are so soft and cute when they are so tiny. Sometimes loud noises would scare them and they would run and gather too close to each other and sometimes smother to death. Turkeys will also stop each other until that turkey is almost as flat as a pancake. When the turkeys get older, it's funny when you make a noise, the whole heard of turkeys will all gobble together.
Even in the summertime, they need heaters in the beginning to keep them warm.