help - tom killing poults

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by ulysses, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. ulysses

    ulysses Out Of The Brooder

    13
    0
    22
    Jul 19, 2008
    West Chester, PA
    My red bourbon tom is killing the poults. I just caught him pecking it, it was already dead. It appeared to be mounting it or holding it still between his legs. This is the second dead one we found in 2 days. A silkie just mysteriously died as well.

    Any ideas as to what is going on? My husband was wondering if it was killing other males? We don't if any of the dead ones were in fact males though.

    Thanks for any info you may have.
     
  2. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,152
    23
    231
    Nov 19, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    Toms will kill poults. Separate them immediately or he will kill them all. That's just the way adult turkeys are -- I just lost one for the same reason this past week. I had thought my poults would be safe with the mother hen fending them off, but she couldn't protect them all.

    Toms perceive the poults as threats -- I think their thought process is like " who/what are these little things; they may be a threat, and since I am king, I will kill them".
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2009
  3. ulysses

    ulysses Out Of The Brooder

    13
    0
    22
    Jul 19, 2008
    West Chester, PA
    thank you for the quick reply.

    more info - hens are gone, only the tom and poults. he has been guarding them and keeping everyone/everything else away from them until the last couple of days. he had been being a "good dad", keeping them all together, showing them the food, etc. Now, all of the sudden, it has changed. Is this ccmmon as well?
     
  4. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    Toms will often try to mount them as well. I have to watch some of my smaller chickens etc.. because the Toms will get to carried away and get in a "love n mood" with them. They are way heavier and crush them..... [​IMG]
     
  5. ohiofarmgirl

    ohiofarmgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 22, 2009
    with with chicken annie - separate them immediately!!! dont be fooled by the 'good' behavior - just separate them.

    sorry about the loses
    :-(

    our turkey hens hatched their clutches in late june and they are just now being integrated. make sure they have plenty of room to get away when you do mix them together.
     
  6. ulysses

    ulysses Out Of The Brooder

    13
    0
    22
    Jul 19, 2008
    West Chester, PA
    Thanks for all of your help. At what point can I integrate them again? We have separated the Tom from everyone else, the turkey poults are with the chickens and ducks at this point - where they have been since day one. Anything else I should watch out for?
     
  7. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,152
    23
    231
    Nov 19, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    I do not know the full extent of your poult situation -- how old are they now? Are they with their mom? Are you keeping them under a brooder lamp? Are they BBWs or a heritage breed? Are they free-range or in a pen? How many grown toms/hens do you have?

    In general, you wouldn't want to keep birds with other birds not their size (even mature ones; even chickens) -- because of their predatory nature with each other -- they will pick on the small ones and it can be mild or quite serious to the point of death. So, generally, integrate them back when they are the same size and can at least defend themselves. For turkey poults I would say at about 3-4 months old.

    If the small ones are babies, they have the double effect of being naive and (sorry) fairly stupid. Poults and chicks just haven't learned the ropes yet -- how to run or fly away from danger, how to fight back, who to stay out of the way of.

    For example, my 3.5 week old poults are with their mom, who generally shields them from danger like hawks and cats, but I do not let her run with the other turkeys because they viciously peck at the poults' heads and try to kill them. She can't defend all 10 poults at once, so while she's charging one tom, the other toms will go after her poults, who are just sitting there and don't know what to do because their mom is away from them. Since the poults are kind of happy go lucky still, they'll even run toward their attackers because they are so trusting and they think, hey another turkey wahoo!

    Also, just a note -- poults need a high protein diet up to 8 weeks old and if they are just eating regular chicken feed it won't be enough. I buy 26% gamebird starter (a 50-lb bag is $12) and that's just for my turkey poults.
     
  8. Eggs4Sale

    Eggs4Sale Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2009
    Are there any turkey breeds that don't attack other turkey poults or chickens?
     
  9. wilds of pa

    wilds of pa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Our wild males do not kill there young.. we had hens with poults many times and the males never bothered them and just kinda of ignored them.. However we had hens on very rare occasions fight over the poults as to whom will be the mother and poults gotten hurt and killed in scuffles over this.
    Plenty of space is needed in allowing Hens to rear and raise clutches of poults.. space can be an issue in some cases.

    also Have the poults gotten wet? or do they have cover? I always mist my wild poults before they are exposed to the elements a few weeks while in the brooder. gets them ready for the exposure to moisture ..
    If they died for other reasons other than being killed by the male, he just may have been checking the dead poults out in his own way.. as for the silky, don't take much than a small whack on the head if having a vaulted skull.
    Could the silky have gotten trampled??
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2009
  10. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,152
    23
    231
    Nov 19, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    Actually, wilds, it's not the Big tom daddy that killed my poult, it was the 5 month old group of high-testosterone males (my Thanksgiving group) that has been charging the babies. I think they may be in the midst of establishing who's the biggest and baddest. It seems quite instinctual -- they just charge and peck at their heads.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by