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Turkeys 101 - New To Turkeys (What Do I Need To Know?)

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
In this thread, you will find a compilation of information from different sites about different topics. A lot of info comes from our own BYC friends. You will find a lot of threads copied and pasted in this thread so you won't have to look all over BYC to find what you need. Thanks to them, we are able to have this thread because of the wealth of information that they have posted so that the info will help all of us turkey owners.

Before getting turkeys, make sure you know what type of turkey you want to get. You will need to decide if you want a turkey for food or if you want a turkey for a pet, to roam the yard, to breed and sell or even perhaps again to eat in the future. BYC turkey lovers can also help you decide what breed turkey you want. Regardless of your reasons for wanting turkeys, there are a few things that you will need to know about turkeys before your turkeys arrive at their new home. Please keep in mind that you will need to know if your area has predators (ground and/or air) or not. This will determine if your turkeys will need to be housed in a secured pen with over head netting, allowed to free range or whatever the case may be.

You will want to contact your local Ag department to ask them about Blackhead and to see if Blackhead is popular in your area. The answer to that question will determine if you want to house your poults/turkeys with your chicks/chickens.
What is Blackhead? I have provided a few links below to help you understand.
http://www.millerhatcheries.com/information/diseases/blackhead_disease.htm
http://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/1858/parasite-management-for-natural-and-organic-poultry-blackhead-in-turkeys-part-2
http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/blackhead/

If you are getting poults (just hatched or older) from someone, you will want to practice bio-security and quarantine the purchased birds away from your birds. Be mindful of diseases bought in from other places. If your birds are being shipped from a reputable, well known hatchery, you won't have to worry about bio-security. Your poults are assumed to "safe" to be put around your other birds.

If you are getting poults from the hatchery, they may arrive dead or weak or they may be in perfect condition. In the event they are weak, you will want to immediately get them in a warm place and get some fluids/electrolytes/ or sugar/water combination in them. Make sure that you are prepared in advance for their arrival. DO NOT have to run out to the feed store to get what you need. You should know in advance when your poults will be arriving. So, that means their brooder should be ready. All you will need to do is get the water and feed ready if it's not ready already. big_smile.png

Housing your poults
Poults grow fast so if your brooder is small, you will need to think about getting them into a bigger brooder within months. A brooder can be whatever you want. Some people use large cardboard boxes, wooden shipping crates, plastic storage containers, or anything else that will keep them safe and secure. Your poults will need a heat lamp so that they can keep warm. Your new poults will require about 95 degrees temps but could be less. The temp requirement will decrease as they get older. It depends on your poults. A thermometer is a great investment so that you can determine the temps in the brooders. Your poults will tell you if they are hot or cold. Cold poults will be huddled together in a pack. They are trying to get and stay warm. Hot poults will be far away from the heat lamp. Comfortable poults will be spread about nicely sleeping like little angels.

Link about Poult/Turkey Brooding
http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/PDFpubs/2187.pdf

http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/raising-turkey-poults.aspx#axzz2UhnXvq8o

**NOTE: If you ever wonder about mixing different aged poults, you should never mix poults that are more than 2 weeks apart of age. This is a bad idea.***


Bedding for Brooders
A lot of people use chips/shavings for bedding. Be careful of the type of "chips" that you use for bedding. The wrong chips could lead to sneezing and other problems for your poults.

BYC Link About Dangerous Shavings
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/655822/pine-and-cedar-shavings-are-dangerous

You can also use paper towels, old towels, old sheets. Make sure that their are no loose strings in the towels or sheets. A poult is curious and if he gets a hold to a lose string, he could swallow it or get it wrapped around it's leg or it's neck and that could lead to problems or death. I would stay away from newspaper because newspaper is slippery and you don't want your poults slipping and sliding on the newspaper and then creating splay lay problems. So you want good flooring for your poults. Some people put their poults on wire floor. That will be your personal choice. Just be careful that having poults on wire all the time may cause problems with toes (personal experiences).

Poultry Podiatry Problems
https://sites.google.com/a/poultrypedia.com/poultrypedia/poultry-podiatry

If you have an outside brooder and they will be on the ground with mama, you may want to think about a sand bedding. If the bedding/ground is soil that has been walked on and pooped on by other animals that may have had infected poop, you will want to make sure that you use lime and/or DE in the soil to make sure that you kill anything that could be in the soil that could kill the babies. Remember that they are still young and it takes a while for their immune system to build up to fight against diseases.



Never allow the Tom to be with the Hen and babies. The Tom may kill the babies. BEWARE! If there is no Tom around and your poults are only in with the mom, and you are finding them dead, it is possible that your hen is accidentally stepping on them and killing them or she may be killing them herself. Some hens are just not good mothers. You will have to monitor this closely. If you suspect that your hen is killing her babies, you will want to IMMEDIATELY remove her babies to a safe brooder away from her.

Feeding Practices
I'm a personal fan of starting my poults on 30% protein but I do know that a high protein feed like 30% may not be available in your area. Poults need a higher protein feed than chicks do. Your poults will be ok on lower protein feed but they may not put on as much weight as you would like if they are on a lower protein. I personally would not feed my poults anything lower than 20% protein. If you are housing poults with chicks, chicks can eat a higher protein feed occasionally but 30% is just too high for chicks to eat every day (in my opinion). From personal experience, your chicks will end up to be HUGE chickens. So you may want to decide upon a happy medium in terms of what percentage you will feed both birds (poults and chicks) if they are to be housed together. You can always throw in a boiled egg to help boost the protein a little. VERY small pieces fresh fruits and veggies are also good for them to eat. They will also have fun running around the brooder playing "get away with the food" from their brooder-mates.

Most people leave feed available 24/7 for their poults. Your birds are growing birds and will probably eat when they are hungry, so it would be great if their feeder was always full. And of course, they should have access to a safe waterer all day/every day. NOTE: DO NOT give your new born poults COLD WATER. Make sure that their water is at room temp. As they get older, the cooler water is ok.

NOTE: If you notice that your poults are dieing day in and day out, you may want to make sure that your poults are eating. Don't assume that your poults are eating. You will need to actually SEE them eating and drinking. If not, it is possible that your poult died from starvation. Sad but true.

According to Storey’s Guide to Raising Turkeys, 3rd Edition http://www.storey.com/book_detail.php?isbn=9781612121499,
Quote:
"The number one killer of poults in the first 3 days is dehydration. The best prevention is to simply dip each poult's bill in the water as you place it into the brooder area. In this way, a large number of poults will learn to drink and will teach most of the rest. Check the poults every few hours for the first 3 days. Any that seem sluggish should have their bills dipped in water to make sure that they are drinking."


If you ARE seeing that your poults are eating and still dieing, you may want to look at problems with temps, surroundings (bedding, chemicals/poison present) and possible diseases. You may also want to check the expiration date on your feed to make sure that the feed is not expired, spoiled or molded. Check the bottom and/or middle of your feed bag and see if your brown crumbles have a greenish/grey color tint to it. If so, the feed is molded and has probably already killed your poults or will kill your poults. If this is the case, you need to IMMEDIATELY remove any feed from their feeders. Clean out their brooder and make sure that no feed has remained on the brooder floor. Contact the place where you purchased the feed to let them know and to request a refund. You will have to replace your feed. If your poults have been ingested molded feed you will need to get this mixture ready and available for them to drink (1/4 cup of molasses with 1 gallon of water). This should help the molded feed problem. You may also want to try activated charcoal. This can be found at a health food store. They sell it in gelatin capsules. You will need to make about 1/2 cup of mash which would be oatmeal or cream of wheat. You must open 4 activated charcoal capsules and mix into the feed. If your poults are too weak to eat, you will need to feed them VERY SLOWLY with a syringe or eyedropper, so that they do not choke.

You may wonder how long should you keep your poults on a high protein feed and when should you lower the protein. That is a personal choice. I like to keep mine on high protein at all times as they are growing. The high protein will not kill them. But if they will be running with a free ranging with chickens, you will have to decrease the protein level to accommodate your chickens.
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FEEDING "TREATS" TO POULTS:
As a new poult owner, you may want to feed "treats" to your poults. Most people want to give their turkeys worms from the yard. I caution you about feeding worms (earthworms) to poults. Worms carry parasites which in turn can kill your poults. If you want to feed treats, you may try feeding them fresh fruits and veggies cut up into small pieces. You may also try giving them a boiled egg and yogurt.

If you feed worms to your poults, you may be posting the next day asking for help because you have a sick poult or your poults or dieing. hmm.png Take my advice and do not let them get a hold to an earthworm . This is coming from an experienced bird owner who had a pea fowl that was 3 months old and died. Necropsy from LSU Vet Medical School indicated that my pea DIED from ingesting an earthworm that was infected with parasites. BEWARE - A lesson learned
***********************************************************************************************************************

Waterers and Feeders
DO NOT put deep water dishes in with your poults. They can slip in and drown. If your poult gets wet and does not warm up quickly, it can die. You can put marbles in your shallow waterers for them to drink. The marbles will also help them to drink if they are alone with no other chicks or mama is not there to teach them to eat. You can also place marbles in their feeder or put their feed on aluminum foil so that they can see the reflection of the foil and peck the food. This will teach them how to eat. If there are no cases of Blackhead in your area that you know about, you can brood a few chicks with turkeys. The chicks will teach them to eat. You can also use egg flats and put the feed in the flats and the poults will eat the feed that way. Whatever you do, DO NOT brood poults with waterfowl. This will be a disaster.

Here is a link to the thread of how I set up my waterers and feeders for my poults.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/512320/how-do-i-get-the-poults-to-eat/10


Here are additional pics of what it looks like, set up different ways with different groups of birds, including a pea chick.
Poult.3.29.jpg
Poults Eating.jpg
Pea Chick 001.jpg



Other Turkey Housing Links:
http://www.albc-usa.org/documents/turkeymanual/ALBCturkey-6.pdf

So, you may ask, when are my poults ready to go outside? Well, some people don't let their turkeys touch the ground until they are 5 - 6 months. In many cases, this is not an option and people have to move their turkeys out. The link below explains why some people do not let their poults touch the ground before a certain age.
Quote:
Explanation about keeping them off of the ground.

Here is an excellent article about hatching and raising poults, (to help explain keeping them off of the ground).
http://www.motherearthnews.com/The-Happy-Homesteader/Raising-Turkey-Poults.aspx#axzz2PPXfAIrB
Quote:
Natural Hatching Tips

It’s best to have your hen sit in a secure area. Many times the hens will seek a quiet place to make a nest, such as a bush or brush pile, which makes them easy targets for predators, especially at night. After the hen hatches her brood, we move them all to a “maternity” pen for at least the first two months. The maternity area is covered to keep out the rain, plus it keeps the hen and her poults in a smaller area and closer together. We always put a fresh layer of sand down for each group to help prevent soil-borne diseases. Coccidiosis can be a major problem for poults raised on the ground if other poultry has occupied the area before.


More tips on these threads..
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/761082/questions-for-experienced-turkey-enthusiast
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/786984/i-over-did-it-need-help-feeling-in-over-my-head#post_11308446
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/92240/give-me-the-dirt-on-turkeys

******************************************************************************************************************

Sick Poults/Turkeys:
When you have problems with sick poults/turkeys, please refer to this link when posting questions asking for help. It is alwasy a great idea to search BYC to see if the answer to your problem/question has already been posted.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/781635/tips-to-help-you-when-posting-questions-about-your-poult-or-turkey

If you experience your poult flipping over and cannot get it to walk without flipping over, please go to this thread for help.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/352474/turkey-poults-flip-over-syndrome-f-o-s-my-experience-and-what-i-did

A Few Turkey Diseases

Aspergillosis (Brooder Pnenmonia)
Aspergillosis is an environmental disease that is prevented through good management. The symptoms include the following:
*The birds stop eating
*Breathing may be rapid
*The birds may gasp and have labored breathing
*Eyes may be inflamed
*Eyelids may swell and stick together
This disease is caused by a fungus that is inhaled by the birds and usually comes from moldy litter or feed. If your poults have aspergillosis you need to thoroughly clean all buildings and equipment, removing all fecal materiel and plant matter, such as straw. Replace bedding with pine shavings. Infected birds will not get better but generally are not contagious to others.
(Information above can be found in Storey’s Guide to Raising Turkeys, 3rd Edition http://www.storey.com/book_detail.php?isbn=9781612121499) This is a must read book.

Erysipelas
Erysipelas, which means red skin, is caused by the bacterium Erysipelo-thrix insidiosa. The signs are swollen snods, bluish purple ares on the skin, congestion of the liver and spleen, listlessness, swollen joints and yellow-green diarrhea. Erysipelas is primarily a disease of Tomes because the organism readily enters through wounds cased by fighting. Since the snood is frequently injured when toms fight, this is a common site for Erysipelas infection. It is a soil-borne disease and contaminated premises are the primary source of infection. Penicillin and Tetracycline is an effective drug. Consult your vet for treatment.
(Information above can be found in Storey’s Guide to Raising Turkeys, 3rd Edition http://www.storey.com/book_detail.php?isbn=9781612121499) This is a must read book.

Fowl Cholera
Turkeys become sick rapidly and may die suddenly without showing signs. When signs do appear, they include listlessness, fever, excessive consumption of water, diarrhea, swelling of the head, face and sinuses. Treatment is Chlortetracycline.
(Information above can be found in Storey’s Guide to Raising Turkeys, 3rd Edition http://www.storey.com/book_detail.php?isbn=9781612121499) This is a must read book.

*********************************************************************************************************************
Partial Medical Emergency Kit For Poults
1. Dropper
2. Syringe with no needle
3. Baby food
4. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
5. Poly-Vi-Sol Children's Liquid Vitamins WITHOUT IRON

6. Yogurt
*At any time your poult may appear to be weak or lethargic. You can provide ACV mixed with water and put in a PLASTIC (NOT METAL) waterer or drip the mixture down their throats. You can also do the same with the Poly-Vi-Sol liquid vitamins. And you can also provide yogurt for them to take.

*********************************************************************************************************************
LONELY POULTS OR BORED POULTS - If your poults make constant chirping noise non-stop, they may be lonely. Please read below what fellow BYC'ers have done to help with this problem:
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/789715/single-poult-what-to-do
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/778331/turkey-poults-love-the-mirror-cute
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/780943/red-bourbon-baby-turkey

Feather picking is usually a result of boredom. You can hang a few bones or sticks on strings, just high enough for the birds to reach and it can satisfy their natural pecking instinct. Bits of melon rind and cabbage can also be used. (Feather pecking is also a nutrition problem. Feed low in protein or amino acids can actually case feather pecking and cannibalism.)
(Information above can be found in Storey’s Guide to Raising Turkeys, 3rd Edition http://www.storey.com/book_detail.php?isbn=9781612121499) This is a must read book.
********************************************************************************************************************

Introducing your poults to your older birds/animals.
When introducing your older poults to your existing flock (if you decide to let them out in the chicken yard early), never just let them out and expect everything to be ok . You MUST monitor how the other birds/animals react and respond to your poults. Failure to do this may result in your older animals killing your poults.

You will also need to monitor predators (ground - dogs, cats, coyotes. fox, HUMANS, etc. air - hawks, owls, etc.) If you have a predator problem, you will want to keep your birds in a secure pen.

*********************************************************************************************************************
When your poults are old enough to go outside, you will have to determine their housing. You will also need to determine if you want to clip their wings or not. Clipped wings will keep them from flying over your fence. At the same time, they will not be able to fly away from any predators. This will be your decision. Most turkeys are great flyers and can easily clear a 5 foot fence (mine do). I strongly suggest that those who have predators have a secure building for their poults/turkeys to sleep in at night.

I don't have predators in my area. My turkeys enjoy a view from the pecan tree.



**********************************************************************************************************************
Laying Season:
Depending upon where you live, your turkeys may begin laying eggs earlier or later than other turkey owners. Some hens can start as early as November and others may start as late as May. Don't panic if your hen has not started laying eggs. She may be a late layer or she may be hiding her nest from you. wink.png Happy Hunting!

Whatever the case, be on the look out for eggs. You may want to team up with turkey owners in your area/state/city to find out when their hens lay eggs, so that you will have an idea when your hens will start laying eggs. Remember that it takes 28 days for turkey eggs to hatch. Some eggs hatch early and some eggs hatch late. Make sure that you mark your calendar so you will know when hatch day is.

If you have a broody hen, you will want to make sure that she is in a safe location. If you feel that your hen is in an unsafe location, you need to think about moving her to a secured location. Leaving a hen in an open field will warrant predators that will kill her and destroy the eggs. If you decide to move her, it will be best to move her and her eggs at night, so to now disturb her. Some hens are feisty and will rip your eyes out if you touch them and others are very gentle. Good luck with that. If you decide NOT to move hour hen in a particular location and you find her injured or dead and she is not able to hatch out the eggs, you will need to try to save her eggs by putting them in an incubator or under a brooder hen (chicken) if you have one that is broody at that time. If you feel that your hen is in a secure location but you want to "make" a secure area around her, please feel free to be creative.

This is my creative design "old washing machine shell" that I used to secure my hen when I found her nesting in my neighbor's yard. It's not pretty but it secured her during her nesting period.

Mouse Trap 006.jpg
Mouse Trap 008.jpg
Mouse Trap 019.jpg
Turkey Camouflage8.jpg
Turkey Camouflage7.jpg
Turkey Camouflage9.jpg
Turkey Camouflage4.jpg
Turkey Camouflage1.jpg
Turkey Camouflage2.jpg
Turkey Camouflage3.jpg
Turkey Camouflage5.jpg
Turkey Camouflage6.jpg
875849274


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Sexing Turkeys—Toms vs. Hens
http://fithfath.com/farm/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Sexing-turkeys-toms-vs.-hens.pdf
**************************************************************************************************************************************

POOP CHART
If you are concerened about your poult's or turkey's poop, please look at the pics on this link to see if you can find a pic of a poop that best resembles your bird's poop.
http://pluckandfeather.com/chicken-poo-chart-graphic.html


KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HENS AND GOBBLERS:


If anyone has any questions that have not been addressed, please post your question(s) and I will include it in this post. If anyone would like to contribute to this thread, please feel free to. The more information we have in 1 thread, the easier it will be for newbies or new turkey owners to find the information that we need.

In the event the information is not listed in this thread, please do a search to see if your questions have already been asked and answered on BYC.

Good luck and have fun with your new Poults/Turkeys.
Edited by kuntrygirl - 7/10/13 at 7:31am
NPIP Certified -115 Chickens, 19 Geese, 19 BR Turkeys, 7 Rabbits, 120 Muscovy Ducks , 9 Guineas, 9 Peafowl, 8 sheep, 1 Goat and currently have 100 broilers to be processed March 2014.  And it's broody/hatching season all over again for 2014.
Reply
NPIP Certified -115 Chickens, 19 Geese, 19 BR Turkeys, 7 Rabbits, 120 Muscovy Ducks , 9 Guineas, 9 Peafowl, 8 sheep, 1 Goat and currently have 100 broilers to be processed March 2014.  And it's broody/hatching season all over again for 2014.
Reply
post #2 of 38

This is awesome! Thanks for the info!!

post #3 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by abmaddox1981 View Post

This is awesome! Thanks for the info!!

You are welcome. I hope that this can help everyone who has questions.
NPIP Certified -115 Chickens, 19 Geese, 19 BR Turkeys, 7 Rabbits, 120 Muscovy Ducks , 9 Guineas, 9 Peafowl, 8 sheep, 1 Goat and currently have 100 broilers to be processed March 2014.  And it's broody/hatching season all over again for 2014.
Reply
NPIP Certified -115 Chickens, 19 Geese, 19 BR Turkeys, 7 Rabbits, 120 Muscovy Ducks , 9 Guineas, 9 Peafowl, 8 sheep, 1 Goat and currently have 100 broilers to be processed March 2014.  And it's broody/hatching season all over again for 2014.
Reply
post #4 of 38

I want to thank you for this great and informative post! You have given me just about all I need to now about turkeys! celebrate.gifI really appreciate all this information and am very excited to being a turkey person. I reaaly love my birds as I love all my animals. They make life worth living!!

post #5 of 38

Love this thread!

Loving my poultry. Have Guineas as well!

Reply

Loving my poultry. Have Guineas as well!

Reply
post #6 of 38

Thank you kuntrygirl! This is a must read thread if you have turkeys or are thinking about having them.

4 Black Australorps, 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes, 2 Easter Eggers, 6 Red Stars, 2 Bourbon Red Turkeys (a breeding pair) and 1 10 year old Parakeet.

1 Long Hair Dachshund and 2 Pomeranians.

 

 

Reply

4 Black Australorps, 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes, 2 Easter Eggers, 6 Red Stars, 2 Bourbon Red Turkeys (a breeding pair) and 1 10 year old Parakeet.

1 Long Hair Dachshund and 2 Pomeranians.

 

 

Reply
post #7 of 38

My turkeys are supposed to get here end of next week,they delayed my first shipping date.Thanks for the effort you put into this thread!

post #8 of 38

So what, exactly, is the reasoning behind not putting them on the ground? I ask because my brooders and everything are outside.

Loving my poultry. Have Guineas as well!

Reply

Loving my poultry. Have Guineas as well!

Reply
post #9 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by furbabymum View Post

So what, exactly, is the reasoning behind not putting them on the ground? I ask because my brooders and everything are outside.

Quote:
So, you may ask, when are my poults ready to go outside? Well, some people don't let their turkeys touch the ground until they are 5 - 6 months. In many cases, this is not an option and people have to move their turkeys out. The link below explains why some people do not let their poults touch the ground before a certain age.
Quote:
Explanation about keeping them off of the ground.

Here is an excellent article about hatching and raising poults, (to help explain keeping them off of the ground).
http://www.motherearthnews.com/The-Happy-Homesteader/Raising-Turkey-Poults.aspx#axzz2PPXfAIrB
Quote:
Natural Hatching Tips

It’s best to have your hen sit in a secure area. Many times the hens will seek a quiet place to make a nest, such as a bush or brush pile, which makes them easy targets for predators, especially at night. After the hen hatches her brood, we move them all to a “maternity” pen for at least the first two months. The maternity area is covered to keep out the rain, plus it keeps the hen and her poults in a smaller area and closer together. We always put a fresh layer of sand down for each group to help prevent soil-borne diseases. Coccidiosis can be a major problem for poults raised on the ground if other poultry has occupied the area before.
NPIP Certified -115 Chickens, 19 Geese, 19 BR Turkeys, 7 Rabbits, 120 Muscovy Ducks , 9 Guineas, 9 Peafowl, 8 sheep, 1 Goat and currently have 100 broilers to be processed March 2014.  And it's broody/hatching season all over again for 2014.
Reply
NPIP Certified -115 Chickens, 19 Geese, 19 BR Turkeys, 7 Rabbits, 120 Muscovy Ducks , 9 Guineas, 9 Peafowl, 8 sheep, 1 Goat and currently have 100 broilers to be processed March 2014.  And it's broody/hatching season all over again for 2014.
Reply
post #10 of 38

kuntrygirl: Thank you so much for this very informative tread!  This is very helpful to me, I am bookmarking this thread to refer back to later. 

 

My 11 turkeys are now more than 10 weeks old and are doing fantastic!  You have been very helpful, Thanks Again!
 

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