Heritage Turkeys: a new adventure


5 Years
Apr 14, 2014

A year after acquiring various chickens and a couple Chinese brown geese, we decided to try turkeys this year. I opted for the heritage type, loving their self sufficiency and appreciated their history as being breeds that our forefathers raised prior to the industrialization/commercialization of agriculture. A conservationist at heart, it was a bonus to learn about the Livestock Breeds Conservancy and their role in preserving these heritage breeds, so I am very excited to begin this adventure and hope to expand it. I decided on the Bourbon Reds, I got three poults. I hope to get a tom and a hen for continued breeding as long as they pass confirmation and will be specimens that will help improve the breed and the third for a Thanksgiving meal. We have had our new babies for about a week so far. I noticed one seemed weaker then the other two, so keeping a very close eye on that one. That one seems to be doing okay so far. My biggest concerns right now is the constant pecking of each others beaks, which I have read mixed reviews. Some say its a instinctual behavior, seen in groups brooded by hens. Others suggest that there is too much competition for heat, food, water, and space. The little one that seemed weak seems to get the brunt of it. No damage can be detected. They are in a big bucket I really don't think space is an issue, their thermometer reads 95 degrees, they have constant access to food and water, I make sure they are always refreshed, and they are under a red/infrared lamp, not a white one. I also have a paper towel roll cut in half in there as entertainment. My other concern is that one little turkey at times just yells! They will for extended period of time chirp, or I'd say screech loudly, and repeatedly. They won't shut up until I go into their room and sit their with them. They quiet right down. My observation during this is that the temperature looks right, 95-100 Degrees F. They have water, they have food. Why is this little baby making so much noise? It's not stuck, it's not acting cold by huddling so I think my thermometer is working? I am at a loss! Otherwise, week one is going well! Reading tons of material about pasture raising turkeys! very excited.
I had thought that might be a factor. Watching them tho, they dont look like they are "running" from the heat, they hang out closest to the lamp and seem active. I also have a Kleenex box in there with them so if they got overheated they had a shelter to retreat into and then i would know its too hot for them. Im watching for panting as well, but have not seen that. I can certainly cool it down a couple degrees, see if they calm.
Good luck!

Welcome to BYC!

Aggression in the brooder comes from 2 things...over crowded and too much heat. So you need to make more space and lower the heat. Simple as that.

Good luck with your birds and welcome to our flock!
Thank you everyone for your input! This is pretty neat, I have never joined a blog before.....

I lowered the heat and it seemed to help for a bit, but then I still have one noisy cricket in there. Seems to be only one, I will figure out a new brooding box to increase space to see if that helps. I also have two Barred Rock chicks that I'm brooding, separately of course, and they are quiet happy. Adding to the mix, I have four chickens from last years brooding project, all good layers and doing well. Even through our cold winter we had.

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