Pet turkey questions

R2elk

*
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Feb 24, 2013
38,377
194,201
1,671
Natrona County, Wyoming
My Coop
My Coop
Oh I'm sorry I see.
Ya it's the #1 killer of turkeys when they are with infected chickens. From what I know about the disease it is fatal to turkeys they can't recover.
Do some research and learn the facts. Histomoniasis can be fatal to turkeys but if caught in time and treated properly they can recover. It still is not a good idea to keep turkeys with chickens wherever blackhead is present. Where blackhead isn't present it still isn't a good idea to keep turkeys with chickens because of the very nature of turkeys.
 
Last edited:

casportpony

🦚🦆🦃🐔
BYC Staff
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 24, 2012
121,733
350,057
2,202
The Golden State
Is this a sustainable set up for two turkeys?
I suggest following @R2elk's advice.
Any other turkey keeping tips?
My biggest concern with keeping turkeys with chickens is blackhead (histomoniais). I suggest keeping drugs and supplies on hand in case you need to treat them
  • metronidazole 250 mg tablets (Flagyl) - this is to treat the histomoniasis
  • enrofloxacin injectable (Baytril) - treats the secondary e. coli
  • fenbendazole (Safeguard) - treats the cecal worms
  • food scale to weigh them on
  • feeding tubes ( size 14 & 18 are good)
  • 60 ml catheter tip syringe
  • 1 ml syringe

I also worry about coccidiosis, but that's easier to threat
  • amprolium (Cori) or preferably toltrazuril (Baycox)
Is it true that chicken poop can be toxic to turkeys?
Not toxic perse. Read these:
Ya it's the #1 killer of turkeys when they are with infected chickens.
Not sure about it being the number one killer, but it is pretty serious.

From what I know about the disease it is fatal to turkeys they can't recover.
If caught soon enough, treated with the drugs shown above, and proper supportive care is given, they do recover.
 

Devils Flower

Songster
Mar 20, 2021
616
1,664
246
Area 51
I suggest following @R2elk's advice.

My biggest concern with keeping turkeys with chickens is blackhead (histomoniais). I suggest keeping drugs and supplies on hand in case you need to treat them
  • metronidazole 250 mg tablets (Flagyl) - this is to treat the histomoniasis
  • enrofloxacin injectable (Baytril) - treats the secondary e. coli
  • fenbendazole (Safeguard) - treats the cecal worms
  • food scale to weigh them on
  • feeding tubes ( size 14 & 18 are good)
  • 60 ml catheter tip syringe
  • 1 ml syringe

I also worry about coccidiosis, but that's easier to threat
  • amprolium (Cori) or preferably toltrazuril (Baycox)

Not toxic perse. Read these:

Not sure about it being the number one killer, but it is pretty serious.


If caught soon enough, treated with the drugs shown above, and proper supportive care is given, they do recover.
Thank you for the nice response to my responses earlier today. Now that's the right way to give someone information.
 
May 21, 2021
8
2
3
I’m a long time chicken owner but never had a pet turkey so I’m hoping for some advice.

Currently I have 6 Bantams in a 12x12 7 ft tall covered run with an attached 4x8 coop(that they only lay eggs in, they prefer to sleep in the rafters in their run).

I’m getting 4 straight run Narraganset turkey poults in a few weeks. My plan is to add them to the flock when they are big enough and fully feathered of course and they can live with the chickens until they are big enough to free range. I plan on adding a low perch for them to perch permanently in the covered run but free range during the day(I cover the run sides in the winter, still keeping it ventilated). I also only plan on keeping two turkeys and rehoming the other two.

so as adults they would free range all day and go in the run at night. It’s very secure with a built shingled roof and underground wire


so my questions are;

Is this a sustainable set up for two turkeys?

I definitely want one male, should his buddy be a female or are two males a better idea? These will be strictly pets.

What do turkey poults eat? Game bird feed? What do they eat as adults?

do they dig up your gardens like chickens?

Any other turkey keeping tips?
Turkeys die very easy when are chicks. Suggest you get five. Then will maybe have three left if lucky. Need 30 percent protein. Look for game bird feed 20 lbs for 20 to 30 dollars. Order a few chicks same age. Turkeys are slow. They need chicks to help them learn how to eat. Get two at least. First month keep inside with heat lamp. Must be warmer than chickens. If huddled under light too cold. IF run to corners to hot. Make it where can pick to go under light or run to cool area.

Tractor supply has a 30 box with light and red bulb for heat, water dish, and feeder. Is worth it as heat light and bulb 16 dollars. Everything is chick size. I like to use a large cardboard box as can put down shaving or paper and retains warmth. When done throw away and get new box or when need new box due to smell.

In the water tray add white rocks of they will drown. They like to peck the rocks and learn to drink. The chicken chicks will help the baby turkeys with heat and with life. Also the baby chicks seem to have more feathers in the beginning, so when they huddle the baby chicks help the turkey chicks to be warm. Make sure chicken chicks not too big or old.

Have added a few tree branches and big flat pieces of brick for interest and seems to be working out. White paper towel with some crumble and a few dark pieces of some type of food to get them pecking.

Water, starvation, heat, some type of disease seems to be the killers.

Make sure water not too hot with all the heat. If things get too dirty a problem also. Get a new box.
 
Feb 3, 2021
1,613
4,877
316
Arizona
Turkeys die very easy when are chicks. Suggest you get five. Then will maybe have three left if lucky. Order a few chicks same age. They need chicks to help them learn how to eat. Get two at least.

I like to use a large cardboard box as can put down shaving or paper and retains warmth.
I am going to kindly disagree with you. :) I have raised turkeys and I have never had any just die. I have only ever lost one and that was because a cat snuck in the garage that they were in. They don't need chicks to learn how to eat and drink. Yes they are a bit slow to learn but they will learn. The more poults you get the better of they are. I don't use pine shavings as it can be very had for them to distinguish what is food and what is not. They can also accidently ingest it and it may cause problems. That is just my suggestions. I don't mean to offend you I am just trying to inform you. :) If I have any info incorrect you may correct me. :):)
 

Devils Flower

Songster
Mar 20, 2021
616
1,664
246
Area 51
I
If you have to have a tom and only want 2 turkeys, I would think it would be better to go with another tom ONLY if they are not raised with any other baby poultry. If there are no females they might not be as willing to tear each other up, but I'm sure they'll still fight during mating season. I would personally suggest 2 hens, 3 ideally. Make sure there is no blackhead in your area. Housing them with bantams can be a risk, especially if there isnt enough area for them to all separate into their own corners.

Poults need 28-30% gamebird starter for at least around the first 6wks of life. if I remember correctly

They love digging, especially to make dust bathes, like chickens.

As a pet turkey owner, if you are going to get toms, I would avoid imprinting. I love my tom dearly, but he is an absolute pest who is only slightly respectful enough to back off when I give him a "Hey!". His brother did not care and would constantly bump and push on me and start fights with his brother. Both of them started fighting my mom.

I've been lucky with imprinted hens, only 2 of them have ever submitted to me (one lays down if I grab her and pull her to me, the other one will just stand stiffly by me and push on me like shes waiting for me to court her) and the other 2, 1 hangs out around me but is not interested in submitting, and the other one is hateful towards me and wants to fight me for my flock rank, but is too cowardly to actually start anything. I would still be careful with imprinting hens too, I may have just gotten lucky with the 4 hens I imprinted.
I find what you said very interesting about the Tom's. I have 2 and 4 hens they are about 2.5 months. I believe they all have imprinted on me. No matter where I go they are there or what I am doing. They will even follow me when I am driving the tractor.
 

Coops Dad

Songster
May 10, 2020
766
2,333
236
too close to Waco, TX
I got 10 poults at a local feed store and they did very well- none died but I had to cull one at a month old because it had a damaged tendon and couldn't use its leg.

The remaining 9 are a little over 2 months old and free range in the back pasture with the main chicken flock. One of the roosters was initially aggressive towards the poults but now ignores them. The poults did not know what to do when the rooster chest bumped them, and they would do the "distress" trill. That confused the rooster and eventually he understood that these were not chickens, and not challenging him for his part of the flock.

The poults love the clover, beans, vetch and alfalfa plots I planted, and they also eat plenty of grass, bugs and cicadas. They hang out under the trees and snag the cicadas as they crawl up the trunks to molt.

The turkeys have become my favorite bird so far. We've had chickens and ducks and, now, turkeys.
 

kmisscluck

Chirping
Sep 20, 2016
34
15
74
Broomfield, CO
There are a lot of great resources on having turkeys as a pet, as opposed to breeding or raising for food. The suggestions for high protein diets are for meat birds and not meant for longevity of life, but for building muscle fast. This is info from great turkey person on this site. Use an 18-20% all flock feed for longevity. Get a small breed, heritage like a royal palm. Do not great a broad breasted, it is sad, they can’t move around well, don’t live as long. I have a 12 ft by 14 ft stall with attached 10 ft by 10 ft run , it works great for a pet. Since yours will only sleep in run it is fine. They will perch, make perches with two by fours for them high up. They like them to be at least 3-4 ft high. Things you will struggle with- they do not come in at night like chickens. So free ranging is great for them but it is a pain to round them up at night to bring them in. I ended up with mine because his hens got eaten because the owner couldn’t get them in at night and a fox ate them. They were in fenced enclosure with trees. They aren’t fast. They will stay out in pouring rain, sleet and snow. previous owner used to spend all kinds of time trying to get them in and decided turkeys weren’t for her. I am already struggling with decision to take him because I don’t want aggression towards my hens, but he needs flock mates. I’m worried adding turkey hens who don’t know chickens or him will disrupt my chickens. Right now he seems happy and calm, but will have to watch for mating attempts and aggression. I’ve read horror stories. I made sure to add a lot of chicken hiding places.
 

Attachments

  • 06EFBBF2-C1FB-4FF7-ADB6-F76CFF63F354.jpeg
    06EFBBF2-C1FB-4FF7-ADB6-F76CFF63F354.jpeg
    194.3 KB · Views: 4
  • A4B53EA9-D1EB-42B0-A273-6CFE29201FB0.jpeg
    A4B53EA9-D1EB-42B0-A273-6CFE29201FB0.jpeg
    203.9 KB · Views: 4
  • 1236795D-515F-4DAB-AD67-0EF8D37331EB.jpeg
    1236795D-515F-4DAB-AD67-0EF8D37331EB.jpeg
    192.1 KB · Views: 4

kmisscluck

Chirping
Sep 20, 2016
34
15
74
Broomfield, CO
12x12? To sleep in?!?! :th
just curious - you are saying 12 foot by 12 foot is too small for two turkeys to sleep in? This is quite a bit larger than many turkey breeders I know have. If they are free ranged during the day how much space do suggest for per turkey? I am new to turkeys asking for education. I have a12 foot by 14 ish foot horse stall and mine perch up high on 4 ft two by four inside and seem happy, then go out in the daytime
 

kmisscluck

Chirping
Sep 20, 2016
34
15
74
Broomfield, CO
Here is good info from the sanctuary site I read up on.

Roosting Area​

Turkeys require elevated roosting spots to spend the overnight hours, ideally with a sheltering roof to protect them from the elements. It is possible to build a single roost pen with space for several birds (a five-by-eight-foot roost will house about 20 turkeys) or you can build a set of roosts. Either way, mounting the roost or roost pen on skids or wheels will allow it to be easily moved. By moving the roosts around the range area, you can prevent manure from building up in one spot.

DIET
Animal caregivers know that providing residents with an appropriate diet is a fundamental component of responsible care. Unfortunately, for some species, it can be difficult to find information regarding the nutrients they need outside of the context of commodification. Such is the case with Turkeys
Unless explicitly mentioned, we are referring to domestic turkey breeds, not wild turkeys, who may have unique needs not covered by this resource.
Almost all of the available information is focused on “productivity” and not what turkeys need to live long, healthy lives. This is especially true of large breed turkeys who have been bred to grow so large they can no longer mate naturally. Just as with large breed chickens, the available information on turkey diets focuses on rapid growth and profit margins. Because of the lack of scientifically-proven recommendations for sanctuary turkey residents, it can be difficult to know exactly what and how much to feed individual turkeys. In this resource, we will look at a combination of anecdotal information from the sanctuary community and industry recommendations for turkeys forced into breeding, since efforts are made to prevent obesity in those individuals.

Let’s Talk Protein​

Industry-based information suggests that turkeys require more protein than chickens, and most commercial foods formulated for turkeys have a much higher percentage of protein than foods intended for chickens. However, lower protein diets are usually recommended for sanctuary avian residents, where the goal is health and longevity rather than exploitation and rapid growth. When discussing the nutritional needs of sanctuary turkeys with avian nutritionists or other experts, they often reference “breeder” recommendations, which are different from the recommendations for turkeys who are being raised for their flesh. While the recommendations for turkeys raised for breeding purposes are not a perfect match with what sanctuary residents need, when it comes to protein, it can be a good point of reference.

While many commercial foods labeled specifically for turkeys have a protein content of 20% or higher, according to Nutrient Requirements Of Poultry, after turkeys reach 16 weeks of age, those who will be used for breeding should be maintained on a different diet than those being raised for their flesh, so as to reduce the risk of obesity. They recommend a 12% protein diet for these individuals during the time before females start laying eggs and a 14% protein diet once they begin to lay.

Consider The Calcium Content​

In addition to looking at the protein content, it’s important to also pay attention to the amount of calcium in various foods. A diet designed for use in birds who are actively laying is going to have a higher calcium content to accommodate the toll of egg production. Male turkeys and females who are not currently laying do not need this additional calcium. Though we know of sanctuaries who have fed a “layer” food to non-laying turkeys with no obvious complications, too much calcium can put individuals at risk of certain health challenges such as gout. With so many different commercial foods available, in addition to the prospect of ordering food online, sanctuaries likely have many more options to consider than they would have had a decade or two ago, when their only option may have been a “layer” food.

Types Of Food For Turkeys​

Complete diet commercial foods typically come in pellet, crumble, or mash form, and are preferable to mixed grains because they prevent individuals from picking and choosing (and possibly missing out on essential nutrients as a result). Because of how quickly large breed turkeys typically eat, feeding a pelleted food, rather than a mash or crumble with small particles that could be inhaled, may be best. Soaking crumble or mash food in hot water to form an oatmeal-like consistency can prevent this issue (pellets can also be soaked in this way). Individuals who have been debeaked may do best with soaked foods, which are often easier for them to eat.

If we consider the information above regarding turkeys forced into breeding and extrapolate upon what we have learned about large breed chickens, it makes sense that, in a sanctuary setting where the goal is health and longevity, healthy adult turkey residents will do best on a lower protein food. This means that foods labeled for turkeys, which often have a protein content of at least 20%, will probably not be your best bet. There are a few commercial foods available that are intended for turkeys who are being used for breeding, but the vast majority of those we have come across still have protein contents that are higher than the 12-14% protein recommended above. Even those with a lower protein content might not be the best fit for all sanctuary turkey residents, because the calcium content is often higher than what non-laying individuals need. So where does that leave us? We don’t have one set recommendation to offer, but will instead look at a few different options that sanctuaries have had success with. You can then decide which makes the most sense to try with your residents.

Feeding A Maintenance Food​

Maintenance diets are intended for individuals who are considered “non-producing” and can be a good option for sanctuary turkey residents, especially males or females who are not currently laying eggs. These diets have lower amounts of calcium than diets designed for individuals who are actively laying, and while different brands and formulations have different protein contents, they typically have less protein than diets formulated specifically for turkeys. In different regions there will be different brands available, but two popular choices are:

Purina Game Bird Maintenance Chow​

Foods labeled for “game birds” often work well for turkeys and are frequently recommended for them, but it’s important to note that there are a variety of game bird foods available- not all are maintenance diets. Purina Game Bird Maintenance Chow has a protein content of 12.5% and between 0.9% and 1.1% calcium (be aware that there are a variety of Purina Game Bird Chows with almost identical packaging, so always be sure to check the label).

Roudybush Maintenance Diets​

Roudybush is a high quality brand of bird food, formulated primarily for companion birds such as parrots. Compared to many other brands, Roudybush is more expensive, so it may not be an option for everyone. They offer a variety of formulas, including Roudybush Maintenance and Roudybush Low-Fat Maintenance. The latter has been a food of choice for many compassionate chicken caregivers, and may be a good option for turkeys as well. However, we spoke to one turkey caregiver who found that the large breed turkeys in their care did best with a combination of the two formulas after seeing a change in their behavior and feather condition when solely on the Low-Fat formula (they found that feeding two parts Maintenance to one part Low-Fat Maintenance was a good mix for their companions). We reached out to the company and were told that the Maintenance diet has 11% protein and 0.42% calcium, whereas the Low-Fat Maintenance diet has 12% protein and 0.44% calcium.

These are certainly not the only options. It’s a good idea to talk to your local feed store to see what they have available, or what they can order for you. If you are having trouble finding a suitable food in your area, don’t forget to check out online suppliers. A few other foods that might be good options are Kalmbach 16% Flock Maintainer, which has a higher protein content than the maintenance foods listed above (at 16% protein, which is comparable to a “layer” food), but has a lower calcium content than a “layer” food, with 0.75%-1.25% calcium. Bluebonnet Premium Poultry Maintenance might be another option with 14% protein and 0.65-1.15% calcium.

Feeding Turkey Residents A “Layer” Food​

In recent years, it seems more sanctuaries are moving away from regularly feeding a chicken “layer” diet to their turkey residents (especially male turkey residents), but for many years it seemed fairly common to hear that a sanctuary used a “layer” food for both their chicken and turkey residents. However, as mentioned above, the additional calcium could cause health issues in individuals who are not actively laying, so you may want to reserve this option for your female turkey residents only. Some sanctuaries feed a combination of a “layer” food mixed with a maintenance diet, and some feed a “layer” diet only to female turkey residents during the egg-laying season. If you go this route, be sure to transition them slowly from one food to another, watching closely for any adverse effects.

Feeding Non-Large Breed Turkeys​

In general, Non-large breed

A domestic animal breed that has not been specifically engineered to grow as quickly as possible for the purpose of human consumption. In resources at The Open Sanctuary Project, "Heritage" breeds of turkeys, for instance, are "non-large breed", even if they are physically quite big.
" style="border-bottom-width: 1px !important; border-bottom-style: dotted !important; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0) !important; color: rgb(0, 0, 0) !important;">non-large breed turkeys (often called “Heritage breed”) can be fed free-choice throughout the day. This means you can offer unlimited food, and individuals can eat as they wish. Unlike large breed turkeys, non-large breed individuals will self-regulate and will not gorge themselves on food. In addition to their primary food, scratch can be served as a treat or motivator for non-large breed turkeys, but should comprise no more than 10% of their diet as it is not nutritionally complete. A scratch grain-only diet may result in nutritional deficiencies and is not recommended. Consider also offering supplemental fresh produce such as daily greens and the occasional treat.

Insoluble Grit For Turkeys​

Turkeys do not have teeth to chew and break down their food; instead, food is broken down in the gizzard (also called the ventriculus or muscular stomach), and insoluble grit assists in this process. Turkeys naturally eat small pebbles and stones which then stay in the gizzard for some time and help break down food. However, depending on their housing arrangement, you may need to offer insoluble grit, which can be purchased at most feed stores (and is not to be confused with soluble grit). Turkeys who are solely fed a complete diet food (vs. a mix of whole grains) technically do not need grit as this is able to be broken down without it. However, if you are feeding fresh produce or your residents are eating grass and other vegetation in their outdoor space, these types of food do require pebbles or grit in order to be broken down in the gizzard.



Insoluble Grit

Small stones or sand swallowed by birds to help them digest food.
Insoluble grit comes in different sizes. Using an insoluble grit that is too small could result in it passing through without spending time in the gizzard, which defeats the purpose. Smaller sized grit is also more likely to be over consumed by some individuals.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom