Happy Hen Farm


bronze turkey

RIP Frankling and Eleanor

It is with a heavy heart that we report the deaths of both of our bronze turkeys, Franklin and Eleanor. We were told when we purchased the birds that they often suffered problems related to size. This particular variety of turkey is bred to gain weight quickly so it is ready for slaughter by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. Of course, ending up on the dinner table was never an option for our birds. Franklin grew to to such immense proportions that his legs simply could not support his bulk and we were forced to have him euthanized in February, 2007. Eleanor died a sad death on July 1, 2007 from what we assume was a rectal prolapse. We put her to bed on June 30th looking like her normal self, and when we opened the coop the next morning it was evident that she was not well. We rushed her to the vet but she died before we could even carry her inside. Matthew was stroking her head as she passed and we were grateful that she was not alone as she crossed over. We do not know what caused Eleanor's medical issues (excessive size, or picking by the chickens, or something else entirely) but they were gruesome. Our turkeys were beloved pets and we enjoyed their presence in our life for over a year. We will definitely miss their distinct personalities and are seriously considering having a vegetarian Thanksgiving this year.



Why turkeys? Because they're beautiful in their own way.

When I saw the beautiful bronze male turkey at the State Fair of Texas a year ago I knew that I wanted one though at the time I didn't feel as if I could take on the responsibility for chicks of any type. I would probably still be wavering back and forth except the Avian Flu tipped my hand. With outbreaks in Southeast Asia and the flu in the news I felt that if I were going to get a turkey I needed to do it now. Once H5N1 reaches North America it's anybody's guess what will happen to backyard poultry fanciers like me, so I felt it was now or never to own a turkey. I haven't regretted my decision.

I chose a bronze turkey because I wanted a bird that looked like something Norman Rockwell would have painted. I wanted the bird that comes to mind when we visualize "turkey". The other breeds are beautiful and if I had space I would have one of each, but since I could have only one I was set on the Bronze.

bronze turkey wing]To see a turkey, or at least one that's not in a plastic wrapper, is something that modern American's don't get to do too often. We are very divorced from our food source and coming face to face with something that I have have only known in a roasting pan has been a thought provoking experience. Running my hands over the birds back and feeling their physical structure is bizarre. I know the feeling, the way the bones jut out, and the way the legs feel. It's just that every other time I've felt that structure I have been preparing my dinner.

Our male turkey, Franklin, has a slightly deformed middle toe. Here is picture of his feet. Notice how it bends to the side. It does not seem to cause him any pain as he moves around during the day, but it does seem to impact his ability to perch at night.

bronze turkey feet

Turkey Intelligence

Turkey Intelligence. Is that an oxymoron? No, absolutely not. When we first purchased the turkeys we were told that they were so stupid they wouldn't even know enough to come in out of the rain. Not true! Our birds, Franklin and Eleanor, have individual personalities and have exhibited a variety of behaviors that to our eyes indicate actual thinking. They're not rocket scientists, but they're definitely not stupid.


Our turkeys share the coop and run with our chickens. Some might say this irresponsible due to the threat of Blackhead Disease (of which chickens are a carrier but are not affected), however after asking around we heard from a couple of people who have successfully housed the two together. We decided to take a chance and thus far we have had no problems.


bronze turkeyMeet Franklin and Eleanor. The names were not chosen with any particular political commentary in mind. I just liked them and wanted something 'American'. Romeo and Juliet seemed to silly. Napoleon and Josephine was far to pompous. Bonnie and Clyde was just plain stupid. Franklin and Eleanor seemed to fit.

As it turns out, Franklin is slightly disabled by a bent toe so perhaps the name fits him better than I anticipated. He doesn't let his toe stop him from hopping into the coop or perching on the ladder, he just has to work a little harder.

bronze turkey

bronze turkey










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