Originally Posted by Aozora
I'm receiving 4 Royal Palm and 4 Blue Slate turkeys from a hatchery in April, and I'm building and planning now, so I wanted to ask the experts so I can tailor their care to my particular situation. Ideally, I'd like a trio of each, but if the sex ratios end up with only a pair I'll be okay with that.
My main goal in having turkeys is interactive yard candy, processing extra poults every year for grace the table. Therefore, keeping the breeds pure is not a concern and I might even benefit from hybrid vigor in crossed poults.
There are two main housing options: I have a 6'x6'x6' covered shed fenced with welded wire across the open sides. I can set that up as a nighttime roost and keep food and water there to encourage them to use it. This would be secure and keep them protected from predators at night, and they would then free range my property (about 2 acres cleared, and an acre forested) during the day. I do have chickens as well and I free range them, but they free range on a more limited basis (only a few hours a day).
The other option is an acre of fenced forest/scrubland. The fence is 4' high and topped with an electric wire. I would not mind trimming wing feathers so that they could not fly out. My goats range in this area, so I would need to build a creep feeder for the turkeys to keep the goats from making themselves sick off of the feed. There is a covered shed where they could get out of the weather, and enough trees for cover.
Which would be the better option for a flock of approximately 6 birds? I would want to keep a tom of each breed for their beauty--would the sex ratio be acceptable with 3-4 hens and 2 toms?
Also, I have beehives. Will my turkeys prey on the bees? Should I fence off the hives to help protect the girls?
I want to make sure I do this right--thank you for your help!
A 6'x6'x6' shed is awfully small for 6 adult turkeys. Open area is better for turkeys than forested although a combination of both isn't bad. The problem with a forested area is the number of predators that reside there.
Turkeys do well without a shed as long as they have a sheltered area to roost. By sheltered, meaning out of the wind. They do like and need a shaded place where they can get out of bright sunlight. I have a roofed area with a wall on the south side as a shaded place for my turkeys. They will even use this to get out of a downpour.
One tom to 4 or 5 hens is a good ratio. I would not keep 2 toms with 2 or 3 hens. It can lead to low fertility and injured hens.
I have crossed Blue Slates with Royal Palms and have found the offspring to get bigger at an earlier age than either of the parent varieties. They got much larger than the Royal Palms.
I have my turkey area fenced with a 6' tall 2"x4" welded wire fence. Because there is no top rail they are never tempted to fly onto the top of the fence even though they could clear it easily. I have found that if having a problem with turkeys flying up onto places they should not, clipping one wing can be helpful. It seems that by the time they molt and the feathers grow back that they forget that they can fly.
Other than eating dead bees from in front of the hives, my turkeys do not bother my bees.