1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Coop or no coop???? .... and other questions ;-)

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by GermanChick, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. GermanChick

    GermanChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    442
    0
    121
    Apr 12, 2010
    NW Missouri
    - I am thinking about getting some turkey this year. Either some Bourbon Red or Narragansett. I will start with 5 and see how it goes. I was starting my research but there is very little information out there. I got the Storey Guide but that covers more the commercial aspect. From what I was reading here on this forum there is not really a need for a coop and they could do fine without. I would prefer to have a coop for them and lock them up at night. We live on 10 acres and do have lots of mature trees around. So my question is if we build them a coop will they learn to go in there at night or will they just roost in trees????
    - I would like to free range them during the day and we live in the country where there are lots of wild turkeys, will my heritage turkeys "abandon" me for the wild ones?.
    - If I get a heritage breed I would have to get them around March/April to have them on the dinner table for Thanksgiving, right??
    - How long do they have to stay in the brooder before they can go outside?

    Questions, questions, question ............
     
  2. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,921
    24
    213
    Mar 30, 2008
    ND
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
  3. GermanChick

    GermanChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    442
    0
    121
    Apr 12, 2010
    NW Missouri
    Thank you Frosty! How big are the Turkeys at 8 weeks - How much brooder space do they need at that time ???

    If they are really as friendly as I've been reading so far I might have a problem if it comes close to Thanksgiving. I can get quite attached to my animals ;-) And if they start following me around I don't know if I want to eat them.......
     
  4. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,921
    24
    213
    Mar 30, 2008
    ND
    I usually raise BBW for dinner... they all look alike so I don't get as attached. With mine, I put them out when fully feathered and keep an eye on them to make sure they are handling it ok.

    As far as space goes, I start 15 in a 2' x 4' brooder. When they look like they need more room, I move half of them to another brooder. From there I start putting them in a 4' x 8' portable pen outside during the day if the weather co-operates and bring them back in at night. I don't have a clue what temperature I keep the brooder at... I put a heat lamp in there and watch them. They'll tell me if they are comfortable. If they are huddled under the lamp, it needs lowered a little. I want them to be scattered and cheeping quietly.

    Some people put chicken chicks or guinea keets in with them to show them where the food and water is. I never found that to be necessary, but you can do it if you want to. I put feed in an egg flat for the first few days and have feeders in there too. When I am sure they are using the feeders, I remove the egg flat. I start them with smaller water founts, the quart size. I used to use the gallon size but had a poult fall in and drown.

    A lot of folks start their birds on wire and don't let them touch the ground until they are older to protect them from coccidiosis. I never had problems with it. A lot of folks here will say to use the medicated feed to start them. Don't worry, it doesn't have antibiotics. It has Amprolium which is a coccidiostat. My personal choice is to use non-medicated feed but that doesn't make me 'right'. Which feed to use is a personal choice and I don't feel either way is right or wrong. Do some research, and go with what you feel is right for you and your birds.
     
  5. Smiles-N-Sunshine

    Smiles-N-Sunshine Chillin' With My Peeps

    797
    12
    158
    Oct 19, 2008
    Palominas, Arizona
    We are coop-free with our turkeys. They roost on a chain link fence next to the chickens' coop. Our temps got to 4 F last February, and they were just fine sitting on metal like that.
     
  6. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,921
    24
    213
    Mar 30, 2008
    ND
    My coop isn't heated and they have been through -38F. But I like to protect them from predators at night... there was a Great Horned Owl picking the wild turkeys out of the trees here a few years ago.
     
  7. GermanChick

    GermanChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    442
    0
    121
    Apr 12, 2010
    NW Missouri
    That's why I would like to coop them up at night too. We have owls and raccoons and all kinds of critters here.
    My concern is just that they might not learn to go in the coop at night....... I don't want to heard them in every day. Would be nice if they would "tuck" themselves in every night just like the chickens. Don't want to waist the time and money to build a coop if they don't use it....
     
  8. Mort Bondurant

    Mort Bondurant Out Of The Brooder

    11
    0
    21
    Jan 12, 2012
    We are also on 10 acres near Spokane where wild Turkeys abound. We have Royal Palms, Narragansetts, Bourbon Reds and Black Spanish and they stay with us, not the Wild Ones. They don't need a coop when mature and prefer roosting in trees. This evening it's freezing rain and they are perfectly fine. I agree with everything Frosty said about brooding. Once our birds got about the size of a chicken we opened the door to the "brooder house" (basically a chicken house) to let them free range. At that size, the chicken (Coopers) hawks wouldn't harass them. They returned to their roosts in the brooder house every night for about a week until they decided they'd rather be up in the trees at night. Now, I couldn't coax them back inside if I tried. Plus, it's one less chore each evening to worry about.

    We got day-old poults in April last year and had a great Thanksgiving meal. Not to mention ground turkey, smoked turkey, turkey stock et cetera since then. Don't worry about "attachment." It's much nobler for them to grace your table than to die of old age. I just got my incubator stuff in the mail today and will be hatching eggs this season.

    Mortimer
     
  9. Ema

    Ema Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2010
    N. Ontario CANADA
    I raised turkeys for the first time this past summer, I had soo many questions too, and in the end I didn't even follow a lot of the information I got, I went by watching them and meeting or exceeding their needs.

    I had 11 BBW and I brooded them for the first 2 weeks in a round plastic pool, but I soon discovered these little ones needed much more head room and space or they just walked all over on top of each other.

    I moved them out to an 8X8 summer coop meant for my spring chickens, but they really the room. I put them on turkey starter for the first 6 weeks, which I know is a bit longer than what people feed them starter for, but I felt they required it. I then put them on regular turkey feed.

    the summer coop had a 20 foot covered run, but after another 4 weeks they needed more room, so I opened up the run door and allowed them to free range, they never took off on me, in fact they just followed me everywhere, no feed bucket required lol.

    My Dh made them a log coop for the rest of the summer and fall, it had 4 inch gaps in between each beam and for the top we just laid a tarp on top and secured it.

    Our turkeys didn't care much for rain and happily roosted on the cross beams, which were 8 foot trees secured into place until the rain passed, then they would go free range. I did worry a lot about predators, like bears and bobcats an the huge owls we had hanging around. but by this time the turkeys were so big that I actually didn't have to worry, the owls overlooked the turkeys and went for my chickens who were more manageable...

    by the end of august they had eaten up all the grass and weeds on 4 acres, didn't have to cut down the grass a single time this past summer except for the front where no animals were mowing it down, lol. By the time our thanksgiving came around the Toms were 35 to 40 lbs and the hens were between 20 to 25 pounds. I had originally thought about keeping one Tom and 2 hens until I realized I overlooked a couple important factors, they couldn't breed on their own and they would soon be too heavy and start having leg issues. so the whole turkey flock had to be processed.

    this spring I am ordering midget whites, but I also plan on getting a few heritage breeds to keep on the farm as pets. this time around I know how much room to give them, what they like and how they like to amuse themselves.....

    I did spoil mine though, I was out there for hours on end every day, and sometimes I would just sit and read a book only to have them come up and inspect my book or steal my bookmark and run away....funny enough BBW are not supposed to be fast birds but these buggers were and I laughed because they reminded me of Ostriches as they ran really fast around the property. Raising turkeys was easier than I thought it would be, and soo much fun, they were very curious, and had a lot of character. I don't know how many people told me how dumb turkeys really are, but I found them to be quite intelligent and very gentle.

    With my chickens I clean their coop every week on Sundays, with the turkeys though I had to do it 2x per week, they were really messy, they also drank a ton of water, they love to col down in a shallow plastic kiddie pool, they like to stand on things, and peck at shiny things, so I gave them an old silver feeder bottom and hung it on a rope, they truly loved pecking it at and then they would turn their heads sideways, like a dog does when they hear something interesting, and then do it again...

    they are intricate animals like everyone says, keep them warm until fully feathered and feed them well with lots of water too, keep their bedding clean and give them lots of room to roam, they never go far and always come back, but the key is to teach them where they are supposed to come back to at night, they roost to sleep, much like chickens and prefer to be altogether. I had 4 Toms in that group and no fighting at all, the key is room, the more room the happier they are.

    Anyhow just sharing my experience, I cannot wait to get me some more turkey poults, they are truly amazing birds.

    Ema
     
  10. chicken tows

    chicken tows Chillin' With My Peeps

    142
    7
    106
    May 31, 2010
    Sonoma County
    I had a pair of BBB for over 3 years. No coop, no problem. The wild turkeys would land on the fence and look at my turkeys, but never entered the property.
    Then I got a pair of Royal Palm turkeys. The first night the tome slept on top of my house on the chimney.
    They reproduced, but momma was not too good at motherhood. I incubated some of her eggs. One of the toms was aggressive. The flock started flying over the fence to visit the neighbors and stare into their sliding glass door. That's when I had to sell them. I could not take a chance of Mr. aggressive getting after the neighbors.
    I much preferred the BBB for temperment.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by