Considering purchasing some red bourbon turkeys... Need some help?

elissarules

Songster
Dec 20, 2017
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Pennsylvania
Hey! I somehow managed to convince my mom that our homestead would be much improved by some turkeys--and she loves the look of red bourbons.

I want a tom and two hens, and through some of my research, it seems like they would be fine in a trio. HOWEVER, I may be purchasing adults here soon- and I might be buying the hens from a different source than the tom. Is this an issue? What are my best bet for making sure the whole thing is an easy process?

Also, I've been doing some research on the feed that turkeys need over chickens, and all of the information I can find is on raising them for meat. They will be pet/egg-laying turkeys... So is there a difference here? I want to make sure that they are as happy as possible. Thank you guys so much!
 

oldhenlikesdogs

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Feed you turkeys an All Flock or flock raiser with a separate bowl of oyster shells for the calcium needs. I highly recommend not keeping the turkeys with your chickens. Hopefully you have a separate pen for them. Turkeys will harass chickens.

Getting them from 2 different sources should be fine.
 

R2elk

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I may be purchasing adults here soon- and I might be buying the hens from a different source than the tom. Is this an issue?
Getting them from two different sources is usually better since they are often not as closely related.

The only thing to remember is to make sure that any source is disease and pest free.
 

elissarules

Songster
Dec 20, 2017
133
191
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Pennsylvania
Feed you turkeys an All Flock or flock raiser with a separate bowl of oyster shells for the calcium needs. I highly recommend not keeping the turkeys with your chickens. Hopefully you have a separate pen for them. Turkeys will harass chickens.

Getting them from 2 different sources should be fine.
I’ve read a lot success stories of raising them together...Id really like to do that. We have our ducks and chickens together? Also, I read that some people feed them the chicken layer feed...but turkeys need more protein right?
 

R2elk

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I’ve read a lot success stories of raising them together...Id really like to do that. We have our ducks and chickens together? Also, I read that some people feed them the chicken layer feed...but turkeys need more protein right?
If the turkeys are imprinted by the chickens when they are little, it can cause very bad problems when they grow up and use their size difference against the chickens. Turkeys need a lot more room than chickens, so thinking that they can coexist in the small places that chickens get by in is a big mistake.

If you are in an area that has blackhead, keeping turkeys with chickens can be a death sentence.

Adult turkeys can do fine on a quality 16% protein or higher layer feed supplemented with oyster shell. All layer feeds are not equal so you need to pick one that is high quality and not by what is cheaper.

Newly hatched poults need a quality turkey or gamebird starter that not only has the higher protein but also the higher amounts of lysine, methionine and niacin that they need. Chick starter especially the cheap chick starter doesn't have the proper nutrients that turkey poults need.
 

elissarules

Songster
Dec 20, 2017
133
191
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Pennsylvania
If the turkeys are imprinted by the chickens when they are little, it can cause very bad problems when they grow up and use their size difference against the chickens. Turkeys need a lot more room than chickens, so thinking that they can coexist in the small places that chickens get by in is a big mistake.

If you are in an area that has blackhead, keeping turkeys with chickens can be a death sentence.

Adult turkeys can do fine on a quality 16% protein or higher layer feed supplemented with oyster shell. All layer feeds are not equal so you need to pick one that is high quality and not by what is cheaper.

Newly hatched poults need a quality turkey or gamebird starter that not only has the higher protein but also the higher amounts of lysine, methionine and niacin that they need. Chick starter especially the cheap chick starter doesn't have the proper nutrients that turkey poults need.

Thank you! So if they are not imprinted...what happens then? I'd have to see about what percentage the layer feed I have now is.

I have a decent amount of land I think and if I only get three would that be a major issue? I free-range.
 

R2elk

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Thank you! So if they are not imprinted...what happens then? I'd have to see about what percentage the layer feed I have now is.

I have a decent amount of land I think and if I only get three would that be a major issue? I free-range.
Each situation is different and each turkey is an individual with its own personality. My chickens and turkeys get along for the most part. There are times when an individual turkey hen gets it in for a specific rooster. When a turkey gets something in its mind, it is very difficult to get it to change its mind.

I try to keep at least 4 to 5 hens for one tom. It reduces the wear and tear on the hens from the tom when there are more of them to share his advances.
 

shedinator

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Apr 17, 2016
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Hey! I somehow managed to convince my mom that our homestead would be much improved by some turkeys--and she loves the look of red bourbons.

I want a tom and two hens, and through some of my research, it seems like they would be fine in a trio. HOWEVER, I may be purchasing adults here soon- and I might be buying the hens from a different source than the tom. Is this an issue? What are my best bet for making sure the whole thing is an easy process?

Also, I've been doing some research on the feed that turkeys need over chickens, and all of the information I can find is on raising them for meat. They will be pet/egg-laying turkeys... So is there a difference here? I want to make sure that they are as happy as possible. Thank you guys so much!

Once they're past 8 weeks, you can feed them the same stuff you give your chickens, though ideally they'll get a flock raiser/all flock feed with calcium offered on the side since they don't lay year-round. Poults need a much higher protein ration, which most folks take care of with game bird feed. If you want them as happy as possible, toss a handful of BOSS in with their food from time to time - it's like their catnip.

You're probably already aware of this, but free ranging turkeys in a temperate climate like PA likely won't give you a great many eggs. If allowed to free range, Hens will find a place they think is hidden to lay their eggs, and once they sit on their clutch, they stop laying for the year. If egg production during laying season is a goal of yours, you'll want to keep a close eye on them so they don't sneak off and hatch a brood before you get a chance to collect any.
 

mandelyn

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The #1 question I get is if I have any spare Turkey hens to replace those who have gone missing. A couple of people this past season had 10 year old toms who needed their 3rd or 5th wife. I was impressed they had 10 year old toms! Free range though is risky because they like to go off and brood when they figure out their eggs get stolen from the coop every day.

Their feed is very important, especially if you want a good hatch rate. We keep ours separate from the chickens, in covered grassy runs. They can be escape artists too!

My Bourbon girls have been laying machines. They started off leaving them in nest boxes, then started changing locations, burying them, putting them outside in the grass... they've tried to hide those eggs from me until I finally let them brood. They all jumped on board and they all failed... trampled. Won't be letting them do that again unless they each have their own spot.

Ours resumed laying after 2 months of their brooding attempt, they usually lay until September or so.

I do have one young turkey living with the batch of chickens she hatched with, the other turkey eggs in that small batch didn't hatch and she needed friends. I moved them into the stall next to the Bourbons so that she can transition over there once she's of size. With the added protein for the Turkey, those chickens have gotten pretty plump! They've been dropped to All-flock now that they're 3 months old.

I mixed my Turkeys and chickens the first year to find out if we were going to have Blackhead issues or not. Thankfully all was fine so I now I always do hatches with the turkey eggs first, chickens set a week after, and the baby chickens teach the baby turkeys about life in a brooder. Baby turkeys have to be taught to eat, they don't figure it out as fast as chickens do. Turkey eggs take 28 days to hatch and chickens 21, so by setting them a week apart they hatch on the same day.
 

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