Any experienced heritage turkey keepers willing to give tips to a beginner?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by KristinMarie, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. KristinMarie

    KristinMarie Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 24, 2012
    I have been keeping chickens for about a year and have decided to try my hand at heritage turkeys. I am getting my order of 6 Blue Slates, 6 Bourbon Reds, and 3 Narragansettes in June and I assumed that, like chickens, I would be able to find lots of experienced people, or at the very least books, to get any information I need to know how to raise them. I was WRONG! I have free range chickens and now I am terrified to let them anywhere near the turkeys, but I don't want to keep the turkeys locked up in cages all the time to keep them off of the ground. Does anyone have any pointers or words of wisdom? It would be GREATLY appreciated, even if it is just the title of a good book or website. Thank you!!!
  2. Belgian Lady

    Belgian Lady Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 25, 2009
    White, Ga
    I have my turkeys right next to my chickens. Ialso raise chick with the turkey babies so they learn how to eat and drink. I have never had a problem with the turkeys and the chickens. They free range together. I know all you read about Blackhead, but I have never had a problem. I have had them together for several years.
  3. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    check with your local agricultural extension office to see if blackhead is a problem in your area. Once you find out if it is a problem in your area or not then you will know what you can do with your turkeys.

    we don't have any history of blackhead here so my turkeys run with my chickens

    I've read here on the board where people with blackhead issues in their turkeys have reported good success with adding cayenne pepper to their feed and water as a preventative and also as a "cure"
  4. TurkeyOutlaw

    TurkeyOutlaw Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 23, 2012
    I'm a new turkey owner also in the process of doing turkey-homework. You're right, turkey resources are fewer and further between.

    I found the albc website which has 13 .pdf chapters on raising heritage turkeys:

    Also got a book at the library called "Not Just for Christmas":

    I've read that turkeys build their immunity slower than chickens. Some sources say it's ok to put them outside at 6 weeks, some say 12 weeks. That's a big difference, so I'll have to do more homework to sort that one out.

    Good luck.
  5. frank53061

    frank53061 Chillin' With My Peeps

    You have come to the right place There are people here that are a great sources of information I have picked up a lot just reading past blogs that people have posted questions and then someone has answered them.
    I am new to Turkey raising I have been around chickens all my life but about 2 years ago started my own flock of chickens.

    I have 17 Red Bourbon Polts and Incubated 8 Chics from my flock of birds and timed it so they are the same age.
    I have my chics and polts together and they are doing great together matter of a fact at this point the chics are the trouble makers .
    The only thing that might happen as they grow up there maybe a Tom that tries to mate with a Chicken and that could injure or kill a hen.

    Things I do to keep my birds healthy...... good feed.....fresh water..... free range and put Diatomaceous Earth in there food and dust there coop and also each bird for parasites.
    I also put one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per quart in there water all of this keeps the Chickens fat happy and healthy.
    I also make home made biscuit's on the weekend and a few for the chickens its like a shark feeding frenzy
    There is no problem with black head because all my chics are brought up from day old.
    My only worry is that my fencing may not be enough for the Turkeys the pen is 50 feet across 8 feet high the coop is 8 feet high and 8 feet long and 4 feet wide.
    I will not keep all the 17 Turkeys I will sell some eat some and breed maybe 6 hens and 2 toms.
    I may have to clip wings or put cover over the pen or both.

    If anyone has advise for me please let me know always willing to learn more.

    P.S. I just started using Chicken water nipples and they are great lot less trouble and mess.
  6. Cottage Rose

    Cottage Rose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 24, 2008
    Mid west Michigan
    Total turkey newbie here too. Have some babies in the incubator as we speak. [​IMG]
    Been doing my homework and not much info besides the very basics via web searches.


    So do you add the DE to the poults feed and vinegar in water from day one?
    I won't be raising mine on you aren't suppose to put them outside until they are 6 WEEKS old?!
    Geez thats an awful long time for the poor things to be cooped up.
    Is there any supplement or whatever you can give them to boost their immune system?

    How long does it take for them to figure out how to eat and drink?
    If you don't have chicks to show them how to eat can you mimic a birds eating by tapping your finger
    on the food ? Are poults frightened of people when they hatch out?
    Can you offer them food from your hand or finger tips and will they peck at it?
  7. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    I wouldn't bother adding either ADE or vinegar to diet. Clean, fresh available water and a good high protein Gamebird Starter (28-30%)are sufficient (vinegar kills both good and bad bacteria in crop/Too much ADE can clog up GI tract). Wouldn't bother with greens during first three weeks unless finely chopped. A welcome addition to diet (create slaves for life - just bring enough for `everybody') are bugs and moths and `delegged' grasshoppers, etc.: [​IMG] If it is warm and dry in the area, outside, where you'd like them to explore you could start at 3 weeks. Lots of members allow the mamas to take the con from day one, with good survival rates: [​IMG] Another reference:
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
  8. Outhouser

    Outhouser Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 30, 2011
    I raise my young poults with my mature turkeys now, starting at three weeks of age. I start them out by keeping them separated by hardware cloth so that they can see and get used to each other. They all tend to get along just fine. Turkeys in my experience are more laid back than chickens and don't peck or harass each other like chickens tend to do. I've also never had any issues with blackhead, and have never tried to find out if it is in my area. The only trouble I have had concerning turkeys is due to predation from a 8 foot long female Black Rat Snake. I lost three two week old turkeys before I figured out what was happening to them, as they just "vanished" into thin air. I was completely dumbfounded on what was happening to them until I found that very fat and lumpy snake with my turkeys inside her! Once I moved them in with the mature birds, I stopped having loss from the snake. I didn't kill the snake either, she's been keeping our place rodent free for years now and was just doing what was natural to her.
  9. frank53061

    frank53061 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I use in small amounts of Diatomaceous Earth with my chickens as a preventive for parasites I almost lost some chickens when I found 3 birds acting strange it looked like they were gasping for air it was worms that nested in the neck and mouth of the chicken.
    I found a quick home remedy of boiling tobacco and giving each a spoon full of the juice forcing them to swallow the next day the worms were gone.
    That's the reason to supplement with small amounts of the DE in the food keeps the worms away and its cheap.
    Do some research and find out when to and how much to use.
    I use it on the outside of the birds 2 to 3 times a year to help with mite control even with the birds dirt bathing that also helps with the mites.
    I would not use DE with the Turkeys till after 6 weeks or when you allow then to go out side to roam 2 tablespoons to 4 to 5 pounds of food that is when they will come in contact with parasites most likely.
    Google search the benefits of using apple cider vinegar with Turkeys and chickens and you make the choice.
    And yes from day one I use the vinegar for the Chics and the Poults.
    I would rather prevent something rather than loose birds or spend mass amounts of money for drugs to fix the problem.
    Best source is Google to find data combine it all and make your decisions.
    Dont take my advise or someone Elise's blindly.
    We all learn from trial and error.
    Best of luck.
  10. ldutch123

    ldutch123 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 9, 2011
    I think my turkey baby one week old is blind in one eye? There was some white film in her eye and she kinda spins in circles some times. Any advice for me? She seems fine otherwise. I have never raised a turkey. She is in with chicks and the people were just gonna kill her so I took her and said I will give it a shot.

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