Heritage breed turkeys - better with chickens?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by jstamper, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. jstamper

    jstamper Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 16, 2010
    Grayson County
    I have a layer flock, raise broilers occasionally, and for a couple of years, have grown out a few broad-breasted turkeys.

    A few years ago, I raised a new batch of birds (layers) in a place that did not have poultry on it previously. I also grew out about 10 broad-breasted turkeys with this new flock, and they did great. I floor brood over deep litter under a hover.

    Last year, I attempted to grow out some more turkeys, in the same facility, with some chicks but also with the established layer flock. This time, all of the turkeys died but one. They suddenly died at a couple months of age, no symptoms, just would find one or two dead every day or two until only one hen was left. She is still alive, currently residing with broilers but also around the layers all the time. I had them on high-protein starter, and they had access to a nice paddock of clover once they were feathered. When they started dying, I switched to a medicated turkey feed, to no avail.

    All these birds roost inside, and range a 1.5 acre lot. No chickens have had any health issues[​IMG] at all, appear healthy, and are productive.

    My question: is the additional disease resistance (vs. broad breasted) of heritage-breed turkeys such that they would fit into my system (raised with chickens, both new and established, on land previously used by poultry), or do heritage breeds also pretty much require either new land or isolation from chickens?

    Poultry is not the focus of my farm, so I am not willing to expend the effort to establish turkey-specific facilites/foraging areas. I would like to have a few around, so if heritage breeds fit better with chickens than broad-breasted types, that would be great.
  2. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    I will preface my comments with, I know only a little about turkeys.

    I know one farm where no turkeys are because they don't survive on that peice of land for what ever the reason. THis is from the poutryman himself-- and he is a very good poultryman. So sometimes the environment can limit having turkeys.

    If your goal is to only have a few anyway, perhaps get a few and see who lives and who dies. Sorry this sounds callus. WIthout testing or a diagnosis, it is hard to know the answer to your question definitively. If you want long term turkeys, heritage are better for walking around and generally more active than the BBW/BBB. My BBW?BBB stopped moving by 5 months old-- but then I purposely grained them well for freezer camp.

    Good luck.
  3. flocksalot

    flocksalot Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2011
    Poynette WI
    Come on Arielle, didn't they move from the freezer to the oven to the table? Sorry couldn't resist.


    Check with your local ag extension office to see if you have black head in the area. Chickens can be carriers and show no signs.

    We raise our birds separate but they have been known to mingle. Our flocks are free ranged and the turkeys tend to follow wherever we may go. Which means when we are down by the horses and chickens they come and snoop. They will gobble down some feed drink the water and chase the chickens out of their favorite areas. We have had no health issues (big knock on wood) but we still worry.

    I haven't heard of any black head in our area, but I don't keep up to date with it. That would be my first step.

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