first time raising turkeys

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by FamilyOfChickens, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. FamilyOfChickens

    FamilyOfChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 24, 2007
    Northwest Indiana
    So, after having had chickens for a few years, a few days ago we ordered twenty turkey poults from McMurray. We've been reading through the Storey's Guide to Raising Turkeys and have found it to be quite useful, but I was wondering if all of you have any advice. We ordered 10 Giant White, 8 Broad Breasted Bronze, and 2 Narragansett.
    The poults (along with 27 chicks) are due to arrive the week of May 11. We're planning on building a coop and run once the weather warms up.
    Our chickens usually freerange, but many friends and family who have kept turkeys say how much they poop, and how it gets all over the place, so the turkeys won't be freeranging but occasionally. We plan on building a covered pen attached to the coop, but I have some questions about that. For 20 turkeys (perhaps less considering mortality), how large should the pen be? And of what fencing material? Also, is there a way the pen could be moved easily? Or is there a particular grass that holds up well in a pen? That was another worry.
    We were thinking the coop will be either 8 x 12, or 10 x 10. Is 100 sq. ft. a good size? As for the design of the coop, any recommendations? We might be turning it into a goat shed ([​IMG] ) after the turkeys are done.

    Also, the poults and chicks should be fine together until we move them into their respective coops, correct?
    Oh, and we do have a good processing center (I think that's what you call it?) nearby, so the butchering and cleaning aspect of it is all taken care of.

    Thanks guys [​IMG]
  2. Pumpkinpup

    Pumpkinpup Poultry Princess

    Jul 16, 2008
    North-West Georgia
    In my experience it's not good to keep baby turkeys and chicks together because turkeys try to eat everything in sight , like a little kid. They pick at everything and are very taxing on the chicks as a result. They pull fuzz and toes and peck at eyes and beaks, etc. Keep them seperate.
    I also learned the hard way that turkey poults can not handle moisture or cold so be very very careful even after they are fully feathered!
  3. ShadyGlade

    ShadyGlade Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think that 100 sq. foot of run sounds very small for twenty turkeys. Turkeys are also susceptible to black head disease which chickens are fairly immune to so I generally don't allow my turkeys near chickens until they are adults. The Narragansett turkeys will grow more slowly than the BB Turkeys and may well be squashed before they reach a good size. I had a Beltsville White hen crushed under the weight of a regular sized tom & not even a BB!
  4. mooman

    mooman Dirty Egg Eater

    Apr 9, 2008
    Marietta, SC
    No experience with turkeys yet but will be trying it this summer and have been doing my research (I've also read storeys front to back:))

    I think the 100sq ft sounds small too, but storeys gives 5sqft of run space as thier guideline, but they also suggest thier beaks be clipped.

    I've heard that the bb bronze, once fully feathered are a bit like cornish crosses in that they would rather waddle over to the feeder than try and hop over a 3ft fence.

    I will be brooding mine in a secure coop and then moving them to a section of garden (4ft fence) once they start to get crowded.

    I will be getting some bourbon reds to keep as pets and hopefully breeders. They will be freerange once mature and kept seperate from the meat birds. Since there will only be four and they will be brooded on the edge of the woods I'm hoping the poop problem won't be too bad
  5. DawnSuiter

    DawnSuiter Chillin' With My Peeps

    I've read and re-read storey's guide to turkeys... I feel it is really lacking compared to the chicken version (i have both).

    100sf is too small... for sure
    I'd guess that would accommodate FULL TIME only 5 turkeys if everyone were well behaved. I have 2 turkey hens in 100 sf and I think they need more space for what it's worth.

    And a 4ft fence isn't going to keep young turkeys very long... they can fly to rooftops!!! Toms won't fly as much I hear when they get big, but turkey hens will be able to.

    Glad you have somewhere to get them processed.. that is HANDY!
  6. mooman

    mooman Dirty Egg Eater

    Apr 9, 2008
    Marietta, SC
    so you don't think four feet will contain bb bronze turkeys or are you refering specifically to heritage breeds? There will be about a dozen kept in a 1100 sq ft section of garden. Would four feet of fence and an additional 2 feet of string wrapped arround corner posts work?
  7. sandspoultry

    sandspoultry Everybody loves a Turkey

    Feb 10, 2008
    Eastern NC
    Quote:Once the BB types get some weight on them I would think 4 foot fence would be fine. When they are younger/less weight they will be able to clear that. We have 6 foot fence around our turkey areas and the heritage hens can clear that with ease if they want to. The toms pretty much stay on the ground.

    Steve in NC
  8. ShadyGlade

    ShadyGlade Chillin' With My Peeps

    My Heritage Turkeys can fly up to roost in the rafters of the barn. If I'm not careful that's how I find out that their wing feathers have molted & regrown. . .
  9. mooman

    mooman Dirty Egg Eater

    Apr 9, 2008
    Marietta, SC
    Well, if the fence doesn't keep them in, maybe it will at least keep them out (of the garden). I can either try to pasture them in the garden or let them freerange the undeveloped woods behind my house.

    Ohh well....That's the thing about poultry, they are always surprising you by what they can get into (and out of). Thats why my chickens know that when I'm coming at them yelling "whooditty whooditty!!!" (ala ben kenobi to the jawas in star wars) They know to move it.
  10. ohiofarmgirl

    ohiofarmgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 22, 2009
    Free range those babies! We had turks for the first time last year and LOVE them.. no really...we LOVE them. Many people tried to discourage us but we're glad we got them - you will be also. I highly recommend that you free range them - keeps them busy and cuts down the the feed bill - even the BB whites. Our Bourbon Reds would rather free range then eat bagged food - even corn.

    We found that a 4 ft fence is ok - as long as they have enough to do/eat within the fence. All of ours could fly - including the BB Whites right up until.. gulp.. they came to dinner. And from time to time I find a BR hen up on top of the house (drives the cats nuts). We keep our chicken chicks away from the turks - one of the BR hens hates our chickens and our goats come to think of it... and she sometimes chases our barncat...

    We found that the turkey poults needed a bit more TLC when we first got them. I would not keep them with the chicks - a big plastic tub works well as a brooder for a while then you can section off a portion of your shed with plywood as a larger brooder (dont forget the light and a sturdy top that cant be opened by critters!).

    I think they say to wait until they are 8 weeks old before taking them outside - and they will be a bit scared and confused at first. We kept our in a shady area at first.. then they got used to it.

    We found that they are not stupid/dumb - they just dont like new things. But the love apples or cabbage or anything else that rolls that they can chase. They are very very interesting birds. And they are delicious.. oh the stock we made.. the roasted bird.. and lots of turkey fajitas.

    Good luck!

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