Dealing with food aggression

SarahGfa

Crowing
Jan 26, 2018
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My turkeys have some food aggression. Whenever I enter the yard, they crowd me and grab stuff out of my hands. When my chickens get pushy, I tap them on the head and they back off. This doesn't work for turkeys. What is the turkey equivalent of pecking/tapping on the back of the head to stop unwanted behavior? I need something like the Dog Whisperer, who can say "Tssh" to a pack of dogs and they all back off.
 

R2elk

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My turkeys have some food aggression. Whenever I enter the yard, they crowd me and grab stuff out of my hands. When my chickens get pushy, I tap them on the head and they back off. This doesn't work for turkeys. What is the turkey equivalent of pecking/tapping on the back of the head to stop unwanted behavior? I need something like the Dog Whisperer, who can say "Tssh" to a pack of dogs and they all back off.
Carry a broom with you and use it to keep them at "broom's length".

I do not have a problem with food aggression but my poultry always have free access to food. I never let their feeders run empty.

Because of how I raise all my poultry, none of my poultry will approach or display aggression to any human. Even when tossing "treats" none of them will come within arm's reach.
 

SarahGfa

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Broom works to keep them away, but I want to teach them to not be pushy in the first place. Something like a spray bottle in the face or smack them on the nose with a newspaper.

Turkeys used to have free access to food, but there were too many pests sharing the food. now they only have food twice a day (plus 200 acres of forage if they get up and walk a little).
 

R2elk

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Broom works to keep them away, but I want to teach them to not be pushy in the first place. Something like a spray bottle in the face or smack them on the nose with a newspaper.

Turkeys used to have free access to food, but there were too many pests sharing the food. now they only have food twice a day (plus 200 acres of forage if they get up and walk a little).
Smacking a turkey that is not fearful of people with anything will only increase their people aggression. Spraying a turkey with water from a hose may or may not work as some turkeys learn to love being sprayed or even playing in sprinklers.

The only thing that I know that will work to remove their aggression is to start culling them. Make sure the other turkeys see the capture and removal of the offending turkey.

My poultry only get fed in their respective coops which greatly diminishes the number of "pests" that can gain access to the feed.

Turkeys that do not have any fear of people will see any "punitive" acts by you as aggression on your part and will respond in kind. They do not fear you like your chickens do. They do not understand "punishment".
 

iwltfum

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Sep 10, 2018
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You need to work around how they want to act. If they crowd around you when you walk into their area. Then toss a handful of grain through the fence before you walk in to distract them. That way you can do what you need to do while they are occupying themselves with the grain in the ground. You will not change their behavior, all you can do is out-smart them.

They will learn to respect the broom, but you will always need it if you go that route.
 

SarahGfa

Crowing
Jan 26, 2018
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You need to work around how they want to act. If they crowd around you when you walk into their area. Then toss a handful of grain through the fence before you walk in to distract them. That way you can do what you need to do while they are occupying themselves with the grain in the ground. You will not change their behavior, all you can do is out-smart them.
That's kind of what started it. When they were little, I would go into the yard and throw some grain to get them away from my feet. They learned that if they act pushy and annoying, I will throw food to make them go away.
Turkeys that do not have any fear of people will see any "punitive" acts by you as aggression on your part and will respond in kind. They do not fear you like your chickens do. They do not understand "punishment".
What about a dog whistle? Rattling a can of pennies? How do turkeys reinforce pecking order in their own flock?
My chickens don't fear me... they crowd around me sometimes too. A simple tap on the head and they back off. It's not punishment, they just "get it".
 

R2elk

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How do turkeys reinforce pecking order in their own flock?
Once established the pecking order seldom has issues until one of the lower members gets brave enough to try to move up. At that time it can turn into an all out battle that can last for days if the ones involved are evenly matched.

Reinforcement of the pecking order can turn into an all out battle or a seemingly endless chase and harassment of the offending member.
 

SarahGfa

Crowing
Jan 26, 2018
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@R2elk Is this food aggression or is it territorial? This is not my video but it is exactly like what I deal with every morning.
 

R2elk

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@R2elk Is this food aggression or is it territorial? This is not my video but it is exactly like what I deal with every morning.
Both. He was encouraging the behavior. When they attacked he rewarded them by feeding them reinforcing their bad behavior. Running from them only encouraged them even more.
 

SarahGfa

Crowing
Jan 26, 2018
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Both. He was encouraging the behavior. When they attacked he rewarded them by feeding them reinforcing their bad behavior. Running from them only encouraged them even more.
Do you think the behavior can be corrected, or is it better to cull everyone and start over? My males are having daily slapfights with each other, so they have been in an aggressive mood in general.
 

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