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Best Beginner Turkey

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by RegSizedRudy, Apr 7, 2016.

  1. RegSizedRudy

    RegSizedRudy New Egg

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    Apr 6, 2016
    Northwest Illinois
    Hi! I am looking for suggestions on a good turkey breed to start with. I would like a heritage breed, and the turkeys will be allowed to roam around during the day when they are big enough. Is there any particular breed that is more docile than the others?
     
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    I've found my Bourbon Reds and Standard Bronzes to be the most docile and friendly of my turkeys. My Standard Bronze tom Charlie in particular is very friendly and loves to have his beard petted. My Bourbon Red hen is not friendly the way Charlie is but she is much calmer and easier to handle than any of my other ones.
     
  3. feedman77

    feedman77 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 10, 2013
    I have palms. They can be flighty. But I like them best for their color. They are one the smaller sized heritage.

    My bourbons are extremely curious. Not a lap turkey but tolerant.

    My Slates were good birds but a little on the. Dominant side to other fowl.

    Black Spanishes I've had were a little on the wild side seemed to roam the farthest and the most when I free range.

    Most heritage are the same except for color and body size.

    Best suggestion pick a color you like and go from there.

    Turkeys have a whole other personality type than chickens.

    Mine are a blast.
     
  4. RegSizedRudy

    RegSizedRudy New Egg

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    Apr 6, 2016
    Northwest Illinois
    Is it a major concern to have the turkeys and chickens free range in the same area? They will not be housed together, but during the day there is the chance that they will cross paths. I am located in very the northwest corner of Illinois, if that matters.
     
  5. feedman77

    feedman77 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 10, 2013
    I'm lucky I guess. I range mine and pen them together.

    I have had no issues.

    Best thing to do is go to soil conservation service and ask about blackhead disease in your area.

    I'm in west central Mo.
     
  6. MamaChick0708

    MamaChick0708 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 17, 2016
    Question, if you have established hens can you add a turkey to the mix like you would new chicks? My husband really wants to raise a turkey but Im wondering if thats even possible
     
  7. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop


    There are some health concerns with having chickens and turkeys within even a few hundred feet of each other. Chickens have the potential to carry and spread a protozoa known as "Blackhead." This protozoa almost never affects the chickens, but can wipe out an entire flock of turkeys. Regular worming can help reduce the chances of transmission, but really it comes down to whether or not it is prevalent in your locale and your soil. Whenever you run turkeys and chickens together you are taking a risk the turkeys will become sick. I would recommend contacting local ag/poultry extensions or avian vets and asking them if blackhead is a big issue in your area; their response will give you an idea of how much risk you will be taking by allowing interaction. It is really your choice whether or not you want to take that chance.
     
  8. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop


    See my response to @RegSizedRudy above regarding disease issues among chickens and turkeys.

    Assuming you were willing to take the risk of Blackhead occurring, yes, you could add a turkey to a flock of hens, though I would probably recommend purchasing at least two - they prefer having buddies of their own species and you wouldn't want to raise one all by itself until it was ready to go outside and join the mature flock. I would suggest waiting until they are 8-12 weeks of age to add them to the flock, or whenever they reach a size similar to your mature chicken hens; then do a separated introduction by placing them within visual range but physically separated from your flock for a few weeks. When you do place them physically into the coop with the other birds, be sure to do it at night.

    Edited to add: There's also diet concerns. Turkeys require a lot more protein and a lot less calcium than the average laying hen. You would need to either switch your chickens to a Flock Raiser or Gamebird Maintenance ration and supplement with oyster shell for calcium purposes, or hang additional feeders in your coop above the hen's height in order to allow the turkeys to eat their proper ration.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
  9. RegSizedRudy

    RegSizedRudy New Egg

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    Apr 6, 2016
    Northwest Illinois
    Thanks! I knew that there were problems housing them together, but I didn't know if the problems were by allowing them access to a large area to roam around. I will do some research locally and then go from there. I would love to add turkeys, but I do not want them to suffer needlessly.
     

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