How many turkeys should I get as a beginner?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by LaynaDon95, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We are going to order some BB whites next year for Thanksgiving/Christmas. This will be my first time raising turkeys and I have heard they are really good at killing themselves, so I'm wondering how many we should order? We will only need 2 or 3 .
     
  2. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    In massa chusetts we are required to purchase a minimum of 6. THis was a good number to manage. As they get very large, they eat huge amounts and have huge poos and hardly move. During these last 4 weeks, they require more management to move them to clean areas as they just prefer to lie down.

    None of mine died. If you can manage it, do 4-6 birds, you will love the meat and want more than the 2-3 birds.

    I have raised other turkeys, and yes, sometimes one dies here and there.
     
  3. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't think we have a minimum in Texas if I order from the hatchery. I know if I bought them from a feed store we have to get a minimum of 6.(which is really stupid, but whatever.)
    Thanks for your comment! :) I've never done this before, so I'l take all the advice I can get from those who have.
     
  4. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    The purpose of making the count 6 is to make people think twice about getting a cute little chick for Easter and then abandoning it when it grows and isn't cute any more. Coloring chicks is also illegal. Most folks serious about raising a few birds can handle 6.

    Death rates vary. THe most import part is keeping them warm in a draft free area for two months, and then give them a larger area that is still warm and protected. At 4 months old my 30 poults are free ranging nd roosting in the trees; during bad weather like now with 3 days of cold rain, we put them in a covered shelter to prevent foolish casualties. Older birds are in another shelter; not sure they need it but it makes me feel better.
     
  5. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know that that is why they have the rule, but I still think it is ridiculous. We shop up at TSC all the time and they know us there. They know we keep chickens. The almost all recognize us and ask us how we are doing, how to animals are, etc. Last spring when they had their chicks I asked to get 3 cochins (I think. Maybe 2) and the guy told me I had to get 6. When I asked why he said it was state law. Now I don't know about Massachusetts, but it most definitely not a state law that I could find in Texas. I even called the extension office and the guy said he was not aware of any such law. I called TSC and told them what happened and asked for clarification and the lady said it was their rule, not state law. So anyways. End rant.

    Would a kiddie pool work? I could put it in the garage. That would be draft free.
     
  6. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    Kiddie pool is a great idea. THey get tall quick, but I bet the sides are not easy for them to get over, so you shouldn't need a top for a while. You might need a larger size eventually, before they go outside.

    My local supply store knows me, and lets me buy just a few. I buy a lot of feed for my birds so they know I have a lot of poultry already.It is a private company and not big corp like TSC with rules to fit all locations. Perhaps you can find local breeder of heritage style turkeys? THough I still think you will be happy with 6 Broad breasted types as well. Or find someone to split the group with: buy 8 and you each take 4, that sort of thing. Have the other buyer lined up BEFORE buying as 8 is a lot to manage and feed for a first timer.

    good luck.
     
  7. frank53061

    frank53061 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well 6 would be great if that was all I had to buy the only place I could find my Poults was Cackle hatchery Mail order and the Minimum order was 15 and they sent 2 extra and all made it none died talk about a first time with Turkeys and the Feed and Poo there is a lot going in and a lot going out.
    I just got another order for a Christmas Turkey.
    The one I am going to dispatch for our Christmas that still leaves me with 14 one was sold for Thanks Giving.
    That's still a lot of food and poo.
    My magic number would be 6 for breeding 2 Toms and 4 Hens.
    That leaves me with 8 to sell or eat and the Hens are not big enough to eat yet so far its been my surplus Toms.
    As late in the year as it is I hope they wait till Spring to start laying eggs that would make my turkeys around 11 months old March 3rd.
     
  8. Celie

    Celie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is very early to buy BB turkeys as they only take 4 to 6 months to raise for a really nice size holiday bird. They really do much better in warmer weather as young poults, too. TSC made that rule to force you to but more than you want. I wouldn't buy anything from the one near me, because they put no value on safety. We needed a rigging to hold 800 pounds hoisted onto the roof and the guy there pounded the connectors on with a hammer, instead of the proper tools and could have killed someone. [​IMG] When I told him I didn't want it and he did not do the job correctly, he got mad and threatened me. I am not ever going to risk anyone's life on shoddy workmanship and this seams typical of what I have seen and heard of being the norm at TSC. They know squat about what they are selling! I will shut up about that![​IMG] If you order from a hatchery, most have a minimum of 15, because they need that many to keep the shipment warm. If it is during cooler weather or if the shipment will be going through a cooler area, they will put in a few extras free. The hatcheries do the same with chicks. Most local feed stores only sell BB turkeys and here in Louisiana will sell you only one if that is what you want. I have never seen dyed turkey poults. They stopped using the dye that was harmful to birds some years ago. Now it is legal to dye chicks with the safe new dyes they have developed for that purpose and some hatcheries will sell colored chicks in the spring, around Easter and ship within the US. I think it is food coloring based, that they use now, not sure exactly what the formula is, but we bought some for a spring fair and did not loose any birds. I sold some and bought several for the kids. None were Turkeys! If you wait til spring, I am sure you will find a feed store near you that sells BB turkeys. If you buy hens, they should get about 25 to 30 pounds at 20 to 22 weeks, Toms will get to be about 40 to 50 pounds in the same amount of time and the feed will also be proportionate. This is live weight. You will have 20% less weight after they are processed. So a hen will be about 20 to 24 pounds and a tom 30 to 40 pounds. BB Turkeys need to be fed according to the hatchery guidelines, because if left to eat as much as they want, they will usually develop leg and heart problems. If you want a smaller bird, say a 20 pound tom, you can process him in about 14 or 15 weeks, that's up to you. I agree with Frank, that for me, if I were you and needed 4 turkeys for the Holidays, I would buy 6, just in case, and if you are successful with all 6, the other 2 would make great roasts, ground turkey for burgers or casseroles, or you might just sell the other 2 to family or neighbors![​IMG]
    I hope I was of some help with your problem!
     
  9. hillfloweranch

    hillfloweranch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I started with 4 and raised them with chicks as they forget to eat and drink. my local feed store were very sweet when I repeatedly came to them with questions they were happy to help they even found the butcher when it came time. They also raised a bunch of turkeys so it was a lot of fun and we had bets going as to how big they were after they were dressed out. So I would definitely seek the advice from local feed stores and/or here in the forum. My tom was 35lbs dressed and the 3 hens were 23,24 & 26lbs. But it was really fun to do and it was the best tasting turkey I've ever had, I never had to baste him and the meat just fell off the bone and so flavorful. All I did was rub him with some garlic and stuffed him with some onions.
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  10. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We are not getting them yet. We will be ordering them in the spring. We are placing a fairly big order for broilers, layers, ducks and turkeys. We will have to get them a little early, but I don't see a way to avoid it as we are only placing one order and the meat birds have to come in the spring so it's not 1000 degrees come butchering time. We only have 3 feed stores in town. Lone Star carries chicks, ducklings and bunnies, but no poults. They don't have a minimum purchase either, which makes me very happy! [​IMG] Bowles carries chicks sometimes, but I'm not sure exactly when or for how long. I've never actually seen them. I could ask them if they ever get poults, 'cause I really don't know. The other is TSC and we have already discussed them. [​IMG] They don't carry poults anyways. I hope to wait until after the feed store's chicks are all gone before we place our order, 'cause it will be cheaper to get from them, but none of them carry meat birds so we will have to order anyways. And, as mentioned before, we CANNOT put it off too long or we won't ever butcher them. I know myself well enough to know that I will not be trudging out in 100+ degree weather to butcher chickens.
     

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