Turkey helps out buddy (another turkey) with vision problems

Hello everybody, I hope that everyone had a nice holiday weekend with friends and family.

Three years ago I added two, 12-hours-old turkey poults (baby turkey) to my established miniature chicken flock. One is named Cricket, she is a Royal Palm, and the other was Bleu Belle, who was a Spanish Black that sadly succumbed to an incurable paralysis brought about by egg laying when she was two.

I belong to a Rare Heritage Turkey email list. My girls were/are both called “rare heritage”, meaning that their numbers are low and some even verge on extinction and hearken back to the primitive breeds that our fore founders brought with them and/or developed.

I have an email friend from my turkey list who lives where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Below is her tale of a (mostly) blind turkey she has. I found it particularly touching as in my professional work, and in my bird rescue work, I frequently deal with animals who have special buddies.  Enjoy!

Dorene Olson, TARA Training and Behavior LLC 314.956.1310 www.doreneolson.com

I also have a Spanish Black hen with vision problems, or problems in perception — it’s hard to tell. There are several neurological issues, and some things she seems to see well but occasionally she runs into things.

Anyway, my husband and best friend fell in love with her. We debated on how to manage her, and I wanted her to learn how to live within the free range flock.  She may be disabled, but she’s learned how to live within her abilities.  She listens to the other birds and imitates them well.

When she was about three months old we had to intervene because she wasn’t finding food as well, and when she did she didn’t eat enough. But we started adding spicy curried rice to the food and she made the effort to figure it out. We stopped the rice when her weight matched the others, and she has maintained ever since.

There is one Blue Slate hen that is her best friend, and they graze together, since the Black can’t figure out what grass to eat on her own and ends up eating dirt and fallen leaves if her buddy isn’t with her.  She’ll never be able to pick blackberries off the bush on her own, and she gets confused and frustrated sometimes, but for the most part she’s learned to function from the other birds.  She’s got a pretty good life and is very much loved.  Her name is Isabella.

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