Egg Salad for Turkeys
When I returned to the farm a few years ago, I got back into raising livestock right away. I also started reading old books about what people used to feed their livestock before feed came conveniently pre-mixed and pre-packaged in 25kg bags. Among the interesting tidbits, I found some guidelines on raising young turkeys, which are notoriously tricky to raise from day-old birds, as they're prone to dying when conditions aren't perfect.
One book told about a simple recipe of hard-boiled eggs and green onions, with a few other ingredients. Having never fed poultry anything like that before, I cautiously tried it out on a batch of young turkeys. They picked away at the first dish of it that I gave to them, but the second dish -- Wow! I had to stand back, because they went crazy over it!! They dove right into it, chowing down the food as fast as possible, and fighting over the last bits! And, that's the way they continue to eat their egg salad. It feels good to serve food to such hearty appetites :)
I continued feeding them this mixture, and ended up with the strongest, healthiest batch of turkeys to date, with no mortalities. I told my grandmother about it - she had farmed all her life, and was still very interested in everything related to farming - and she said "Oh, yes, when I was growing up, we used to always give a mixture like that to our young turkeys and guinea chicks". I had never heard her talk about that before, and didn't even know to ask her about it!
[fuzzy photo because they eat their egg salad so fast!!!]
I've fed this mixture to all my turkeys (and ducks) since then with very good results. My current batch of turkeys are a week old, and are very alert, content, lively, healthy little birds. They know when their egg salad is coming, and start chirping loudly and mobbing the gate!
A note before the recipe: the old book I found this in did not have any amounts listed. I have no idea what the "ideal" proportions would be. The proportions below are roughly what I give my turkeys.
Also, I don't know what it is about turkeys and onions, but it's very obvious that turkeys LOVE onions. They will even eat them straight out of the garden when they're older!
4 hard-boiled eggs (they can be on the soft side of hard-boiled)
2 -3 green onions, including tops (or, the equivalent of storage onion, but green onions are preferable)
watercress and / or other greens that they like (gradually increase the amount of greens as they get older... I usually start out with just a couple Tablespoons, and work up the amount)
1/2 teaspoon (approximately) molasses
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cod liver oil (this is my addition to the recipe; I give it to them 3 - 5 times in their first couple weeks)
Finely chop the onions and greens, or whiz them up in a food processor
Add the eggs, mashing (or pulsing in the machine) until uniformly mixed
Drizzle the remaining ingredients over top, and stir to combine
Set the mixture out on plastic trays. I often use yogurt dish lids; something that can easily be rinsed to be used again and discarded in a couple weeks.
(I often boil up a 2 - 3 day supply of eggs at once, to simplify things)
- This can be given to turkeys as their first food, though I always make sure they have access to the bagged crumbles too.
- I've noticed that when I give them this mixture, my turkeys hardly touch touch their crumbles for the first few days. They treat that dish more like their litter box. Then, they start pecking away slowly at the crumbles, and by the time they are 8 days old, they start to eat more noticeable amounts of the crumbles. That's when I start to gradually reduce their egg salad.
- If this is first given to turkeys that are a few days old, it may take 3 - 5 attempts of feeding it to them before they will start to eat it. Just give them a small amount at a time until they start eating it ravenously.
- I don't know what the ideal feeding schedule would be... I give it to mine 3 times a day for their first week or so (if I'm around), then twice a day for a few more days, then once a day for a few more days, then every other day for a couple more doses of it. They will gladly keep eating it, but the egg supply and daily schedule usually dictate when to start cutting back!
- Since I'm not an expert on turkey nutrition, I can't tell you how many eggs per day to feed a given number of turkeys. I usually give them whatever they will clean up in 5 - 10 minutes. Twenty turkeys that are 1 week old will clean up the above mixture made with 2 eggs in less than 10 minutes. And then, after gorging on egg salad, they all go into a huddle and take a nap!
- Also, since I'm not an expert on turkey nutrition, the following is not a recommendation - it's just what I do. I buy chick grower, instead of turkey starter, and give that to them in addition to their egg salad. Turkey starter is much more expensive, and a lot higher in protein - but the egg salad gives them higher-quality protein along with good fats and myriad nutrients. My turkeys have done well with this combo, but that doesn't mean that I'm saying everyone should do this!
This egg salad also works well as food for new ducklings and guinea chicks. Chickens need a different mixture.
Have you tried anything like this before? What were your results?