I’d spent a good bit of time, earlier this year, researching turkeys. I ultimately decided not to buy them this year — we were adding American Bresse chickens to our flock, and we are getting a few beehives. But we kept thinking about it — specially now that the Bresse are pretty much grown up. It was, however, too late to be ordering turkeys. They were all sold out! I managed to find one hatchery — Cackle — that had a “surplus” box of random heritage turkeys available. And hatching the very next day. We decided to order five, and the turkeys hatched basically the day we ordered them.
They shipped the little guys out the next day — and then we encountered the problem with sending live animals. The delivery was Friday. Then it was Saturday. Then it was Monday — that’s a long time for little guys to be trapped in a box! We rang up the USPS 800 number and our local post office this morning. The local post office offered to call us as soon as the truck got in — 4:30 AM — if we wanted. Better than waiting another four hours until they open. Luckily, the USPS folks in Akron were proactive about animal welfare and called me Saturday afternoon. He asked if we were expecting a shipment of live chicks. I said, “oh yeah; you’ve got our turkeys, turkey?” (because we all say turkey, turkey to each other all the time). He paused for a second to parse that out then said ‘yup’. He was concerned that the animals wouldn’t make it if they were sitting at his office for the rest of the day and all day Sunday. Did we want to come out there and pick them up? Yes! They’re even open 24/7. We wrapped up the work we were doing outside and drove right over. After I went into the distribution center and was directed to the chap who called, he called out “you here for your turkeys, turkey?” — always nice to come across goofy people.
Opening the box, we had two dead poults right off — one very dead, a second taking its last breaths. We got it a little liquid, but it was way too late. Between Saturday night and Sunday, most of the turkeys didn’t make it. We hand ‘fed’ them liquids to keep them hydrated, and we moved the less vigorous birds out of the brooder into a warm box so they wouldn’t get hurt by the ones that were walking around. The two slates and what I think was a Narragansett died too.
There’s a yellow poult that is still able to stand and open its eyes, but it’s quite weak. There’s a black one with a yellow head that’s doing well — it’s drinking on its own and venturing around the brooder pecking crumbles off the floor (and it’s found the food dish a few times too). I talked to the hatchery today because (1) the post office said that priority mail express is the only one with a guaranteed delivery time-frame and (2) there wasn’t any food in the box. Turns out there is a delivery guarantee for live animal express mail. So the post office did screw up (not that it helps). They also put cubes of gel nutrient stuff in the box because it’s consumed and doesn’t leave trash — there’s enough for the three days that it’s supposed to take to deliver your birds (also doesn’t help, but made me feel a lot better about doing business with the company). We also had a chat about expecting delays given the logistics changes at the post office — mail essentially gets put on the truck the day after it gets to each hop, and it takes a lot longer for delivery. If four or six day delivery is going to be the norm, they should be putting four or six days worth of food cubes into the box!