I have a turkey that I dont know if it is injuried or sick. I quarantined him just incase. He is 3 months old and I just noticed today he walks very little and strangely compared to the other turkey(kind of stiff, and jerky). He walks a few steps then looks to fall backward then sits on his vent with his feet raised off the ground. He eats from this position, when its time for him to move he takes a few steps forward, then a couple falling back into his sitting position. He seems bright and is eating and drinking. I did not see anything that looked unusual on his feet or legs but will keep checking. I am new to turkey and don't know if this might be a common ailment or I need to keep looking for injuries. Thanks for reading. Mike
That is NOT normal. Something is definitely wrong. Is he weak? He may be malnutritioned for some reason. Was he attacked in any way? What are you feeding him? Any other symptoms?
Edited by chickenannie - 10/20/09 at 5:16pm
I see you are in SE PA, I am in Sinking Springs near Reading.
I don't think he was attacked the 4 turkey are all enclosed in a movable tractor. He eats very well I move them one or two times a day they eat a lot of grass and free choice scratch. He seems very bright and alert, is the same size as the others, greets me looking for food and bites my fingers when I move the tractor like the others. He just is always sitting and only takes a few step if he needs to move. After moving it almost seems like he is drunk, he looks as if he losses balance takes a couple stumbling steps back as he lowers himself into a sitting position.(I don't think it is a balance issue the behavior just sort of looks like that) In this position he has his weight far enough toward his vent that he sometimes lifts his feet a couple inches off the ground. I did notice some trembling of his feet in this position, could be the strain of holding them up. When he walks, his steps are not smooth like the other turkey the best way I can describe his gate in like the dinosaurs in the old movies.
Today he seems no better or no worse. I inspected him again and found no signs of injury.
What variety of turkeys are these, broad breasted? Do they get any time out of the tractor?
As you describe the affected turk as being otherwise, apparently, healthy below are some other potential causes to consider:
3. Predisposing factors that affect walking ability in poultry
Several factors cause changes in normal walking patterns in turkeys and broilers:
- Changes in body conformation caused by genetic selection for fast-growth and broad
- Hypothyroidism observed in birds selected for fast growth and lower physical
- Increased developmental fluctuating asymmetry when facing environmental stress
- Modifications in tendon development due to lack of exercise, aging or nutrition
- Pain due to secondary osteoarthritis and other degenerative joint diseases
- Spinal cord injuries and vertebra deviations (kyphosis or scoliosis)
- Management factors such as lighting, stocking density, distance between feeders
and drinkers, and environmental conditions.
- Infections of joints by bacteria (Streptococcus, E. coli, Salmonella),
mycoplasmas, and tendon infections with reovirus, that although are not reported
in turkeys, may happen.
From: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/poulsci/conference_proceedings/nutrition_conference/2007/oviedo_2007.pdf (pretty good reference to keep on hand).
Keep us posted and good luck!
Edited by ivan3 - 10/20/09 at 11:06pm
I am about half an hour from Reading, so not too far from you.
This is still very unusual turkey behavior -- clearly there is something wrong, as you noted, though whether it's genetic, or dietary or illness is hard to determine.
What breed is your turkey? If they are Broad-Breasted, then they may be predisposed to having leg issues.
How much space do they have inside the tractor, especially now that they are growing? Or could the tractor be pinching/hitting it's feet when it's moved?
I'm wondering if the scratch is providing enough protein and nutrition for them -- this could be causing week and unsteady legs. It may have been a problem for a little while and just now becoming visible. Turkey's nutrition needs change as they get older. Turkeys need 26-28% protein from hatch until 8 weeks (I feed mine 26% unmedicated game starter), then after that a bit less protein.
What is in your scratch? I don't know much about scratch since I feed my turkeys a farmer made mix after 8 weeks that has protein plus minerals and vitamins and probiotics. The grass and bugs they'll be eating from being moved around in your tractor daily is great and healthy for them, but at this time of year the bugs are significantly diminished (as a protein source) and they will only get something like 25-35% of their food needs met through foraging, and less than that as the fall/winer season approach. The cold is so hard on birds, too, at that age. I supplement mine with black oil sunflower seeds when the weather gets cold just to give them a little extra oomph to get through the adjustment (though if you are trying to be economical, sunflower seeds are not).
I wonder if you shouldn't try some emergency high-nutrition diet on this turkey -- hard boil some eggs and feed them to him right away daily. You could also buy some gamebird "grower" I think it is. I don't like turkey grower because it's always medicated and I don't like medication in my birds' feed. Ivan and Steve may have better suggestions for nutrition that what I wrote here.
Let us know what happens.
Edited by chickenannie - 10/21/09 at 5:20pm
Thanks to both of you for all the input.
I sat and watch the turkeys today especially the one with the problem and he is doing alot better. I will keep watching. He stayed standing while eating and walking around and at time seems to step back like he has been doing but stayed up, before the steps back brought right down to the ground. He still moves his legs different than the others but is walking in the right posture not with his head down as much as before.
Maybe I just caught him while moving the tractor, however, it is very light. It has no frame and is heavy gauge fencing wired together in an open bottom box. I am not exactly sure but guess its about 4 feet wide and 10 feet long, and I also try to get them out daily or atleast every other day to wonder a bit.
I am not sure what is in the scratch, but had started giving them some of the hens' lay also for more protein.
As far as breed they are white and large, thats all I know. I got them from a little meat market that has their own farm so I didn't have to get 25 at a time. Anyway they just had white turkeys that they said can get up to 40 lbs if you let them.
For meat chickens I have raised the cornish crosses and have seen the rapid growth and leg problems and with the turkey looking improved I am thinking maybe it is something along those line as you both mentioned. A combination of weak legs, rapid growth and maybe catching his foot as I moved the tractor.
Anyway I thank you both for your input and I will keep watching him and if there is any major shift either way I will update you.
Thanks again Mike