Tag Archives: Wild Turkey

No Rest For The Wicked

A couple of tom turkeys are terrorizing folks in Frederick, Massachusetts in the USA are harassing church-goers, drivers inside their cars, and cyclists.

People are keeping a wary eye on Opossomtown Pike for the gobbling, pecking and scratching animals.

“We were preparing our community dinner, which was turkey,” says Pastor Katie Penick of Faith United Church of Christ, whose daughter Meg was among the first attacked.”Hello, whoa, hello!…,” squeals Meg, on video she shot of the assault.The tom turkeys were apparently out to protect their hens. They gobbled, and then chased after her and first grade teacher Debra Wilcox, who had noticed a whole rafter of turkeys in the church yard and gone out to investigate.

“My camera clicked,” says Wilcox. “And they both turned their heads turned my way and it was kind of like slow motion, they turned toward me and I started running in slow motion toward me.”

Wilcox says they were like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park.

“I haven’t run that fast in years.”

The turkeys are even attacking cars on Opossomtown Pike. One guy says he was sitting in the drivers seat when the two toms jumped up on his hood and started pecking at the windshield with their beaks and slashing at them with their spurs.

Turns out wild turkeys are plenty territorial, and if you search YouTube, you will find all kinds of video of them attacking people.

Meg took refuge on top of a play set. “She was safe up there,” says her mom. “You know they can fly?” “Don’t tell my daughter!”

Despite their nervousness,  church members now feel they to protect the turkeys, especially considering their motto. “Whoever you are or wherever you are in life’s journey, you are welcome here. Now we welcome turkeys,” says Pastor Penick.

Spring turkey hunting season in Maryland starts in less than a month. And if those toms keep acting the way they’re acting, they’re SITTING DUCKS!

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Domesticated and Grazed Turkeys

Our friend, P. Allen Smith, discusses the majesty of the wild turkey, spends a little time with grazed turkeys and discusses how turkeys are raised and domesticated in today’s world.

If there was a symbol of Thanksgiving it would have to be one of these. But this is no ordinary turkey. In fact, this one is really pretty lucky since it’s not on someone’s dinner table and it has been raised in a very unique way.

This bird and all of his friends are being grown not the conventional way in large houses, but with a more old fashioned approach, they are all field grazed. Grazing them on pastures like this is a spin on the free range idea except this goes one step further. It sort of serves as a mobile corral that protects the birds and keeps them under control, but also allows them to feed on fresh green grass daily.

Moving them is simple. This entire coup can be rolled forward by a single person. It’s made of light weight materials and it has wheels at the rear.

An added benefit to this controlled grazing is the poultry litter. You see, it’s loaded with nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, all the things that make our garden grow. And it can turn this pasture green seemingly overnight.

But too much of anything can be a problem. How the poultry industry disposes of its waste has become a major issue in many states. With this method the waste doesn’t concentrate in one area building up in the soil or water so it doesn’t pose a problem to the environment.

This isn’t a new concept, it’s the way turkeys were raised in the 1930’s and 40’s and just as it did then, today it allows a small farmer to raise a crop in a sustainable way.

The skinny on snoods, wattles and wishbones

Wild turkeys were an endangered species by the 1930s. Today, more than 7 million roam across North America.

Millions of wild turkeys used to roam freely across much of North and South America, but by the 1930s, over-hunting had reduced them to an endangered species. There were an estimated 30,000 wild birds left in the United States.

But after decades of restocking the population, there are now about seven million wild turkeys in North America.

World turkey production

Rank Country 2006 Production (tonnes)
1 United States 3,259,700
2 France 501,127
3 Germany 375,996
4 Italy 273,816
5 Brazil 215,190
6 United Kingdom 206,031
7 Canada 163,411
8 Hungary 108,018
9 Israel 105,000
10 Chile 90,399
Total World 5,797,749

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Agriculture and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006.

The turkey is a variety of pheasant. Archaeological evidence suggests turkeys roamed North America as far back as 10 million years ago. Native Americans domesticated them about 2,000 years ago.

A male turkey is called a “tom” and a female turkey a “hen.” A large group of turkeys is called a “flock.”

Wild turkeys are found in hardwood forests with grassy areas. They spend the night in trees. They have excellent vision and hearing but don’t see well at night. They can fly short distances at speeds of up to 90 km/h and can run at speeds of up to 40 km/h.

Domesticated turkeys do not fly — because of selective breeding — and aren’t likely to run very much, either. By the time the average turkey is ready for your table, it has been so fattened up at the factory farm that it has as much chance of achieving flight as you do.

It takes 17 to 20 weeks to raise a turkey that weighs 10.8 kilograms or more. That bird will have consumed around 30 kilograms of feed while it was alive.

Canada is one of the world’s biggest producers of turkeys. According to Statistics Canada, Canadian farmers produced 180,000 tonnes of turkey in 2008. That’s an increase of 6.5 per cent from the previous year.

Canadian consumption of turkey has remained relatively stable over the past two decades — at around 2.2 kilograms per person per year. However, production has increased substantially as Canadian turkey exports have grown by 30 per cent since 2001.

The top turkey-eating country in the world is Israel, at 11.5 kg per person every year. Here’s how other countries measure up, per person per year:

  • United States: 7.7 kg.
  • France: 5.9 kg.
  • United Kingdom: 4.8 kg.
  • European Union: 4.0 kg.

Why is this type of poultry called ‘turkey’?

There are several theories:

  • The Native American name for turkey is “firkee.”
  • The wild turkey’s call sounds like “turk-turk-turk.”
  • Christopher Columbus named them “titka,” which is the word for peacock in the Tamil language of India. Columbus thought the New World was connected to India.

Why do turkeys gobble?

Male turkeys gobble; hens make a clicking sound. The gobble is a seasonal call for the males. They also gobble when they hear loud noises and when they settle in for the night.

What are those fleshy things on turkey heads?

The long fleshy area that grows from a turkey's forehead is called a 'snood.'The long fleshy area that grows from a turkey’s forehead is called a ‘snood.’ (iStock photo)The long, red, fleshy area that grows from the forehead over the bill is a “snood” while the fleshy growth under the turkey’s throat is called a “wattle.” These pieces fill up with blood and turn bright red when a tom wants to attract a hen but they can also turn blue if the turkey is scared. If a turkey isn’t feeling well, the snood and wattle become very pale.

Are there different breeds?

Common domesticated breeds include: Bronze, Broad Breasted Bronze, Broad Breasted Large White, Black, Bourbon Red, White Holland, Narragansett and Beltsville Small White.

Why does turkey have white and dark meat?

For the same reason that chicken does: the legs and thighs contain dark meat because the muscles are more heavily exercised from walking and contain more fat than the meat that comes from the breast. White meat has less oxygen-carrying myoglobin than dark meat. The more work a muscle does — whether you’re a bird or a person — the more oxygen it needs.

What’s with the wishbone? Does it serve a purpose?

The superstition goes that when you find a wishbone, two people should each grasp one part of the wishbone pull; whoever is holding the longest part when it breaks will have their wish come true.

For turkeys — at least the ones who spend their life in the wild — the wishbone, which is called the furcula, is key to strengthening their skeleton to withstand the rigors of flight. It’s formed by the fusion of the two clavicles at the sternum.

The bone is elastic, allowing it to act as a spring that stores and releases energy during flight.

Why can’t I buy turkey eggs at the supermarket?

Domestic turkeys are raised in cramped quarters. They're ready for market seven or eight months after they hatch. Turkeys basically aren’t the egg-producing machines that chickens are. There are also a lot more chickens in this country than turkeys. It takes turkeys longer than chickens to start producing eggs, and once they start, they produce far fewer eggs than chickens.

Turkeys also tend to be far more protective of their eggs than chickens. They’ll stay with them until they hatch and do what they can to keep you away from them.

Why do I feel sleepy after eating turkey?

Probably because you’ve had too much of it, combined with too much dessert and maybe too much of other stuff as well.

Yes, turkey contains an amino acid called L-tryptophan, which the human body needs to build certain proteins. The body uses L-tryptophan to make serotonin, which has a tranquilizing effect.

However, many foods contain the same amino acid — and in much greater quantities than turkey. Ever feel sleepy after eating raw soybeans? Maybe you should. They contain more than twice the levels of L-tryptophan than turkey does.

What’s with the cranberry sauce and stuffing?

It’s believed Native Americans taught the colonialists how to cook cranberries and different kinds of corn, squash and pumpkin dishes.

The origins of stuffing are not certain. Some experts say it’s a traditional dish made from bread and vegetables and most probably originated in Eastern Europe.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2009/10/08/f-turkey-facts-figures.html