Aggressive Toms

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Jaybo, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. Jaybo

    Jaybo Out Of The Brooder

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    So, on our farm we have Rio Grande turkeys - 2 Toms and 7 hens. The hens are no trouble. They hop the fence and range about, but they know where the food and shelter is and they come home in the evening. Same for the Toms, but there's an added facet to them - they have decided I'm a threat, so they crowd me when I go onto their turf. Started when I broke up a dominance fight between them, now the larger one tries to peck at me and his understudy backs him up. They're not smart enough to come at me from both sides, so they're easy to handle, but it's annoying. They haven't figured out that my opposeable thumbs allow me to grasp and hold things like turkey necks and hatchets. Is it possible to change this without an early Thanksgiving dinner?

    Ah, life on Green Acres.
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    I think they are likely from bad stock to begin with. I'm sorry, I don't think you can train it out of them and even if you could it would likely still breed on and merely give you more of the same. I've worked for years breeding aggression out of my turkeys and chickens, as well as other animals, and aggression is highly heritable. Best to cull in my opinion. I used to train bad behavior out of them but soon realized that stopping the behavior in the father or mother didn't stop either from passing it on for five or more generations in their offspring. I do not have the time of day or resources to train every single generation in the same ways. Far quicker to cull out negative behaviors and breed on good ones.

    I've had toms from breeders who never tolerated aggression in their animals, and if I broke up fights or matings the toms never even thought to attack me or take offense.

    I've also had toms from people who believed it was natural for all toms to attack whenever your back was turned. Many generations down the track, the human aggression kept resurfacing from that family line, despite me actively breeding against it and culling it whenever I saw it. I gave up eventually. Too many generations of that negative trait recurring. I have children also getting about the farmyard, I can't risk it. I'd also hate to breed and sell stock that will harm someone else. They'd start normal but sooner or later would react to a human's retreating back with violence. No provocation required, just acting on a mental glitch.

    I consider it a serious threat if a tom even turns his tail to face you while displaying. Either he is threatening you or is wooing you, and either way he's aberrant mentally. I've culled roosters and toms for giving the 'evil eye' to people, never mind letting it wait until they're attacking, because I've found that if that mentality is present at all, it will come out in him, or his offspring, guaranteed. It is only a matter of time. If that mental fault exists in the animal, it will be expressed sooner or later. Those who don't have the fault never express it under any circumstances.

    Personally I would cull these toms and get in new blood from someone who has an anti stance regarding the violent, neurotic, negative behavioral faults they may be encouraging in their stock, as well as an understanding of the potential impact of violent traits being bred on. Many people breed baby killers, hen killers, human aggressives, etc and never even stop to think of the threat to human life and limb their stock represents, never mind the stress and threat it places on other stock.

    This may sound like I'm condemning all people who breed violent stock as unethical or imperceptive, but I don't intend it that way; just meaning that when I source new breeding stock I pay about as much attention to the human breeder as I do to the animals since I've found that is where one finds the best indication of the mental health or lack thereof that the animals possess.

    What someone believes is good and healthy behavior is what they breed on. Some people believe violent animals are good and peaceful ones bad, so me buying from them is a waste of time, money and life.

    Bad breeders may show good type in their animals, but the animals themselves are riddled with faults. Again, they're only 'bad' because of the end effect on my stock, not because they're 'bad people' or anything like that... Hope this makes sense. The stock I won't tolerate are totally acceptable to many others so 'good' or 'bad' is only defined by what I expect of them. I look for a breeder whose philosophy closely matches my own, because someone with very different beliefs can set my stock backwards with the faults they propagate.

    But if you choose to not cull but prefer to try to work against it, I wish you all the best. There is always the exception to the rule. Best wishes.
     
  3. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    How old are these `toms'?
     
  4. Jaybo

    Jaybo Out Of The Brooder

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    We're not sure. We got them second-hand.
     
  5. oldtimeway

    oldtimeway Out Of The Brooder

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    I truly question the person claiming "bad stock" . What do they mean by this. Bad stock refers to their body type, coloring, etc. My assumption is you're happy with that and so they are not of "bad stock".

    I find it hilarious when people do not want their male birds to be aggressive and if they are it's "bad genetics". I would vote for the opposite. The little woosie birds that don't know they're males are the ones from bad stock. Nature made it that the male of the species be both more colorful, but more aggressive.

    This is the problem today be it in poultry or people. We have so many poor kids today on mind changing drugs like redelin because they are "so terribly active". Duh, it's called being a boy for crying out loud. Today we don't want little boys to be little boys, we want them to be wimps and then we expect the same in our livestock and poultry? They're just behaving as their creator intended them to. So, if they have good traits for the breed, keep them and learn to live with them. If you can't handle that or have little kids around that might get hurt from a Tom's attack, then lop off their heads. I've noticed the aggressive behavior is bad until they've mated and have little ones, but they tend to settle down again toward fall. As to how to train them, I don't know what you could do that won't be considered animal abuse.

    We had an old rooster when I was a kid that attacked everyone on the yard but me. One day he attacked my old granny when she was working in her flowers. She hollered and screamed like a banshie. Our old collie dog tore around the house and grabbed that cock by the tail and tore out all his tail feathers in one fell swoop. That old scoundrel never attacked anyone ever again. LOL
     
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  6. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    Reason I asked is that jakes are beginning to put out the testosterone by 8 months. They usually search out sparring partners (jakes practice quite a bit) within their species. However, sometimes any species (or just their own reflection on glass/polished door of car) will do. When they approach a large plastic rake comes in handy in the winter, a garden hose with a good spray head (concentrated stream) will sometimes work during the summer. Back them off and chase with rake until they are at some distance - then walk calmly away. Repeat as needed. It's not unlike training a rooster. The guys were sparring and you seemed (to the boys) to be joining the pecking order fray - they simply obliged your invite.

    As soon as they approach you and A. drop wings, B. stretch necks up perpendicular to body-beaks to the sky, C. gives out challenge whines/trills D (while strutting) chase them off with the rake until they run - then calmly go about your business as if they aren't there. This has to be done consistently. They'll learn their place in YOUR flock (you are the alpha turkey - like it or not). Also, work in some random `attacks', i.e., wait until they are foraging and paying no attention to you - then use the rake and make them run (reinforce your boss bird status) - just every so often...

    Turkeys are capable of a greater degree of `socialization' than are chickens.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
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  7. pv74

    pv74 Out Of The Brooder

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    I raised a hen and two toms (sweetgrass variety) through the spring and fall...
    When I first caught them neck wrestling, I called the breeder I bought them from..he told me that it's natural and to just let it happen.
    So I did, turned out that it wasn't a problem..every now and then they would get into a heated wrestling match, but they never really seemed to hurt each other.
    Around the age that they started neck wrestling, they would also crowd around me, puff there feathers and do the strut....protecting the hen I suppose.

    I culled one tom for christmas, so it's not an issue anymore.

    The turkeys also peck and grab shoelaces, rings, ect and fly up on people's back and arms...(heritage varieties are light enough to actually fly).
    I don't think they could actually physically harm me, the wife or the daughter...(they could possibly peck an eye if your not careful).
    Turkeys do seem to a be a bit more sociable than chickens and I seem to enjoy raising them more than I do chickens.
     
  8. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: If you truly, "truly question" that, read the post you took it from.... I explained what I meant by this. Thoroughly.

    "Bad stock" also refers to negative behavioral traits which are heritable. Anyone who only considers the 'type' is not really a good breeder either, by the commonly accepted definition, as there are many issues beyond 'type' which ought not be bred on with. Neurotic/negative social behaviors are one of those issues.
    Quote: After thousands of years of domestication, yes, it is bad stock that are human aggressive. When a bad trait is heritable, yes, it's bad genetics. Thankfully there are many good males to breed from which are not wantonly and unjustifiably violent.

    You may be interested to learn that excessive aggression is a trait proven to be linked to subfertile males. It's long been a belief in the cattle industry, upheld by anecdotal evidence, and a few years back it was officially proven. I find it is true across the species. Excessive aggression in males has always been, I believe, a breeding strategy of the sub-par male. I breed a few different species of animals and this has always held true in my experience as well as many other people's. I've always noticed the alpha males are calmer and the females seek them out, and they're always far more fertile than the 'angry boys'.

    I expect my males to fight among themselves, as do my females, because that's natural, and don't worry, they all know what gender they are. But at no point is human aggression anything else than a bad trait and often a symptom of a bad breeder in past. And it is heritable behavior. Excessive aggression to other flock members or infants is also a negative trait we bred into them. Under natural circumstances they can sort out differences in the majority of cases with a few pecks or kicks, no bloodshed. But the dumber they are, the more violent they are, generally.

    We aren't roosters or turkeys, so if they are confused about what species they are, they're too stupid to breed, in my opinion. Plenty of good males to choose from which won't harm a human, as necessary as some breeders view this trait to be, lol. They know we're not turkeys and chickens, just as they know dogs, cats, cows, horses, other poultry, etc are not the same species as them. Some exceptionally dumb ones do think we're the same species, but I cull them. Stupidity ought not breed. Unfortunately, it does. Too often.
    Quote: It's "Ritalin" not "redelin" and human aggression is something we bred into them, not a natural trait, and not something inherent in males or females just by virtue of gender or age or whatever the excuse is.

    After thousands of years of domesticity, and having bred it out of basically every breed, it's a bad trait only propagated by those who think it's natural, like yourself.

    As for Ritalin in boys, or girls, a lot of kids are hyperactive because of various issues ranging from ASDs to food colorings. Many kids who don't need medicating get medicated, often as a matter of convenience for overworked parents. Kids when healthy are active, not just boys, and all hyperactive kids are not "just being little boys". Too broad a generalization there; after all, by your generalized statement, one might deduce that hyperactive little girls on Ritalin are being prevented from being "little boys" and Ritalin-ed into being "wimps".

    Being a vicious bully is never, ever, a sign of a good male (or female) worth breeding. Not in humans, and not in animals. I do not buy from those who subscribe to that mentality; often they have some nasty ideas about what a 'real man' is and project their concept of their masculinity onto their roosters, dogs, etc and expect all males to be violent bullies. The man that believes good roosters beat the hens is the man who also beats his wife, in my experience.

    Note: I am not accusing you or anyone here of that, just speaking of how a person's breeding philosophy often carries over into his personal life from my direct experiences with that sort. Such beliefs about what is "natural" in "the wild" are often those of an uneducated mind. I've studied animals for years but those with the most violently inclined opinions on what a wild male does are often those who have done no study, just watched a handful of cheap documentaries narrated by often woefully ignorant people. For some, the romance-novel concept of a male is preferential to the actual reality of the spectrum of male animal behavior, which is often too peaceful for their liking.

    Each to their own. If people were honest about whether or not their males attack humans, it would be simple for those who believe this is a bad trait to avoid it, and those who believe it is a good trait to breed it on.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
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  9. livininbrazil

    livininbrazil Chillin' With My Peeps

    I had a tom and some hens, all wonderful natures. I sold them on because at the time I had no sensible facilities to raise the poults, and lost a few though not all, being a bit delicate. I wish I´d kept that tom, he was so easy to handle. He never threatened anyone. I now have a sweet little hen, she´s rearing 2 chicks(chicken) that I let her hatch out, and I´d like to get her a nice tom like the one I used to have. Here´s hoping.
     
  10. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Best wishes with that. I've lost a few great turkeys and you sure learn to appreciate them all the more when you see what badly bred offerings are out there in terms of replacements... It can be so hard to find good stock.
     

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