Like the chickens, ducks and geese, turkeys are poultry — domesticated birds that are farmed for meat, eggs, and sometimes feathers. Turkeys are mainly used for their meat, and we rear turkeys to sell at Christmas. The breeds currently kept here at Surrey Docks Farm are Bronzes and Whites.
Curious turkey terminology and appendages
Like most species of birds, the male is larger and more colourful than the female, and the male turkey in par- ticular is a very strange-looking creature. When trying to attract females, or when excited or agitated, it can change its appearance . It will display its snood, a long piece of skin which hangs right over its beak it can release or retract this in seconds, so watch carefully. The fleshy skin around its face and neck, called the wattle or caruncle, can change colour from blue to white to pink to bright red. It will strut and display its feathers, including the bristly black tuft on its chest, called a ’ beard’ — this is actually a modified feather, part of its ornamentation.
Female chickens are called hens, and males are called cockerels — they are larger and more colourful, but also more aggressive and noisy. You may see the chickens ‘bathing’ in soil or dust — they do this to clean their plumage and rid themselves of insect parasites. (Turkeys also do this, sometimes bathing in the ash of the outdoor oven!)
Chicken Eggs and Breeds Chicken Eggs and Breeds Chicken Eggs and Breeds We keep chickens for their eggs, to sell here at the farm — ask at the office to see what’s available. Our hens lay an average of 280 eggs a year each. Some are ‘rescue hens’ from chicken farms, no longer produc- tive enough for commercial egg-laying. The chickens with feathered legs are Brahmas, a breed originating from India. Others you may see here in – clude the red-brown Rhode Island Reds, the dark grey Speckledeys, the Light Sussex, which are white with black napes and tails, and brown barn hens.