Need some good advice on breeds

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by farmin4fun, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. farmin4fun

    farmin4fun Out Of The Brooder

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    Jackson, Michigan
    Hello,

    I've been wanting to get a few turkeys for this spring. I've raised chickens for years with great success, but I'm a bit of a nooby when it comes to Turkeys. I was hoping someone could give me some good advice on what breed might work well for me. I was considering the Narragansett because I've heard they might fit my needs and I like their color, but I want to base my decision on advice from real people who raise turkeys and not from the limited information on the hatchery's website.

    Here is a list of my priorites in order of importance.

    1. can't fly really well so they're not constantly flying over my 6ft fence
    2. can mate naturally with good success
    3. descent sized meat bird
    4. Preferrably a descent forager that doesn't eat a ton.

    Any advice or tips on why you like a particular breed would be very much appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. erinszoo

    erinszoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We raise White Hollands (and are therefore prejudiced for them) and LOVE them. They are a heritage breed but a lot of people find them boring to raise because they are simply white turkeys. But they are the original turkeys that people raised for selling in the market. Their white feathers make them easy to clean and give a nice clean skin color. They are incredibly personable, almost like puppies with wings. Ours come running when they see us. They greet us at the gate and crawl up next to us to lay against us when we are sitting outside. They did fly some when they were smaller but once they reached breeding size the females are too heavy to fly and don't even try now. Our tom still flies up and sits on the fence everyday but that's as far as he's ever gone ... since his girls are in the yard. Lol. They eat like pigs ... as do most turkeys ... but they free range very well and have grown fond of pecans from our trees which we crush for them. One of our girls likes to help us dig in the garden beds and picks out all the grubs as we get to them and catches every poor grasshopper that dares venture into our yard. Given you are in the cold north, you might want to wait until later in the spring to get poults. They get chilled very easily and it can kill them. As we were told after our last brood where we lost several poults, they shouldn't touch the ground (get cold, be exposed to dirt, eat grass, etc) until they are over 8 weeks old, unlike chickens. AND they mate really well, as we just had four out of five eggs hatch with new babies ... setting another 20 eggs this week.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
  3. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    My birds free range at this point, so I can't address your fencing question other than the gneralizatin that young birds fly very well; my adults rarely fly, usually to get off his nighttime roost; and the local adult wild turkeys fly right up and over my house.

    ANy heritage type will mate naturally; some are heavier breasted than others from what I have read, like the bronze ( not talking BBB) and others are very slight apparently ( palms) I do see my Auburns are bigger than my bourbons. ANd the auburns are bigger than my sweetgrass--which baffles me.

    Some of the smaller birds are supposed to be heavier muscled for a heritage type, like the beltsville.

    I would expect them all to be good foragers; even my BBW foraged well until the last three weeks when they could hardly move. My birds seem to be pickier about what they eat compared to the chickens. WHen I toss out oats they wait, hoping for corn. THis could be only mine; perhpas others have a different experience.

    My advice is start small; try just a few. They are more friendly if you hand raise them. ANd they eat a lot. Not at the rate of the BBW, but over 8 months they eat the same as the BBW in 4-5 months.

    Perhaps if you determine the feeed available and then back into which breed. Faster growing birds need more food readily available, whether they forage to get it or you put it in a feeder. I"m trying to improve my land for foraging and that in itself is a project.
     
  4. Celie

    Celie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I too raise Holland whites, the largest of the white heritage turkeys, all heritage fly a lot during their first year, later, mostly just when they have to or feel like roosting in the trees and hens not as much as toms. I hear that midget whites are very large breasted, but they are very small, about 12 #'s, I think. I think I will try some this year. The beltsville are in between, but never went over as a breed and the size puts them with APA as midget Whites and beltsville category. People have been interbreeding these for years. Bourbon Reds, slates , Black Spanish and Narragansett are in between the largest and smallest and are a lot more colorful. Why don't you join us on the "Turkeys for 2013" and look at pictures and read what the people who raise them have to say. You would learn about turkeys and how they are raised and the problems also, there?[​IMG]
     
  5. jdcharman

    jdcharman New Egg

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    Jan 31, 2013
    I am considering Royal Palm Turkeys with basically the same criteria. I have a 6 ft fence, and want a decent meat bird that can forage. Any opinions on how hard it would be to breed them if I introduced a Tom and three hens ? I'd like to have about 12-18 for Fall.
     
  6. r4eboxer

    r4eboxer Crooked Creek Poultry

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    I have a few different breeds, all heritage, and all are very good foragers. They didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the supplemental feed I left out while on pasture. I have them penned right now because I was tired of spraying off my sidewalks. They can jump very high and fly but mine are 10 months old. I've been told they will not fly as much when they get bigger. I hope not [​IMG]

    I have Royal Palms, Narragansett, Blue Slate and Bourbon Reds, I had black Spanish but lost all of them to one problem or another. The Royal Palms are smaller but if you don't want a huge turkey for the oven they are perfect. My Narragansett hens are bigger than my Toms of the other breeds. Of course when the toms are showing it doesn't look that way. If you want a very friendly turkey go with the Narragansett. I have one hen who is like a child. She is so inquisitive and is always being nosy. Funny girl she is, she will drink right out of the hose just like a kid on a hot day.

    It's my first year breeding but I can tell you that Royal Palms are going to have no trouble doing the job. This past fall they were already mounting the hens and they were just hatched in April.

    If you coop them they are going to eat a good bit. I have mine with chickens (I know all about blackhead). Before putting 7 turkeys in the coop my hens (27 of them) were eating about 50 lbs every 3-4 days. Now I use 50 lbs every 2-3 days. I plan on putting them back on pasture after the breeding season so my feed will go to almost nothing for them. If you have somewhere for them to forage the feed costs are going to be very small on a yearly average.

    Oh I almost forgot, I started with 18 poults and ended up with 7. Of all the breeds I lost a couple of each, EXCEPT the Royal Palm, I did not lose one poult. Not sure if the Palms are more hardy as poults but in my case they definitely were.
     
  7. robj

    robj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How do you like your Blue Slates? I'm thinkg about picking a few up, they will be my first Turkeys
     
  8. r4eboxer

    r4eboxer Crooked Creek Poultry

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    The blue slate is a pretty bird, as far as weight goes my Tom isn't much bigger than my Royal Palm. For friendliness he is average. He is the most aggressive Tom I have , he rules the roost.
     
  9. robj

    robj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks. I've got some eggs headin my way hopefully we can get all hatched out and have some cool birds. We have chickens turkeys are new any suggestions on housing these guys. Big thing I guess is how much coop room do they need?
     
  10. r4eboxer

    r4eboxer Crooked Creek Poultry

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    That is sort of a hard question, Turkeys are not really coop birds. Are you planning a run? Are you planning on covering your run? I ask because turkeys can jump VERY high. They also can fly very well as juveniles. They don't like to be in a coop they would rather roost on top of it out in any element. Poults are fragile but adult turkeys are extremely hardy. I was worried about my turkeys in early winter because they just stayed out of the coop in freezing rain and were drenched. They would not go in the coop and were just fine outside on the roof. I'd put more room into the run if you can. Also if you want them contained at least put a net over the entire coop and run or you are wasting your time fencing the run.
     

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