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Saddle up!

Hank's favorite toy: a stick

Here is Hank at play. When working, one of his jobs is to keep peace. Roosters fight, turkeys fight, turkeys fight roosters. It’s Hank’s job to *gently* break these fights up. Sometimes he is not so gentle. One day last month he broke up a fight between a turkey hen and a rooster and the turkey hen received a large slash on her side as a result.

Turkeys at the door

I brought her inside to the basement to assess the damage. Here are her friends waiting to hear the news at the front door. A flap of skin was completely torn away from her side under her wing, leaving muscle and more exposed. It really didn’t look good and it was beyond my ability to fix. It was a Sunday and I waited to call Cornell until the next day. The hen was active and eating and except for the skin flap hanging down, you’d be hardpressed to realize she was injured.
Cornell agreed to work on her and she was cleaned out and stitched up in no time. Hat’s off to them!

How to keep a turkey from picking her wounds

She had stitches and a draining tube in her side. If you know turkeys, you know they love to pick at things – rings, watches, rivets on jeans, buttons…stitches in flesh…etc. It was important to keep her from picking her wounds. So I cut a little hole in a paper plate and wrestled to put it on her. It worked great. She stayed in the basement a few days until I removed the draining tube. Her wound was healing wonderfully!

Pebbles, the basement turkey, laid her first egg

I put her back outside with everyone, unaware that my little girl had grown up. By the end of the day, her wound was re-opened by the sharp toe nails of amorous toms. I brought her back in, cleaned her up and watched her wounds. Meanwhile she laid an egg a day.
I was at a loss about what to do next. She couldn’t stay in the basement forever. It was too cold outside to even keep her in a dog kennel in the barn. Then I remembered reading about turkey saddles.

Yes turkey saddles! Google is a wonderful thing and hooked me up with Marion in Arkansas who was eager to help us out. (Note – I am not a sewer!) I opted for a plain saddle for Pebbles the turkey hen.


The saddle arrived yesterday and with a quick alter to make it fit snugger, Pebbles was good to go! And what a nice day she has had outside! Of course, the toms *ahem* greeted her right off and she was all too happy to oblige. She then explored everywhere and even bullied a few roosters. Hank didn’t notice.

Pebbles takes a dust bath

She even took a dust bath.

Turkey saddle

One more picture to show off that saddle. It really does the trick! If you look closer (you ca click on any picture to make it larger) you can see some extra feathers on her right side hanging down. That is the skin flap.


Murphy approves.

Posted in Poultry. Tagged with , , .

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  1. Mo, PERFECT timing on this post!! Thank you! =) Love the paper plate idea too!

    Hope you’re well!

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