Considering getting turkeys... Some questions


10 Years
May 2, 2009
The Redwoods of California
First of all, they would have to stay in with the chickens. I have fifty chickens, mostly bantams, in a huge area. At night they roost in a shed. A friend told me that I must absolutely not keep them together, as the chickens will eat turkey poo and it will give them some disease that will kill them. I think this is nonsense, but is it true that you must not keep them together?

Can they eat the chicken feed (I mix scratch with layer pellets)?

Please give me the Pros and Cons of turkeys.

Here is a pic of the chicken's run:

You face two major potential problems. The first is a serious disease called blackhead or Histomoniasis that Turkeys can catch from chickens if it is prevalent in your area. Chickens are not severely effected by this bug but act as carriers. If that is not a problem in your area don't worry about it.

Second problem is diet. Young growing turkeys require a high protein feed in the 26-30% range. Once full grown they do fine on the 16 or 17% laying mixes for chickens.

Any turkeys except the broad breasted comercial types will fly more than most chickens so you may need to get higher fencing. They roost where they want. The roosts need to be at least 2x4s. Lighter roosts used for bantys will be crushed by a couple of big turkeys.
After they have finished growing turkeys are fine with chickens as long as you have lot's of room as you do. Your chickens would have to have been around other turkeys to get blackhead to pass to your turkeys, so consider that. Turkeys do sometimes pick on chickens, at least my Bourbons do, but when there's lots of room there's rarely a problem. My tom has been seen mounting chicken hens too.

And yes, turkeys, especially hens fly very well and like to roost in trees at night - or on the roof of your barn. Make them some high, sturdy roosts. Breeder turkeys do fine on laying crumbles, although mine always get out and add dry catfood to their diet too. Turkeys can also be very noisy. The toms are very ugly but its fascinating to watch them courting the hens.
Thanks for the reply.We have many wild turkeys in our area, and we had them stay at our place for a while a few years back. We had free-ranging chickens then too, with the turkeys. We live in the redwoods, in Boulder Creek, I don't know if the disease is there or not. The chickens have a very large area; they are not in the least crowded or anything. Maybe I could try with a couple turkeys and see how it goes?

When I raise them, could I keep turkey feed with the chick feed?

I clip the banty's wings and I have no problem with them flying over the fence. Could I for example clip the flight feathers of one wing on the turkeys, or would it be necessary to clip both? And would that help? As for the roosting, the chickens have no trees in their run and to get into a tree the turkeys would have to fly over the fence (6 ft).

Ryan, I'm not sure how tall the redwood is, but I'm guessing you would need three people to stretch their arms around the trunk for their fingers to touch. Yes, I LOVE living in the redwoods.
My hens have no trouble at all flying over the 8 foot fence that we have. I feed my chickens in the coop in a big chicken feeder and put the turkey food in a pan in the run. The chickens will eat a little turkey food and the turks eat a little chicken food but everyone seem fine and healthy.

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