Turkeys will peck at anything.
A turkey is very curious. In fact, I remember the first time Tim, our photographer, asked one of the turkey growers to let his toddler walk with the turkeys. Jonas hesitated, and said something of the like to "it should be ok."
With the hesitation in his voice, Tim asked Jonas what he meant by "should." Jonas explained that turkeys like to peck at shiny objects. Tim was thinking the shiny buttons on Otto's yellow jacket; Jonas casually answered, "no, his eyes are about the right height."
Well, I'm glad to say Otto won't be going as a natural pirate this Halloween. His eyes are fine, but the point was made. Turkeys are curious, and they do peck at a lot.
But what about the driveway.
Turkeys have a specific reason for pecking at the stones in the driveway. Turkeys don't have teeth. Instead, they have a muscle called a crop. It's a small sack in the esophagus where they store their food before swallowing. In the crop, pebbles help to pulverize the food before it goes to the stomach.
On the farm, we actually provide them a lot of what is called "grit" - a ground up granite that is sized accordingly for their age. When very young, they get very small grit. As they get older, the grit increase all the way up to about a quarter inch in size.
In a confined turkey feeding operation, the grit isn't the important. The milled feed goes down OK without it. But out on pasture where they are picking at seeds, plant vegetation, and our kitchen scraps, the grit is especially important to help them digest this food.
Right now, as we are feeding between 4,000 and 6,000 lbs of feed per week, we are using almost 500# of grit.