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Newspaper Page Text
November 15, 1953 •. A aft! wmmmmm. ——' [ A 1 'i ,■ 'i HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF MONTANA HELENA ... I •• %k % ■ hf-'y. - ■ LjeuA 3-ami X) vnmri _ * BILL STELLMON _ ______ Roving Reporter ~ T AKE a SMALL farm, a milk cow or two, a small beef herd, a few chickens and other miscellany, place it all in the fertile Flathead country and it's likely about right for one man to handle. Then add 1,500 flighty, curious, expensive turkeys . . . and, mister, you'd better have a family to call on for help. That's one thing Tony Braig, Flathead County farmer, has found out about turkeys in .these last 15 years. And Mrs. Braig as well, since it is primarily she who is called on for that help. As a result, their birds are a family enter prise from brooder to cooler, with even the two young Braig sons pitching in time and again to keep turkeys—or Thanksgiving customers—satisfied. This is marketing time for half the Braigs' turkeys and, naturally, a time when family co-operative work is at its peak. But the work begins much earlier—in fact, that early labor is probably more important to profits than marketing itself, because a turkey poult seems often to have the irri tating conviction that it can not survive. On the Braig farm, turkey year starts May 1 when the 1,500 new poults are delivered and put in the brooder house. This building, 72 by 18 feet and built in six sections, is home for the rest of their lives. First, it is their brooder; later, with side-doors raised, it is their sunporch shelter; still later, broken into its six sections, it is their shelter on range. In their first days in the house, the poults are divided under six oil-burning brooders and given nearly constant attention. Within a week, however, they are given a pair of treatments that seemingly belie other care. First, the Braigs remove the last joint from one wing of each bird to stop flying; second, they burn off, electrically, about half of each turkey's upper beak. This helps cut down cannibalism among the turkeys and, the Braigs say, any thing that decreases the tendency of the birds to pick on each other decreases much of the normal loss in any flock. By the time the poults are a month old, the Braigs open the side doors of the brooder house and allow the birds free dom of the sunporch, a 72 by 20 foot raised area with screen W4M m to ■ âh * jk% % i. K«/. . N r Turkeys on range at Braig Turkey Farm, Flathead County. Houses in background have screened floors and are only protection for birds on range. The Braigs raise 1,500 tur keys a year, mixing larger breeds with, this year, 500 midget bronze. Curious birds, turkeys are also cannibalistic, so Braig removes part of beak when they are young, also throws few bales of hay into lot to provide them with picking material. Whenever injured bird is noticed, he goes into "hospital'' area, a fenced-off corner of this lot. (M F-S photos) % **» * I r jk&i T; w. W: , ../■ . . ii J V M »» ««-. — Six of these feeders, holding about 1.200 pounds of grain each, take care of feed needs of Tony Braig's turkeys. Waterers, visible in background, require hauling about 250 gallons of water a day. É; j ; |PI n k\ * Wk 1 , I K rw i i ,.v i p#.. * i Marketing time means day-long work for the four Braigs and three or more helpers. They start killing only about eight days before Thanksgiving or Christmas, selling toms at an average 25 pounds and hens at 15 or 16. Here, Mrs. Braig hangs a bird with others ready to go.