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Pet turkeys

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by turkeylady3, Sep 11, 2014.

  1. turkeylady3

    turkeylady3 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have three broad breasted bronze turkey pets. One male and two females that are about three years old. I have them separated because the male is when he gets on top of the females he hurts him. I've noticed recently that the male turkey is very aggressive towards me and he hasn't been before. Does anyone know if this aggression will go away
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    It's so unlikely that the aggression will go away that I really don't recommend you gamble your safety on it. I'd replace him with a better male. Sounds like he's no use anyway since you have to keep him separate from them.

    Best wishes and [​IMG]
     
  3. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    BOCOMO

    You brooded and raised these three, yourself? When you say the male is being aggressive, what behaviors led to your judgment?
    Do you have small children?

    If you wish to breed the females, you'll almost certainly require another variety (heritage) tom..BB tom might need a new home, regardless.
     
  4. turkeylady3

    turkeylady3 Out Of The Brooder

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    I raised them from about a month old. The BBB turkeys usually aren't allowed to mate because the male is so heavy he will injure or kill the females. When they were smaller I allowed it but then the females lost most of their back feathers so separated them. If ppl want to breed them it's usually done with artificial insemination because of the males weight. I don't want to breed they are just my pets. Everything was going good till the last month the male would usually go into the corner of his pen when I would go into get his feed bucket. Now he attacks me when I go into the pen. I had to use a broom to keep them away from me last time. Killing him is not an option. No there's no small children that he can get out. I was hoping he was just in a bad mood lately and hoping the aggression would go away. He's got big spurs so it really concerns me.
     
  5. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Becoming very aggressive over time is pretty common with them. Sounds like he was unusually rough with the hens too, also not uncommon a development over time.

    His attitude is incredibly unlikely to improve especially with the existence he has to live, isolated and perpetually frustrated in his reproductive instincts. Male turkeys only live for reproduction, it's literally their only focus in life. There's low quality of life for him in being kept isolated, even if he can see them; it's a pointless life. Depression in caged animals shortens the lifespan pretty drastically as they lose the will to live.

    If you get him another tom turkey it may help as it will give him company and a focus away from you as the main competitor. They may fight but it's highly unlikely they'll kill one another or give one another any serious injuries, they're more talk and display than fight, generally. After a bit they'd settle down to spending pretty much all day every day displaying and gobbling together, quite possibly forget all about the hens unless they come to the cage walls. If he hates you and wants to do you harm, he's not much of a pet, lol! He's a frustrated and aggressive livestock animal. Another male may be just what he needs.

    Baby turkeys sometimes role play in taking turns pretending to be the male and then pretending to be the female, complete with displays, invitations to mate, attempts at gobbling, and mating, etc; there's a somewhat slim chance he could have a mate in another male turkey. Many roosters, rams, cattle, cats, (etc, list goes on and on) will form such same-sex relationships. Your hens may do the equivalent. I've had hens (both turkey and chicken hens) who would take male roles, sometimes complete with mating. One of my chicken hens preferred to be on top, the mechanics are the same and roosters will also complain loudly, but still squat and move their tail feathers out of the way when mounted and cooperate like hens do. It's pretty automatic it seems.

    Being isolated with only a human to interact with seems to increase human-aggression in basically all social animals kept this way, without their natural family unit or group. Being able to see others but having mesh walls between them did nothing to improve this situation. The most aggressive turkeys and chickens I know all came from isolated lifestyles, yet in full view of others of their kind, where their only outlet for their frustration was to attack the humans who confined them (and who kind of deserved it for breeding on such mentalities, you can't go breeding on human-aggressive animals and want sympathy if they attack you, lol... Amazes me how many people have to use brooms etc to go out among their livestock then want to complain about being attacked, yet don't want to do anything about it... This isn't directed at you, though, just a general observation).

    Best wishes with him.
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Hmm, the last line there with the broom leaves room for misunderstanding... I was actually referring specifically to a few breeders I know who cannot enter their own yards, the runs, etc, without a weapon. It was not a reference to you having to use the broom to keep him away from you, even though you mentioned this in your other post.

    If you DID breed him, that'd be something that would be a bit beyond my understanding, but I totally understand that you've raised this animal as a pet and don't want to cull him.

    However I would suggest (with all due respect and genuine sympathy) that you perhaps reconsider the idea of him being a pet. He's livestock, he comes from a long line of livestock and lacks the domestic qualities of pet-bred animals, such as enjoyment of your company. Being a livestock animal doesn't mean he couldn't be a pet, but he clearly lacks the qualities of a pet in his character.

    He doesn't consider you with any affection; I think an animal being a pet is a two-way street, you are supposed to be gaining pleasure from their company and care, and they too are supposed to be gaining pleasure from your company and care, otherwise the animal has made its choice and you're attempting to make a pet out of an animal that does not want to be your pet. This is setting up a frustrating and saddening situation for both of you which generally doesn't tend to end well. He's made his decision, he doesn't want anything to do with you; if you have a pet who cannot abide you, you rehome it for both your sakes; otherwise it's livestock and its feelings on the subject are unimportant.

    I've had broad-breasted breeds before and the males were able to mate at their full sizes; I considered getting saddles if necessary but it never was; but then again, they weren't aggressive to the hens or me; I always culled the males who were. There's very little you can do for those which turn and become dangerous; of a necessity they need to be kept separate and from there they just get worse and worse. In the end killing them becomes a kindness.

    I can't see how to resolve your situation offhand, but will be educational to see how you go with it.

    Anyway, best wishes.
     
  7. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    Mentioned the breeding owing to a couple of local BB hens throwing some interesting poults, when bred with Bourbon tom, at our neighbor's, a few years back.

    Get an old folding umbrella, when you enter the pen AND he approaches you, open it up in his face and back him into (cage/shed/etc?) until you are finished with chores. 4 ft./1.22m long, bamboo garden stakes are good for slowly herding recalcitrant turks (one in either hand/arms outstretched. Garden hose with a forceful settling on spray head (wait until he's trilling/stomping next to you and let him have it, until he stops retreating (~20yds).

    Try wearing same outfit/shoes, etc. you had on the day before he got pushy./hang a metal faced mirror outside fencing - give him something to focus on. Be consistent when responding to aggression (always consequence).

    However, I'm guessing this is seasonal. (somewhere in the middle latitudes, yes?). Fall is Spring in `reverse'. Lots of false mating/fighting in Cardinals/Hummingbirds (just about on their way to Panama). Hormone levels in turkeys aren't immune. And some rude behaviors are indulged in (but more like a mere echo of late May).

    Females and hormones & light: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/agcomm/magazine/spring05/night.htm

    Interesting aside: re: male poultry/light) to note that a few days ago, quite a few members wrote in about an outbreak of suddenly crowing cockerels & roos well past the Midnight Hour.- something about the moon shining into coops and sheds? (I'm a proximal cause kinda fella).

    Our BB's went down to Spraddle Leg but the one that survived the longest (4.5 months) was the easiest going and friendly. Our Slates and Royals are well socialized, but nowhere near as quiescent. I sometimes wonder if the overall difference is also the result of the intense domestication of the BB's; one sure sign of domestication of any species is a concomitant decrease in brain volume - in some lines of BB's, up to 30%.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2014
  8. turkeylady3

    turkeylady3 Out Of The Brooder

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    I really appreciate the replies that I got. Just a little background to help understand my question. I was a dog and cat lover in my early years until I developed a serious allergy to them in my 20s. Then from then on I did not have pets there really was no other pets I was interested in having. The main reasons is it's hard when they died because they usually have become a family member. But one day I was sitting outside and wild turkey kept coming into the yard every day. Very friendly would eat out of my hand and I got as close to her as I could for a wild animal. And one day a coyote got a hold of her. My one and only close neighbor felt sorry for me asked if I wanted a pet turkey. And of course feeling the loss I said yes. My three turkeys lived in a 12 x 12 inside in pen that has a roof and has a small coop up off the ground and it has a roosting bar big enough for all three of them to roost at night. Plus roosting bars inside the pen. Well the Tom got so big that it started hurting the two females when he mated with them . We build another 10 x 10 just for him and they share the fence between them. Actually is sort of a joke everybody comes over to see it says it looks like a Uniplex with the condo attached. I don't understand A lot of the words that the people that replied to my comment use. I'm Not a farmer and have never had an experience with turkeys before. We live just out of town on a 1 acre plot this seems very rural. Not big enough to let them run wild. I mention there's coyotes that live close by. Didn't take me very long to realize when I was raising them that they live on instinct alone. There is no attachment on their part. The only one on one interaction on their part was when they were young I'd put my arm out and hold onto the fence and all three of them would roost on my arm. But a lot of attachment on my part. They're a little over two years old now. I use the broom to keep him at bay when I was putting food in his food container. I said in my other comment I've never seen him like that usually he'll go to the opposite end of the pen when I come in. But it was a relentless attack on his part. I will Try a couple of the suggestions and see if they work. I don't think I'm going to be getting any more turkeys as the one suggested I do.
     
  9. turkeylady3

    turkeylady3 Out Of The Brooder

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    And just a note if I haven't said enough. It's funny that u mention role reversal for the females. For most of this time my gray one would pick on my black female. Until recent, tables have turned the black one chases and picks on the gray one. The black one will make that sound like the male makes when courting and stretches her neck up while making this noise. Very confusing. Also we built a nesting box in the coop the 2 females have been laying an egg just about every day for a year now. Now the black aggressive female now spends all day in the nesting box whether I've taken the eggs out or not. And I may add I can't just reach in the box to get the egg both females r very very aggressive when in the nesting box.
     
  10. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Sounds familiar. Turkeys can make great pets, but most don't. I've had both sorts. So I do understand the pet angle as well as the livestock one.

    As you have noticed the females can be terrible companions for one another, I've even had one hen kill another hen. She hated to be without a female companion but also hated every female companion she ever had, even her own daughters. She basically hated the world, lol, extreme anxiety and aggression which got worse and worse the older she got even though she started out normal. She ended up attacking me too, and killing her own babies, went from being a great mother to a waste of resources. Fox got her before I could finish her detrimental legacy. Psycho, but just following a very common trend I've seen in many turkeys, for deleterious behavior to be adopted and accelerate with age with no apparent reason (other than that it was a trait observed in their recent progenitors, which is ample 'reason' and advance warning once you know how strong those heritable social traits actually are). Quite often the fault is not the owner nor their actions or husbandry methods, something it's taken me a while to fully accept, as initially I'd buy from vicious stock thinking I could alter this within the next generations... Waste of time and a foolish risk to boot... It's the fault of the breeder/s of the previous 7 or so generations, and there's almost nothing you can do to stop them becoming as they were bred to be, not within a few short generations anyway as a general rule of thumb.

    Some males I had, from two family lines, became violent to the females after their first year of age, just went without warning from being normal and harmless to attacking; likewise they became violent to babies, never had problems before, but with age they turned vicious.

    They're often not the easiest livestock... They're easy, and no trouble, till they're suddenly not. Never a steady keel with them.

    The behavior you're describing sounds like threat vocalizations, and the male shouldn't be making that noise at the females; it's not normal courting behavior at all. Chances are that's why he's removing feathers etc, he's rough because he's got mixed/ confused mating/ fighting instincts, it's not uncommon at all. Very common in fact. If he's never met another male there's a chance he has no idea of gender roles and social boundaries, in the absence of examples and experience they can be very socially confused and combine everything into one basket so to speak.

    Sounds to me like you may be better off looking into some new pets, things are fairly likely to continue to get worse going by my experience with turkeys. Even a female turkey attacking you is nothing to scoff at, she's very capable of harming you. My hens which began to show aggression on the nest eventually escalated to launching attacks at my face from the side or behind. Culling them was no longer an option, it was a necessity.

    If you can keep birds without being allergic to them, there are many birds which will give you greater enjoyment than these.

    Best wishes.
     

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