I've had heritage turkeys on and off over the past ten years or so. We also raise a batch of broad breasted ones for the freezer each year. The heritage ones can make nice pets, and grow more slowly then the BB's. I've never been real successful at getting the heritage birds to hatch and raise their own babies, though I know other folks who have done better with them.
What do you want to know about them?
Diane, can I jump in and ask too??? pleaseeeeeee??? I will try to answer some of these, no cold hard facts here though, just my experiences with turkey.
What is the best breed for meat & friendly too? I have never had a mean turkey,,,I do mostly broad breasted,,,and had a pair of borbon reds that were very friendly...
Do they need a wire/mess covered run? depends, heritage breeds are hard to keep contained, broad breasted will fly when young but settle down as they put weight on.
Can they free range and go in coop at night?some of mine will roost with chickens some prefer tree's or other outside areas, free range is a gamble.
They can be in with chickens? I have always kept them with chickens, blackhead is not a very big problem in this area but still possible, although with the size of turkeys they can easily step on others.
Can you only have one male and female together? broad breasted i have kept lots together with no problems, the bourbon reds I had a trio of 2 toms and 1 hen, had to get rid of a tom due to fighting with each other.
anything different medically health wise? only thing i do differently is start them out on a high protein food, usually just 1 bag then swith to whatever the chicks of the same age are eating.
Feed? Is it cost effective? how much feed for just a pair? no, turkeys will eat the equivalent of 10 chickens, but so worth it for your own meat.
How long till you can butcher, and how hard is that? varies by breed, same principle as chickens just a whole lot bigger.
poop, how hard on the bedding are they? think cow patty with broad breasted, they are messy just like any other meat bird, heritage breeds not as much but still messier than chickens.
They scratch like chickens right? mine never did...no matter what breed,,, they seem to prefer to take things out of your hands instead and they are fast at it.
like I said no facts here just the things I have noticed with mine, i really would not recommend free ranging.. my bourbon reds liked to sleep in the tree's and just disappeared 1 night... hatching I find difficult, I can not hatch them with chicken eggs I always have to give them their own incubator...with a little higher humidity..h ousing i prefer to start them with chicks then seperate as they grow so much faster....
some breeds are still laying and i would start them now if you want heritage breeds for the summer, they can be tricky to get started but after about 6 weeks of age I have found them to be very hardy even with the weird weather we get around here...
hope this helps someone and if anyone hatches ...I would be in the market for some royal palms or calico.