Help! Newbie needs to know about aggressive turkeys

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Parrotchick, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. Parrotchick

    Parrotchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2009
    Boonsboro MD
    I'm working at a petting farm this month (only open three times a year for about a month each time) and am assumed to be the resident bird expert because I have a lot of chicken and duck knowledge. But I don't know anything about turkeys and our turkeys have been getting really aggressive in the last week. I was wondering if this was normal if there were any suggestions besides sequestering anyone.

    We have one pen that I man that has chickens, a pair of stray turkeys that come and go and pretty much mind their own business, and 5 young Emden geese that were re-located after the turkeys attached them and made their necks very bloody. I work there. The other pen, which I would say is a few hundred square feet, has about 20 turkeys (Royal Palm, Bourbon Red, and Black) and a dozen or so ducks of different breeds. The turkeys are mostly young, about 6 months or so, but I guess the big struttingToms are probably from last year. I can't say for sure how many of them are boys I know there are AT LEAST 3 older toms, and I'm guessing another 4 or 5 tom teenagers. The ducks are maybe half drakes but they all get along with each other.

    I was surprised when I went to the turkey and duck pen how curious and assertive the turkeys were, investigating all my clothes and jewelry and not being terrified of little kids who would chase them and do little kid things to them. But the ducks are so intimidated by the turkeys, nobody can get near them and they can hardly get to the treats I give them. In the last week, the turkeys have gotten pretty violent with the other birds and even each other. We removed the Emden geese. The other day they pecked the curuncles on the top of the Muscovy drake's head so it looked like a bloody pulp. Yesterday they were running after and biting a crested Pekin female duck and she was limping. When I removed her, they started chasing attacking anothe Pekin. If none of us workers were in the pen, they continued to chase after random ducks. They have also singled out some other turkeys to pick on and they are just so brutal. I haven't been able to discrern how many of the turkeys are the bullies or even for sure if it's just the females doing it. But we're having to separate so many birds to sick bay it's getting out of hand.

    We're only open another week. I know the owners are open to selling whatever turkeys anyone wants to buy but they generally keep the birds from year to year for petting. I was wondering if maybe the birds were aggressive because they didn't have enough wandering room. But workers who have been there for several years say they've never had this problem with other flocks of turkeys before and they've used the same size pens. So is this behavior normal for turkeys? Is there anything we can do? I want to move the ducks out but there might not be enough room in the chicken area, and that doesn't solve the aggression amongst the turkeys. BTW, this fighting isn't mutual fighting between 2 birds, like I see with roosters. And it doesn't look to me like confused mating behavior either. Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated. I feel really bad for the ducks and geese especially.

    Also, I had been thinking of getting a pair of turkeys for myself. But are they just so assertive in general that my ducks and chickens will be scared away?
  2. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    How big is the area they are in? If they are crowded they will attack other birds.

    If the customers are chasing them there is your problem, over time they will get more aggressive as they get older. Turkeys are large and powerful birds one of them turning on a kid wouldn't be good.

  3. MandyH

    MandyH You'll shoot your eye out!

    TUrkeys can be penned with other animals but do better when penned with just turkeys. I know people on here house different species together but I have had tom turkeys kill chickens and ducks and mine all free range.
  4. pdpatch

    pdpatch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2008
    Hastings, Nebraska
    It may be that they are trying to cull the combined flock of weak members or what they perceive as weak members. It's fall and that is what happens in wild flocks this time of year. We had that happen this year with BBB's, the senior Tom kept picking on the other two Tom's. I finally took the aggressive tom and sat on him for about 5 minutes or so and he got the idea he was not the senior I was. So he stopped picking on the others. BBB's usually are not that aggressive so doing this with other type of turkeys may or may not work to well. I have done the same thing with Spanish Blacks and it sort of worked for a while.

    When I say sit on them I usually grab there neck and make sure the wings are tucked close to there body so they can't flap them. I used just enough force to control them and not hurt them. I have on hand around there neck to they can't reach back and peck me.

  5. Parrotchick

    Parrotchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2009
    Boonsboro MD
    Thanks for your replies. I'm guessing the pen area to be maybe 500-600 square feet and I'm pretty certain the tight quarters must be contributing to whatever seasonal aggression and nippy personalities the turkeys have. With less than a week left before closing for the season, the owners are not going to make any major changes, including moving the ducks. They think that it would be unfair to the chickens (which I've been told they keep from year to year but who knows) to add the ducks in with them. I think these particular ducks would be fine, but I'm just a paeon at this job. It looks like all I can do now is assert myself as the dominant tom and pin the bullies as suggested.

    I am extra bummed about the whole situation because I found out today that the two sweet injured ducks I had taken out to heal (and not be seen by visitors) have since been sold to a lady who plans to butcher them. Now I know people do eat birds, but I myself haven't eaten any poultry at all in ten years as it would be too much like eating my friends. The whole scenario disturbs me because I feel that as a petting farm the animals should be given better treatment, like pets rather than livestock. I think that keeping them year to year and giving them names makes them tamer and therefore more appealing to the visitors. Not that I'm saying the owners are cruel or totally unreasonable. I suppose that's just not their business model and maybe it's not economically desirable for them. But I certainly would have bought these birds for more than whatever that lady did had I known they were being sent to freezer camp for the crime of being injured by bully turkeys. To me it's like hearing that one of the pet dogs had been slaughtered to make stew.

    I'm also wondering now what the intention is for the rest of the ducks and geese-I am feeling a tad less sympathy for the turkeys right now but I wonder about them too. I had thought of buying one or two, but if their fate otherwise is going to be with the butcher, it will be too hard to pick who I'm going to save, like Sophie's Choice. Drat! I know I can't save the world, but I see myself taking on all the birds from both their petting farms in the state, and then having fifty birds to re-home. Sigh. Anyone want to adopt some birds?
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    I've heard that you are supposed to pick them up and pet them when they show aggression. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. Tony O

    Tony O Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:They have to pay for the feed somehow. Selling excess birds helps to do that, even if it's for food. Hay, people have to eat too.
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    The whole scenario disturbs me because I feel that as a petting farm the animals should be given better treatment, like pets rather than livestock.

    The elite? They should get better treatment than the other birds people consume? I just don't see this distinction. Killing them for food is not poor treatment....they are here one second and the lights go out the next and they feel no more. I don't call that poor treatment.

    Poor treatment to me would be defined as being a duck that is confined to a pen so clumsy children can pet me whether I want them to or not. Never having the freedom to just be a duck and being someone's entertainment and plaything over and over for years until I die.

    Livestock or pets, being penned and handled all the time instead of having the freedom to range, swim, forage and just be a duck is just cruel.​
  9. pascopol

    pascopol Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 6, 2009
    Tampa Bay
    I support your statement all the way. I am an opponent of making "pets" of domestic fowl in general.

    Some people on this board look down on those who raise animals for food. They keep their "pets" for their own selfish reasons without regard for animal real needs and particular species future and benefis.

    All the progress and development of poultry and other farm animals was made by breeders and keepers who raised them for utilitarian purposes, NOT as pet toys.

    Those who keep farm animals as pets contribute NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH to species well being and development.
  10. thaiturkey

    thaiturkey Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 22, 2010
    I think it's great to see children introduced to real animals rather then images on the tv. However, I'm not sure that petting zoos or farms are doing it well. Apart from the tormenting way in which children pull and paw domestic animals, letting them close to semi-wild creatures that can bite and claw seems risky to me. The children may gain a fear that they never had and the animals may become more difficult to control.

    If such an establishment is going to allow children close to animals, surely it must first ensure that all the necessary knowledge is to hand. I don't think it's good enough to just put turkeys in with other birds and leave it to a 'chicken and duck' person to make decisions. If the animals are good enough to be regarded sentimentally as too good to eat, then they also deserve proper and expert care. If only for the safety of the children it's an essential.

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