Bourbon Reds on Pasture

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by MuddyW, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. MuddyW

    MuddyW New Egg

    Sep 6, 2010
    Hello turkey fanciers!

    We have a rafter of Bourbon Reds that are now about 8 weeks old. Ideally I'd like these guys to have the run of the yard (about 2.5 well fenced, grassy acres) during the day and be able to retire to their shelter at night. I love the idea of them running around gorging on all the bugs, particularly fire ants! In general is there anything wrong with this approach? If not, at what age can they be given free rein? One complication that concerns me greatly is our dogs. One chocolate lab and one rat terrier. As it stands, the birds are safely locked up in their shelter, but the dogs salivate with desire at the mere notion of chasing them. We also have cats, but the birds are already a discouraging size for a cat. So, can turkeys and dogs (of this nature) live together in peace? If I attempt to let them share the yard can I expect casualties? Is there a better solution than letting the turkeys have the run of the place? Will the real estate market ever return to normal?

    Ah thank ya...ah thank ya ver mush.
  2. OmaBird

    OmaBird Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 10, 2010
    CA High Desert
    I have lost a turkeys to my Neo Mastiff pup thinking he is playing with them. He is not a mean dog. He was raised with them and all went well for about 2 years. First it was a duck then a turkey that he tried to play with. I have four dogs and my daughter has three. I think all of the dogs have killed something at one time. Even my daughter 3 pound puppy grabbed one of the poults right out of the brooder. I have a hunting strain English Setter. When he was young he had a soft month and would bring me my neighbors chickens that jumped the fence. He didn't hurt them. He is a old dog now and his mouth is not so soft. Not very often but he has brought them to me dead. Some breeds can't be trusted at all. My daughter has two Huskys that would kill all my birds if given a chance. My dogs are only allowed out to run if my birds are all locked up and asleep. Other wise they are on a leash outside.

    I free ranged for 6 years. I thought I would never do it any other way. But even a 6 foot chain link fenced did not keep my turkeys from being killed. I did lock them up every night but a broody hen will hide. At that point they are sitting ducks waiting to be killed. This year I started penning them up (double fenced in) and I had no losses yet. My neighbors pits dig in, but have not killed anything for amost a year now.
  3. Lotsapaints

    Lotsapaints Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2010
    Paso Robles, CA
    Your poults are going to fly all over the place.....just saying [​IMG] my Jack Russells who at first though all my birds were for having fun with are now not too bad but to be safe I tie them up when my birds are out running around. My Turkeys love my neighbors wood lot they come home but I can't get them from going over there every morning....good thing they don't visit the garden. Turkeys just love to range all over where ever you don't want them to go I have 5 and 6 ft fences they find a way to get under or over and I keep one wing clipped.....some day I'll have one not make it back I can't blame any one but me
  4. Lagerdogger

    Lagerdogger Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2010
    Aitkin, MN
    We have labs. They have never killed a chicken or turkey. We also have some cats, and they also have never killed a chicken or turkey. The dogs initially show interest. I walk out with them, let them get close, say NO!, and that's the end of it. Adfter that, they ignore thd yard birds. It has not dampened their spirits for the grouse, woodcock, pheasants or ducks. I think I could raise ducks and they be OK too. The cats just never have seem interested in chickens or turkeys, although they have brought in a couple of live woodcock...Yikes!

    I wouldn't count on being able to get your turkeys to go back to where you want them too. They aren't quite like chickens. Give them a high outdoor roost near the food and water, and they will probably figure out that that's a pretty nice place. My turkeys are in a large pen with a six foot fence. They sometimes fly out. Some like to roost on the gate. None roost in the shelter although many like the roof. I added a roost 3 feet higher than the roof to try to draw back the gate perchers. Not much luck yet.

    Although the fencing doesn't stop the turkeys, it does hold off the predators. Something just stretched out the electric fence and distorted the chicken wire around the pen (about 120 ft per side). I'm guessing a bobcat lunged at a turkey, hit the fence, fell back on the electric, and hopefully got zapped hard!

    So the short answer is that if your pets are trainable, no problem. I'd worry about predators though.
  5. MuddyW

    MuddyW New Egg

    Sep 6, 2010
    Thanks for the replies! So, looks like the consensus is, don't let them have free rein of the property. Bummer. What's the next best thing? I've read about movable shelters made out of PVC , etc. but not only do they seem like a pain, that would defeat the purpose of the shelter I already have for them. I could build a large pen for them I guess, but I've read that before long at all they will decimate all the grass in any one area.
  6. briana1975

    briana1975 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2009
    Carleton Mi.
    My turkeys free range and go to the coop every night. I am home full time and this might be the differance. But just like my chickens they love treats. I go outside call them in with a piece of bread and they come running. Now after a year they stick close to the house and come running whenever they hear the back door open. My dogs also do well with them.
  7. MuddyW

    MuddyW New Egg

    Sep 6, 2010
    Hi Briana,

    How old were your turkeys when you first let them out? How long have you been doing this? How did your dogs react the first time?
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2010

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