Just pulled the trigger. Ill have turkeys next week. just got 2 toms and 2 hens. Time to study.
Decided to start off with broad breasted bronze. Raise them up. Sell 2 and eat 2. If I like raising turkeys Ill get some breeding stock like the Bourbon Red or the Narragansett.
Good for you, ButchGood!
We've raised BB whites and BB bronzes the last three years and they are pretty easy. I like to describe them as pigs with feathers. About all they need after they get fledged is food, water, and confinement to keep them from wandering off into trouble. And by confinement, we've kept 4 birds in 16 x 16 pen with a lean-to for shelter to finish them off. As young birds, we pretty much gave them the run of an acre of open ground. During the heat of the summer, they pretty much stayed in the shade of the house but in cloudy weather, they'd wander quite a bit. Heritage birds are a lot worse for wandering with the added "benefit" of the ability to fly. Even with one wing clipped, they'll go over a a 4' fence if they're really determined. BB birds not so much. They can barely walk when they fatten up.
As far as shelter, young birds need to be coddled for the first few weeks until they get their pin feathers and their heads are naked. I keep them indoors in the brooder for 2-3 weeks and then leave the light in the lean-to for another two weeks after setting them out. Keep in mind that we get our turkeys by the middle of April (will be picking up 12 next Thursday) and our last frost-free day here in Ohio is the first week or two of May. After the birds get their pin feathers, they're fine. I provide roosts for them for the first month or two, but take them away after that because once they get some size, it deforms the breast if they sleep on the roost instead of ground nest. Plus, it's too much trouble for the fat birds to fly up 4" to a roost. An alternative to ground nesting is a roosting platform (which I will be building this year since I have some pallets lying around to use). Since I'm adding Bourbon reds to the flock this year and want to winter over a trio, I'm going to be building something a little more substantial for them.
As for the best resource for general turkey information, I'd like to direct everyone to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy resources site. Here is their site for turkeys: http://www.albc-usa.org/EducationalResources/turkeys.html While it is geared toward heritage fowl, it has good useful general information. Probably the best on the web in a single place.