SADDLE UP THEM TURKEYS!
It is breeding time for Little Bend’s Bourbon Red turkeys so it is time to “Saddle up them turkeys”!
So what is saddling a turkey? Well the term saddling a turkey is just what you might expect. We actually put a saddle on the hen turkey as pictured below.
The turkey saddle is made out of canvas which is a heavy duty material that can stand up to the elements and the mounting of the tom turkey. It is stitched around the edges to prevent fraying and you may notice a curved piece of piping in the center. The piping is stitched in place to help the tom turkey stay on top of the turkey during mating. At the top is a strap that is made to go over the hen’s wings. The saddle fits on the hen as pictured in the pictures below.
So why the turkey saddle? Well actually for the same reason you saddle a horse. We use saddles to help balance the tom turkey on the hen and as I spoke of the piping strip this gives the tom something to hold on to. Also, the saddle protects the hen from the tom’s toenails as they can dig in to the hen turkey and hurt her.
Heritage turkeys are very much like wild turkeys in breeding with the difference is with a heritage turkey the farmer takes away the eggs so the hen keeps on laying them. You see a turkey hen will lay a clutch of eggs usually consisting of anywhere from 8 to 15 eggs. Once that is done she will quit laying and start to brood which means she will sit on them for 28 days until they hatch and you get baby turkeys called poults.
But if the farmer takes away the eggs the hen usually keeps laying and this in turn causes the hen to keep sitting for the tom to bred her. If she does this the tom will continually mount the hen and that can cause her damage over the breeding season.
I mentioned the hen usually keeps laying however sometimes the hen goes broody which means she will stop laying eggs and will just sit on the nest. She will sit on any eggs she can find in fact in a wild flock of hens there usually are broody hens a well as laying hens that will sit on all the other hens eggs. This insures longevity of the flock. However; this could be a detrimental for the farmer if all the hens go broody and none are laying!
Bourbon Red turkey hens are mildly broody meaning some will brood and others will not. I have found here at Little Bend that approximately 10% go broody and there are ways to break them of that if it becomes a problem. We have enough turkeys to lay eggs so it is not a problem for us.
So now you know why we saddle up our turkeys! It can be a chore to do especially when you have as many hens as we have! However; we feel it is best to protect our hen turkeys and to insure they are happy and healthy turkeys! If you have turkeys I recommend you purchase some turkey saddles for your hens as well. I hope you have found this blog interesting, informative, and educational and please check out the video below to see how to put a turkey saddle on a turkey.
Until next time God Bless Friends and we’ll gobble at ya later!