Free range heritage or coop/pen BB's

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by joecarrr, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. joecarrr

    joecarrr Out Of The Brooder

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    We just bought a house on 5 acres with a few coops/pens, pond. My wife wants to get pekin ducks. We plan to do pastured broiler chickens. (we've done them in the past). I'm thinking about raising meat turkeys but don't know which route I want to go. I would love to have free range birds that roost in the trees and if I decide to breed them for more birds next year, I can. I haven't done a lot of research on breeds yet but I love the way the royal palms look but looks are on the low end of my priorities. If heritage/free range is going to be too much of a hassle, I will just get some BB's and raise them in a coop/pen. Here are my concerns.

    Kids: I have a 3,6 and 16 year old boys. Will the heritage turkeys bully them?

    Predators: No signs of coyotes yet but we have coons, ferel cats, possums, etc. Will turkeys be ok around small predators?

    Range: How far will they range? To my east I have a neighbor that is pretty close. To the west the house is abandoned and the place just grows wild so it's pretty much CRP grass and brush. In the pic below, you can see that my front field where my garden will be is about 2 acres and the back field where I am putting in deer food plots and planting some trees is about 2 acres. Do you think they will stay in my 1 acre yard area? There is brush, trees, and tall grass all along the lawn edge.

    http://s761.photobucket.com/user/joecarrr/media/yard_zpsb024a51b.jpg.html


    Meat/Feed conversion: How is the meat on heritage birds? I don't want to feed a bird $100 in food for 15 pounds of meat. I am willing to spend extra for great tasting meat but I'm not rich.
     
  2. allergymama

    allergymama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry, I'm not going to be super helpful, but...We are also looking at adding turkeys to our menagerie this year and I have been reading Storey's Guide to Turkeys and he has some excellent charts in there on feed/meat ratios for each breed. You might take a look there.

    Also, as far as bullying, we had a goose that was a real bully. Started going after cars, used to chase me around on the lawn mower, etc. She started going after my 4 year old and 10 year old, too, and that was enough. We tried the flap your arms at her thing (making yourself look big and scary), which didn't work. From some advice here, we caught her, and had each of the kids hold her neck to the ground (not hard or anything) and nary a problem with her going after them after that. I think geese are notoriously meaner than turkeys, so I'm guessing this would work with them, too. Now, if we could have just figured out a way for her to stop attacking cars, before she attacked the one traveling 55 mph... [​IMG]
     
  3. joecarrr

    joecarrr Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks, I will check that out. That sounds like a great way to show them who the "alpha" is. I hope we don't get a bully but if we do, I will try it.
     
  4. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What a lovely setup you have! I'm envious of the pond. If we had one my husband wouldn't have a good reason to nix my desire to add ducks to my flock. We have 18 acres in the mountains but there are so many predators around here I only let my chickens and turkeys out to free range for a few hours in the afternoon when my Anatolian Shepherd is out with them and/or I'm outside doing yard work. So, keep that in mind when I tell you what my heritage turkey's cost to raise.

    The summer of 2013 I raised 4 Royal Palm turkeys. They are good flyers and quite friendly. I had to chase them off of the top of their 6 foot fence in the evenings on a regular basis to get them safely locked up for the night. They cost me about $40 a piece, about $10 per poult plus $30 in feed cost. The toms were both around 12 pounds butchered and the hens only about 6 pounds. I have heard that they are good forragers and I probably could have saved money on feed if I had given them more access to a larger plot of ground. I never had trouble with them going too far in the time they were outside. Mostly they wandered down to the house and watched me through the kitchen windows. They were delicious however and encouraged me to try again the following summer.

    [​IMG]


    This summer I raised 6 Bourbon Red Turkeys. They were also good flyers and friendly although I could see how their inquisitive nature and tendancy follow me around and surround me on all sides might be intimidating to a small child. I had one hen who was constantly sneaking up behind me and trying to steal my watch or engagement ring. There was no agression in her behavior, just curiousity and an interest in shiny things. Oh, say no to colorful toenail polish and open toed shoes if you have turkeys. They did range farther than my Royal Palms did and several times I had to go looking for them. Fortunately they respond to my voice so when they heard me calling they called back and I found them and led them home. My suggestion would be that you keep them confined for the first...maybe 8 weeks and then let them out for short periods of time when you are around. Always call them back to you with some sort of special turkey treats (I used scratch grains or things like seeds from a cantelope) so that they get used to coming when called.

    By the way, I started my summer with 8 Bourbon Red turkeys and lost two one night to a raccoon. I had thought that the turkeys were large enough (around 4 months old) to not require being locked up during the night. Two or three nights later I came down to the turkey enclosure and found the two dead, one with only the head chewed off and the second with a few bite marks and a few mouthfulls of breast meat missing. So sad. Perhaps if they had been free to fly higher up into a tree rather than just 4 feet up on a roost they could have fended better, but racoons can climb perfectly well too, as can bobcats and pine martens which we also have around here.

    My total cost came out to about $50 per turkey but that included the cost of the two who were killed so the actual cost per turkey would have been somewhat less. The hens were around 8 pounds and the toms just over 16 pounds.
     
  5. joecarrr

    joecarrr Out Of The Brooder

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    I'll trade ya my 5 acres/pond for your 18 acres in the mountains![​IMG]
    That sounds annoying that they follow you around like that. I can imagine working on the car and having turkeys pecking at me.. lol.
    How old were your palms and bourbons when you butchered them?
    Thanks for all they info
     
  6. inioluwa

    inioluwa Chillin' With My Peeps

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    nigeria
    Pls can give artificial inseminate to my 24weeks old hens,I have 8 hens 2 tom
     
  7. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That image of you working on the car and having turkeys pecking at you is spot on with my experience in working on a building project or trying to dig potatoes with an attentive fan club. Not only will they peck at you but they'll examine your tools, knock over your coffee can full of nails and generally make a nusance of themselves. With 18 acres (plus the national forrest we are adjacent to) they are more interested in digging in the potted plants on my patio than hunting grasshoppers 15 feet away. Plus when you shout them or try to shoo them away they all gobble at you. That said, I'm raising more next summer. There is something endearing and entertaining about them (although my husband doesn't think so). Plus they taste wonderful. The meat of both breeds has been rich and flavorful. The texture of the turkey breast meat has been almost like chicken dark meat. It still has that turkey flavor but none of the dry tastelessness of so many turkey breasts.

    Anyway, my Bourbon Red hens were about 6 1/2 months old and the toms about 7 months old when I butchered them. I had 2 hens and 4 toms and the poor hens were getting so sick of the toms that they would fly out of the enclosure every morning just to get away from them. It seemed easier to resolve the situation by taking the two hens.

    My Royal Palm turkeys...it looks like that cost information is on my old computer but I'm going to say 28+ weeks.
     
  8. MountainDirt

    MountainDirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for sharing some of the experiences of raising turkeys. I'm getting Bourbon Reds and Chocolates late spring and I've been reading everything I can on them before they get here :)
     

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