Tour de Pallet Palace, aka Turkey Shanty Town, aka Why you Never Throw Anything Useful Away

About a month ago, we rather impulsively got baby turkeys. For the first week or so, they lived in a dog crate in the middle of our office. They were then upgraded to one of those giant boxes you see outside the market with watermelons in it. But last weekend, the turkeys were re-located outside to the enclosure they will reside in until the fall. From there, they will be relocated into the freezer or my belly.

Thus, introducing, The Pallet Palace, also known as Turkey Shanty Town.

turkey pen from pallets

This shanty structure embodies the pure definition of janky, one of my favorite words to describe the quality of many things.

pallet turkey pen

This is also an excellent example of why you should never throw something away. Built mainly from shipping pallets , we were able to extend the pen a bit farther by also including lattice (that we took from a friends trash pile almost a year ago, because I knew one day we would have a use for them!), and screened framed sections (originally pulled out of a dumpster, that we used to make a chicken pen at the apartment, and subsequently the disassembled and moved with us). Most of the slats on the pallets were spaced to far apart for these now-pigeion sized turkey chicks, so we stapled sheets of cardboard on the inside. The shade roof is comprised of scrap 2x4s (saved when we demoed the shed) which supports very thin sheets of ply-wood (which we pulled up from our kitchen floor in prep to lay hardwood), another piece of lattice, and a roll of that wired bamboo/strawlike fencing that easily falls apart (which appeared in the garage one day, I’m assuming from when Matt helped his mom move). The remainder of the open space is covered by pieced together sections of bird netting.

how to build with pallets

On the inside, they have a more enclosed space, created by throwing up a piece of scrap plywood saved from building the hen house. In this little nook, we have a heat lamp that we turn on at night, because I’m not sure if they are large enough quite yet to go without, and also to give them a refuse from the sun or possible wind.


One awesome feature of this pen is one of the screen panels that we pulled from our old chicken coop still had hinges on it, so it got attached to a pallet, added an eye & hook as a latch, and now we have a door! I’m very thankful we saved this piece in particular, because figuring out HOW to get into the pen was our biggest concern. We can’t stand up in the pen, but we certainly have easy access to fill the water and food.


If your concerned that our shanty town means our birds are living in squalor, fear not! They have constant access to water and food. They have green grass to eat, a place to dirt bath, and both a spot to sit in the sun or in the shade. I’ve tried tossing them greens from the garden and fallen apricots, but so far they are not impressed.

feeding turkeyThe location of this pen was intentional, aligned with our raised beds to the North end of the garden. I’m hoping their pecking and scratching will help eradicate some of the weeds while their poo fertilizes the ground, as this spot is the future raspberry patch. After this turkey adventure, if we decide that we can put up with their stupidity and want to continue raising them, we will build a more attractive, and much less janky structure. Until then, I’m going to assume it won’t rain until butchering time, and my turkeys will be as happy!

turkey, month old
Broad Breasted Bronze turkey, about one month old


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