Problem with RB turkeys

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by JuliaSh, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. JuliaSh

    JuliaSh Out Of The Brooder

    Hello everybody,
    I have 3 Red Bourbon turkeys 1 tom and 2 hens. Couple days ago I saw tom pecking at one of hen's beaks then I saw her bleeding. Well I run home to grab Blue Kote and when we managed to catch her I noticed that her snood is missing and bleeding plus her upper part of beak is missing too. Well I freaked out and sprayed with blue kote. Next day everything was ok but today I saw that tom is peaking at both hens' beaks/snoods again plus I have 1 wild turkey tom in there too he is really nice and calm and this trouble tom tries to peak at his snood too. What to do? please help, will that hen with half beak will be ok?
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 8, 2013
    Photo would be needed to see what's happened clearly, but as long as she can drink and peck up food (and not die from infection or further bullying) then she should live. Depending on how much was removed, she may not grow it back and may need an assisted diet. I had a turkey hen almost amputate her upper beak once and she lived. I used pine tar, but whatever stops infection should be good.

    Personally, I would cull that tom. He could kill your other birds.

    Debeaking is something practiced by more and more birds, from wild ones to domestic ones, and there's yet to be a satisfactory explanation as to why, but I suspect it may be like those rabbits and cats that remove certain extremities from their offspring, a reaction to cancerous genes or activity in those areas in some cases and a mental defect in the attacker in other cases. They can see and smell signs of disease we cannot. But they're just as prone to mental illness as we are, too.

    My chooks, cats, dogs, etc have always spotted cancerous areas in other animals and humans and sometimes even tried to remove them, which they don't do in the manner your tom's doing since they are doing it out of concern and not desire to harm, but on the other end of the spectrum you have deranged and wanton killers who mutilate without cause, and it's very hard to see the difference between the two without proof of the victim's health. When an animal is trying to remove a melanoma or the likes from another animal, it's careful, calm, and they try to cause as little pain as possible, and stop when the other animal shows it's hurting. No bloodbaths, lol.

    One way to tell is his emotional state while he's pecking them. Is he angry, i.e. displaying aggressively or making angry noises while he attacks?

    Or is he obsessed, as in anxious, or almost fanatical about it, like he can't think of anything else?

    Is he sexually aroused, i.e. is it a confusion or frustrated and warped expression of mating instinct/behavior?

    Or is he simply trying to eat them?

    It could well be neurosis, or even cannibalism, because it's obviously not a healthy behavior, but going from my experience with turkeys I would think he's just a bad one and needs removing.

    Some of my toms, all of the same lineage (from a previous breeder who didn't know birds should not excessively inbreed) would just go nuts and stop mating normally after their first birthday, and instead anytime a female crouched in invitation they would go berserk and try to remove pieces of her face and head.

    I've seen enough baby turkey fights to know that grabbing one another in the mouth, by the beak, by the face etc is their favored attack method, and they try to pin one another by the head and they're merciless even as babies, but of course if he's ripping pieces off he's taken it way too far.

    It's not likely he'll grow out of it, and it's very likely he'll pass it on to any offspring he has. Experience has taught me to never breed angry or vicious animals unless you're prepared to deal with more of the same, and worse. No matter how large and plump he may be, it's all useless when he's causing such harm and stress to your other animals.

    If in doubt I recommend you conduct a little breeding experiment and try to breed this out of his descendents. I've tried before, with various species, and it's possible but takes a long time, and they're not worth the cost of rearing. He's clearly not right in the head. That said, this can result from inbreeding or just breeding on vicious lines, or some area lacking in their nutrition, which triggers a depopulation instinct. In domesticity, as in the wild, when nutrition is complete and abundant, even antisocial animals don't mind congregating in huge numbers.

    Anyway, best wishes with him and the others.

    EDIT: when I say 'cull' you can of course interpret this merely as removal of the animal, not killing him yourself. You could sell him on or give him away if you're not ok with culling him yourself but please, if you do, be honest to his new owners about why you're getting rid of him. Too many people aren't forthcoming with that sort of vital information.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014
  3. JuliaSh

    JuliaSh Out Of The Brooder

    chooks4life, Thank you for the info. My Tom doesn't look aggressive he just walks around and when he see someone walking by he just comes over and pecks at the snood like if he is curious or something.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by