Sick Tom Turkey

FarRider

Hatching
5 Years
Sep 30, 2014
2
0
7
Looking for answers. This is my first attempt at raising turkeys for food. As a recent cancer survivor, I have become very particular about each organically and as pure as possible. I purchased 12 white broadbreasted turkeys June 1. I demanded that they not be vaccinated as I plan on harvesting them for meat. I lost 5 for various reasons, 3 to illness and 2 to predators. The remaining 7 have been thriving until this week. One Tom is looking very sickly. He sits all the time even when turned out on pasture. He was looking a little shakey in the legs but he was/is still eating. Tonight I noticed that his head and neck are changing color from a healthy pink color to a blotchy red. My questions are: Is there anything I can do to bring him back to optimum health. Does anyone know what might be wrong with him? And if I must slaughter him early, is he safe to consume? They all get a diet of corn and oats (unfortunately I am not sure if it is non-gmo corn nor is it organic). They also get organic sunflower seeds and turned out on pasture for several hours per day. Would do more but the foxes and hawks always hang out here. Fresh water daily. I don't know what else to do.
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,902
678
296
Australia
Looking for answers. This is my first attempt at raising turkeys for food. As a recent cancer survivor, I have become very particular about each organically and as pure as possible. I purchased 12 white broadbreasted turkeys June 1. I demanded that they not be vaccinated as I plan on harvesting them for meat. I lost 5 for various reasons, 3 to illness and 2 to predators. The remaining 7 have been thriving until this week. One Tom is looking very sickly. He sits all the time even when turned out on pasture. He was looking a little shakey in the legs but he was/is still eating. Tonight I noticed that his head and neck are changing color from a healthy pink color to a blotchy red. My questions are: Is there anything I can do to bring him back to optimum health. Does anyone know what might be wrong with him? And if I must slaughter him early, is he safe to consume? They all get a diet of corn and oats (unfortunately I am not sure if it is non-gmo corn nor is it organic). They also get organic sunflower seeds and turned out on pasture for several hours per day. Would do more but the foxes and hawks always hang out here. Fresh water daily. I don't know what else to do.

Firstly, hello and
welcome-byc.gif


About your tom... First guess is probably some kind of cardiovascular or respiratory problems.

If you're serious about rearing healthy turkeys for your own health you are better off not getting commercial, intensive-husbandry-dependent meat breeds. They are rife with multi-generational health problems, and the diet they need (the pellets etc) only further the issues... For best health, better to breed your own, and of a more natural type that can live on the diet you're offering. You end up with a bit less meat but of a superior nutritional and flavor quality, to say nothing of the health qualities. But of course that's beyond some people's means, as ideal as it is.

If he's unwell for a prolonged period of time, no, I wouldn't eat him personally, it has whole-organism fallout. The whole body is affected by something being wrong.

If you don't know if the corn is GMO, chances are it is, generally. In some places up to 98% of all yellow and white corn is GMO.

In order for us to be able to assist you, we need more information; the answers to the following questions should help a lot:

What symptoms of illness did the last two you lost have?

What color and consistency are his poops?

Does he have sniffles, does he sneeze, does his sinus area between nostril and eye flare out on either side when he breathes?

Is his crop emptying overnight?

What diet are you feeding him besides the sunflower seeds, corn and pasture?

Best wishes. Congrats on surviving the cancer.
 

FarRider

Hatching
5 Years
Sep 30, 2014
2
0
7
Thank you for the response and the general info on my next batch of Turkeys. The more I read, I was thinking along the same lines. I definitely want to hatch my own so I know they are not given any vaccines. As to your other questions:

What symptoms of illness did the last two you lost have? Two died within a week of getting them home. They just went totally lethargic for a few hours and then died. They had runny yellow white-ish poops. The third I euthanized due to some kind of leg issue. a vet tech looked at him. We thought he had broken both legs. He was unable to stand but could sit up on his hocks and flop around. Once he got where he wanted to go, he would just sit up. We tried to splint his legs but I couldn't stand to see him suffer.

What color and consistency are his poops? This tom has dark liquidy poops. He is also very dirty all over. The others are not clean birds but he is exceptionally dirty.

Does he have sniffles, does he sneeze, does his sinus area between nostril and eye flare out on either side when he breathes? I have not noticed him sniffle or sneeze but I try to avoid a lot of contact with them so I don't get attached. He does seem to breathe a little loud

Is his crop emptying overnight? I never see it full

What diet are you feeding him besides the sunflower seeds, corn and pasture. Just some kitchen scraps of bread, veggies and fruits. I was feeding Layena Crumbles but stopped that last month after reading that turkeys can survive on pasture and kitchen scraps. The least amount of commercial stuff they get, the better for me. Next years crop will be fed organic non gmo corn that I plan on growing here.

On a lighter note, he did seem better tonight. He was drinking a lot, he ate and he was standing for longer periods of time rather than just sitting. And his legs were not as shakey.

I have read that some peoples turkeys drink a half gallon of water a day. I'm not sure all 7 of mine drink a half gallon of water combined. I clean both waterers every day too.

Do you have any suggestions for a different breed. I was also thinking of quail. I have raised chickens for many years for eggs but have never had to deal with any of these issues.
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,902
678
296
Australia
Thank you for the response and the general info on my next batch of Turkeys. The more I read, I was thinking along the same lines. I definitely want to hatch my own so I know they are not given any vaccines. As to your other questions:

What symptoms of illness did the last two you lost have? Two died within a week of getting them home. They just went totally lethargic for a few hours and then died. They had runny yellow white-ish poops.

Yellowish diarrhea can be a sign of a few things but probably the majority of the time it's 'Blackhead' or Histomoniasis; it can be treated, and individuals have differing levels of resistance and immune response to it, but it does often kill some or even all.

Chooks rarely suffer from it but turkeys are overall very susceptible to it. It can kill chooks too, always good to be aware of that.

Generally it's passed along via consumption of earthworms carrying infected oocysts they've ingested, but there are other means of transmission. If you've never dealt with BH before, it's only a matter of time before you have to, so best to read up on it sooner or later. It may or may not be your problem right now. Generally though you will see those yellowed runny poops if it's BH. Only rarely will you see the blackened head and neck skin it's named for, but despite some claims to the contrary, that symptom does indeed occur sometimes.

The third I euthanized due to some kind of leg issue. a vet tech looked at him. We thought he had broken both legs. He was unable to stand but could sit up on his hocks and flop around. Once he got where he wanted to go, he would just sit up. We tried to splint his legs but I couldn't stand to see him suffer.

Some diseases and bacteria can do that, worms can too, so can deficiencies, but it's pretty common for meat birds to have leg problems. Theirs is not really a breed designed to enjoy life, unfortunately. I reckon that's one big reason why they taste so bad compared to animals that did enjoy life. ;)

What color and consistency are his poops? This tom has dark liquidy poops. He is also very dirty all over. The others are not clean birds but he is exceptionally dirty.

Hmm... The dirtiness I don't know about. Is there a chance something got into their area and roughed him up? It's also possible that the other toms are mounting and attempting to mate him, generally the only time I see dirty turkeys it's when they've been mounting one another.

Many male turkeys have a glitch in their heads about anything white and recumbent, as they mistake it for a hen inviting them to mate (doubtless exacerbated by countless generations bred using AI and dummy mounts that don't even look real, or white sleeves/gloves etc)... So they will mount dead white chickens and all sorts of other non-mate 'mates', and persist with attempting to mate long after it should have been abundantly obvious that it's never going to happen. They just stay there, just sitting on and trampling their intended mate. This mating behavior can also be seen in baby turkeys of both genders, it's not just something adult toms will do.

Depending on the color of his dark poops, it could be a few things. Are they green, or brown, or how would you describe them?

Does he have sniffles, does he sneeze, does his sinus area between nostril and eye flare out on either side when he breathes? I have not noticed him sniffle or sneeze but I try to avoid a lot of contact with them so I don't get attached. He does seem to breathe a little loud

That rules out a few things, but it's still not much proof of anything in the way that abundant mucous would be.

Is his crop emptying overnight? I never see it full

Well, it's probably not crop binding then, but could be gizzard or stomach binding. Do you see him eat, and does he eat normally if so? If you think he's blocked up internally, a few tablespoons of cold pressed olive oil can shift things really well. I use those needle-less syringes for it, much easier than trying to actually spoon stuff into his mouth, though some people have that down to a fine art.

What diet are you feeding him besides the sunflower seeds, corn and pasture. Just some kitchen scraps of bread, veggies and fruits. I was feeding Layena Crumbles but stopped that last month after reading that turkeys can survive on pasture and kitchen scraps. The least amount of commercial stuff they get, the better for me. Next years crop will be fed organic non gmo corn that I plan on growing here.

I think we are seeing part of your problem here. Too many people give the advice to newbies that chickens, turkeys, ducks, whatever, can survive on scraps and pasture alone. Unfortunately, most can not. They are far too removed from their efficient and hardy wild type, and some breeds are utterly dependent on the processed crud their breed was developed in conjunction with. They cannot cope with anything less, or really it'd take some serious know-how to substitute it. (Which, thankfully, is available on this site, though it may take some searching and digging to find it).

They need the fats and oils and proteins etc, and all the other nutrients, in exact ratios, or they will suffer problems from it. Even more unfortunately, meat type breeds often can't have scraps or pasture added as they then imbalance their intake ratios and suffer deficiency problems due to that; some have to be restricted to their unnatural diets or they will die, and the same is true for some chooks, they become nutritionally impoverished when enabled to once again access the diet their ancestors thrived on.

If you had wild-type or more mongrel type turkeys, then yes they could survive on pasture and scraps, provided the pasture had enough herbs of enough species, and the correct species, as well as insect life of the correct species and quantity, for them to cope without supplementary feeding. Otherwise they must be provided with premixed and balanced foods.

Their bodies are bred to be imbalanced to suit our economical interests, with enormous protein needs, they're weakened by their mass and other problems associated with it, and unable to forage naturally; also, they lack the prerequisite instincts for it and do not have the sense to look after themselves nor eat the right things in the right amounts, etc. They are like massive infants compared to other birds. You can't rely on them to stop eating something because they've had too much; their appetite is what vets used to call 'deranged' due to their breed type.

On a lighter note, he did seem better tonight. He was drinking a lot, he ate and he was standing for longer periods of time rather than just sitting. And his legs were not as shakey.

Well, that's good to hear. I would definitely recommend that while you have these types of turkeys, you get them some sort of premixed feed or find out the recipes others have formulated to substitute for it; plenty of people on this forum keep meat breeds on home made mixes. You can set them up to be organic and wholefood and all that but it does take know how and a bit more effort than just pouring crumbles out of bags... But for your needs, it may be the best route to go, and probably not even as troublesome as I've possibly made it sound.

If you don't get them onto a steady and balanced diet you might not have any left come cull time; they are prone to heart problems as well as many others, and being meat breeds they show deficiency problems so much faster than other breeds (with the possible exception of layer breeds).

But more importantly disease is always present, in the soil and air, water and wildlife and so forth, and they carry a lot of bacteria which can overwhelm them while they're under the weather, and deficiency stress is one way to enable that.

I would, personally, (if you don't think he's blocked up internally), give the turkey a wholemeal sandwich with something like greek style yoghurt or cold pressed olive oil binding cayenne pepper or tabasco to the bread; it will do his cardiovascular system as well as the rest of his body a lot of good, burn any parasites resident in his gut, and it's been used both as prophylactic and treatment for blackhead. I think it probably helps with cocci too; I know for sure that raw freshly minced garlic does wonders for that, never had a cocci case due to feeding them raw garlic, plus it's good against disease in general of course; I've also never had respiratory disease problems due to the raw garlic supplementation, as well as an absence of overall viral or bacterial problems.

I have read that some peoples turkeys drink a half gallon of water a day. I'm not sure all 7 of mine drink a half gallon of water combined. I clean both waterers every day too.

I don't know how much water is ideal, mine always had free choice from bowls shared with various other poultry so I couldn't measure it offhand, given my flock husbandry methods.

Do you have any suggestions for a different breed. I was also thinking of quail. I have raised chickens for many years for eggs but have never had to deal with any of these issues.

Turkeys sure can be difficult! For a different breed, well, anybody's backyard mutts would probably be fine, not overly meaty but tougher than commercial ones. You may well also be able to get more heritage style broadbreasted turkeys, still great for meat but unlike commercial broadbreasteds, they're often able to live on pasture, scraps, etc (provided all nutrients are available in necessary levels of course), able to roam and enjoy life, etc.

I've never kept quail but they sound interesting... I don't know offhand what would be a good breed or species for you, sorry, a lot depends on your land and how much finances and time you have, and the cages or other resources necessary to make it all function.

Best wishes with them.
 

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