First time with turkeys

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by psychoroo, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. psychoroo

    psychoroo Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 19, 2013
    Wicomico Church, VA
    Ordered 15 Narragansett poults to be delivered end of March. Gives me plenty of time to set up the coop and run.

    So, for all you experienced turkey raisers, if you could give a newbie one piece of advice, what would it be? Anything is game, advice can range from coop size, run size, feeding, as pets or food or both, to processing, cooking, or eating.

    Looking forward to your responses.
     
  2. JonathanL23

    JonathanL23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 20, 2014
    How old will they be. Day olds up to around 6 weeks old can be scary, as they need a heat lamp. You will need turkey grower as babys or young turkeys. Mine are 3 months old and still prefer grower over chicken. Scratch. I owned turkeys 5 years ago also. For your coop I'd say make sure you fence up to 8 feet as when there young they don't weight much and can fly pretty high. Until they get older and gain weight which will keep them pretty much grounded.
     
  3. Dry Creek Ranch

    Dry Creek Ranch Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 20, 2014
    Missouri USA
    I started off with 19 (5 hatched in incubator and 14 hatched under hen) turkeys at the end of May. Took the babies from the hen and raised them with the incubator hatch in a 110 gal oval stock tank with pine shavings for bedding and a 60 watt lightbulb 8 inchs from the bedding for heat until 4 weeks old. At that point they were locked in their own chicken coop. At 6 weeks I let them come and go from the chicken coop into my chicken pen (492' of electrified poultry netting) with the mom turkey and chickens. I lost two to exposure (it rained that night and dropped to the low 60's). I found them dead at the entrance to the chicken coop. Too stupid to step into it. I lost another two days later. It drowned in 5 inches of water in a 12 inch high kiddie pool for the ducks. I lost 2 more to the electric poultry netting. They got tangled in it and shocked to death. Once they hit the 8 week mark the deaths suddenly stopped (I guess the brain finally developed or the dumb ones were weeded out). Their mother was a Bourbon Red and there father was a wild turkey. The mother would fly over the fence and be gone half of the day before returning to roost and lay her eggs the next morning. I ended up with a rainbow of colors. I fed them 27% game bird grower for the first 8 weeks and after that they ate what I fed my other birds. 16% layer pellets and chicken scratch. All my birds are free range so they get all the plants and bugs they can find in the woods and pastures. They roost in the trees inside the chicken pen at night and free range outside the pen during the day. They come back and roost in the pen at sunset. The toms are in the 12-15 pound range and the hens are probably in the 8-10 pound range now. I will let them grow out till spring and hopefully the hens will pick a mate that is not on the wild side.
     
  4. psychoroo

    psychoroo Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 19, 2013
    Wicomico Church, VA

    They'll be day old chicks when they ship. I have a brooder set up that I use for raising broilers, fully enclosed with a heat lamp, feeders and waterers. I'll make sure to clean it out and sterilize it prior to their arrival.

    As far as roaming, do they go far? Do they always return home prior to dark? I'm planning on a 8' X 16' coop, will that be latge enough so they feel comfortable laying in there or will they go off and try to find their own spot? I am planning on keeping at least 1 tom and 4 hens to breed.
     
  5. Dry Creek Ranch

    Dry Creek Ranch Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 20, 2014
    Missouri USA
    8'x16' sounds big enough to me especially if you cull the 15 birds down to 1 tom and 4 hens by breeding season.

    My turkeys are the adventurers as far as free ranging goes. My chickens, ducks, and geese never go further than 300 yards (usually no more than 100 yards) from the pen. The turkeys however go much further. I do not clip my birds wings so that they have a chance if a predator goes after them. The turkey hens and younger toms can fly really well but my older tom is too big to get off the ground. They always return at sunset to roost in the trees inside the chicken pen. Make sure the young turkeys know where home is. I lock mine in a chicken coop from 6-8 weeks of age. They will not roost in the chicken coop when they get older (they like trees) but they feel safe in the chicken pen at night and that and food and water keeps them coming back.

    If you free range them be prepared to have turkey poo on anything higher than the ground. Truck, house roof, barn roof, etc. If you have a garage you will learn to keep your truck in it and the door closed. Once they figure out that trees are better to hang out in they leave the truck and roofs alone.

    For egg laying, my turkey nest boxes are 24"H x 24"W x 36"L with a 16"x16" opening. I will lock up my hens and one tom during breeding season next year. This year my hen mated with a wild turkey but made her nest in the nest box. After those hatched (14 chicks) and I removed them she made a second nest in the woods and came out a month later with only 2 chicks.

    If you keep them penned up make sure you only have one tom per enclosed pen. The toms will fight to the death during breeding season if confined. Also, feed them grass clippings along with their regular food. Mine are constantly grazing the grass. They LOVE watermelon.

    [​IMG]
    Turkeys, ducks, and geese hanging out in the yard during a snowy day. The kiddie pool in the back ground is cleaned and filled every morning even on below freezing days. Geese get cranky if they do not have their daily bath.

    [​IMG]
    My back pasture. The chickens, geese, and ducks do not usually go past the first tree line. The turkeys regularly go past the pasture to the second tree line at the top of the hill.

    [​IMG]
    Turkeys returning to roost in the trees and on top of one of the chicken coops inside the chicken pen before dark.
    The first couple of times they get rained on they look miserable but after that they develop a protective oil on their feathers that water proofs them almost like a duck. They refuse to roost indoors.
     
  6. JonathanL23

    JonathanL23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That should be big enough. But I wouldn't put them out side till there about 8 weeks this way the are big enough and have a immune system. They shouldn't be around other birds like chickens during the first 8 weeks either. And keep a eye on them the first few nights my turkeys I have now stayed out till dark outside meanwhile everyone else went in, they will learn to go back but you might have to show them the way for a week or so.
     

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