backyard turkeys??

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by kywest, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. kywest

    kywest Out Of The Brooder

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    I live in a neighborhood on a 3/4 acre lot. We have had 8-10 chickens for about three years now that free range in our fenced back yard about 50% of the days. Last year we raised two heritage turkeys that were delicious!! I'd love to get a pair or three midget white turkeys and start a tiny self sustaining flock for personal eating. Given our space, is this a practical plan? Our coop is about 6x8 with a 8x16 run. I have some room to expand if necessary. I assume we don't have problems with blackhead, as the turkeys lived with the chickens for 9 months. Would the MWs integrate to the flock of chickens? Out last turkeys just followed the chickens wherever they went and never tried to leave the yard. One of my hens raised a batch of chicks, which was fun, but roosters were too noisy!! (they turned out to be delicious too;-) Last, where do you find MW turkey chicks?? I've been on crags list, poultry sites, can't seem to find any locally. What about hatchery birds??
    Thanks!
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop
    I don't know the answers to your other questions (though I'll eagerly wait to hear what others say) but on this....I'm also interested in MW's but I haven't found that they are available too many places. Your best bet may be to order hatching eggs and hatch your own. That's what I'm probably going to end up doing. Steve of SandsPoultry has a good reputation.
     
  3. kywest

    kywest Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 14, 2009
    central Ohio
    anyone with some turkey experience -- ideas for back yard flock?
     
  4. FarmTillURdead

    FarmTillURdead Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have been running my turkeys with chickens for years. They even stay in the same coop. I started out seperate but the chickens kept jumping in the turkey pen and sneaking in their coop to roost at night so I eventually gave up and was very upset at the cost of a 1,200 dollar coop that wasn't really needed.
    I have only had one instance with black head. One Tom came down with it. One morning his head just looked covered in blood. Like someone gave him rug burn all over it. I seperated him... gave him some womer (in a cow pellet form! Oh yeah! I'm fancy!). His head scabbed over (turned black with scabs) then peeled and he was fine. I returned him to the flock - and we ate him. I have been tested for pasasites and I am clean.
    I live so far out in the sticks and off too many wild animals to not get tested occasionally.
    I think you would do fine with the midget whites or even a pair of heritage turkeys if they were let out during the day for exercise. I have a small coop and I free range all day so the small space isn't much of a problem most of the year. It is in the summer time as I can't ever go on vacation because the coop is too cramped for a heat exchange and I need to be here to round stuff up in the evenings.
    It sounds like you have a nice set up!

    I have always bought hatchery birds. But this year I will incubate my own due to the hatchery bill. I would also be led to believe the multi-generational bird adapts to the area and thrives better than parents who live in a hatchery and aren't exposed to natural sunlight, grass and bugs.

    I say get some birds and try it. The more space the better as you have to clean it less. The nice thing about poultry if you end up with too many is it's not hard to find homes - or just put them in the freezer at an early age.[​IMG] The only time I will ever eat a store turkey again is when I have to go to other folks houses for Thanksgiving. [​IMG]
     
  5. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    FarmTillURdead, what you are describing doesn't sound like blackhead. With that, the head normally doesn't turn black (at least according to the Merck Veterinary manual, I have no actual experience with it). The big symptom is sulphur colored stools caused by liver failure. If the head did turn black, it would be a skin discoloration, not bleeding or scabs. I think it sounds more like your turkey got into a fight.

    The biggest issue I would see in keeping turkeys and chickens together would be during breeding season. If a tom turkey decides to breed with a chicken hen, it can end badly for the chicken. I do have experience with that. I don't think it's as much of a problem if they free range, and might not be as bad with Midget Whites since they are smaller? I had a Narrigansett tom and a few turkey hens that I over wintered in the henhouse one year (I don't have electricity to the turkey barn and figured they could take advantage of the chickens having a water heater) and in the spring I started finding dead hens. I finally figured out that the turkey was killing them during breeding attempts. I moved the turkeys and quit losing chickens.
     
  6. FarmTillURdead

    FarmTillURdead Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for pointing some stuff out for me Frosty. Um... where on EARTH did I get my information?!? Good grief! [​IMG]
    The cartoons in my head are sometimes a bit more vivid than the words on the paper. [​IMG]
    I may have to limit my advise!

    His head scabbed over just like a skinned knee - in sheets and the scabs did appear black in color. The first year I read so much stuff trying to get it all right on the first round I guess I blended some words, diffinitions and pictures in my head all together. I could swear that I read the disease in the liver caused red blood cells to break down - causing the thin skin on the head to bleed. Perhaps not!
    Woes me and the post-chemo therapy brain! [​IMG]
    I struggle with it sometimes. The rest of the time I have to pretend like I know what's going on. [​IMG]
    Thanks for pointing out my error and telling me about the turkeys and the chicken hens. I have not had this problem - yet. I culled all of the aggressive Toms but understand stuff happens when no one is looking. My coops are nearly empty in breeding season and they are only in overnight. I will keep on the look out for it for sure. I have 14 fertile eggs and I never see any action in the field. I have ordered all Jersey Giants for my next flock perhaps with the larger birds this might be more of a problem. Thanks again for telling me about something I would have never figured out if I hadn't seen it going on in the coop before I got there. I have had this problem with a large rooster who got ahold of a bantam but would never suspect turkeys as mine won't attempt to climb aboard without permission... but weird stuff happens!
    I tell you what! I sure feel better about eating that bird now, knowing it wasn't a recovered sicko!
     
  7. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Like I said, I have never SEEN blackhead so can only go by what I have read. The only things that I have read about that cause scabs are fowl pox and fighting. I am ruling out fox pox in my pea brain because I think it causes bigger scabs and I would also think that you would have it show in more than one bird. I am NOT an expert. I have been raising turkeys every year since 1994, usually BB types and have had heritage here off and on throughout the years but I have had very few problems with them and just learn as I go and read a lot. A horse guy once said that anybody who claims to know everything about horses doesn't know much. As soon as a person gets comfortable with their knowledge, the horses will show us that there is a lot left to learn. I think this holds true for any critters, doesn't it?

    I don't think all toms try to breed with chicken hens, I just wanted to mention the possibility. I had some California White hens that started egg eating and last spring I put them in with the turkeys just to get them out of the hen house. I have 2 White Holland toms, a Regal Red tom, 4 White Holland hens, and a BBW hen in there and never had problems with those turkeys messing with the chickens. I don't know if the toms weren't interested or if the hens being like Leghorns just got out of the way in time? The tom that I had the problems with was a Narrigansett and the hens were mostly large breed types like Speckled Sussex and Buff Orpington (so really mellow temperaments). The Narri tom eventually sealed his fate when he hit me from behind. He also taught me that it's a bad idea to sprinkle Blackberry Brandy on a turkey before putting it in the oven. Though I will admit that the explosion that blew the oven door open and caught a nearby dish towel on fire was amusing after the fact since nobody got hurt... [​IMG]

    We all have things happen, the important thing is that we learn from it, learn from others experiences, and try to share ours so that others will learn from us.
     
  8. Wayne&Kim1963

    Wayne&Kim1963 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]

    I have run turkeys ducks geese and now peacocks together without issue for many years. As long as you only hatch or have small baby chicks brought into your group of poultry and don't introduce adults from other houses or sales then you will not bring in any diseases. That is all I know about getting a sick going on. If you bring in adult you stand chance to get all your poultry sick with anything. Because they can carry it and not show any signs of illness. If I go over to someone's house with poultry I make sure i spray lysol or chlorox water on my shoes to disinfect them so I don't make any of my stuff catch something. All of our chickens and turkeys are free range and we lock them up at night in chicken houses. Everyone is trained to go in house to sleep.
     
  9. slim1986

    slim1986 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My parents neighbors have turkeys and chickens that free range together, and as far as we know never had problems, in fact we are gonna get some turkeys to go out with our chickens this spring. And as far as Midget Whites, Murray McMurray Hatchery is the only place ive seen them for sale, you have to order a min of 15 but you could always sell some off and make some of your money back. I'd try them out.
     
  10. FarmTillURdead

    FarmTillURdead Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Frosty - your alright in my book! - I also feel the same way about "experts". I'm bumbling through trying to find my way. I seriously can't find where I read that about black head. I looked! So it is possible I made it up. Sounded pretty reasonable to me! LOL! I mean it makes sense that could happen! But not likely or it would be in more publications! [​IMG]
    ...it's still good to learn from other peoples expierences. If I ever get scabs again I won't assume it's the same thing I did last time! ...so it's great you said something to me! Thank you! It was the first sick bird I ever had and the panic was all consuming that I was going to lose my whole flock to a disease.
    You had a Tom spur you? This is good stuff! [​IMG]
    Not because you got hit but because I didn't think it could ever happen! And I have Narragansetts! I had seen some Royal Palms try to kick my Border Collie but none have ever taken a stab at me in the years I have been doing this - so I have let my guard down completely. I'm thankful you have advised me this isn't a stance to keep!
    I could learn a lot from you - I would have tried the brandy thing too in time! but I was thinking rum. LOL! Oh man! I can SO see myself doing that!!!
    But I am slow - a lot more would have caught on fire while my brain tried to recover from panic mode.[​IMG]Circus music starts in my head and the song has to finish before I react. : /
    Thanks too for the Tom on chicken info. I know to watch for it now.... and the sneaky jerk that might come up from behind. I have a bantam who is certain my boots are his nemisis. I let him go to town but he got me in sneakers yesterday. Stupid jerk. I had the dog chase him for 10 minutes this morning after he thought about it. Tired him out.
    [​IMG] I'm very thankful you said something. I have some new things to look out for and study up on. [​IMG]
     

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