Something On turkey Head


10 Years
Nov 6, 2009
Springfield, Missouri


I have two Narragansett turkey toms that are about 8-9 months old and they have some kind of disease. They had symptoms several months ago for a while, then they went away. I haven’t been able to find any ill effects other than the stuff on their head. They don’t seem to have any respiratory problems or health issues, they still eat regularly and they get around in the yard with no obvious issues. In fact, other than the darkness on their head can’t find anything else wrong with them. Still I wonder what it is. This has come on in the last 3-5 days and has gotten worse. It was about this bad before. I see no swelling on the head or any where else.
Only these 2 toms have it. They live in a coop with 9 other turkeys, about the same age, and all of which came from the same hatchery at the same time. Also in the coop are 10 chickens and 2 geese. And before anyone gets upset about turkeys and chickens together, I have had my chickens and turkeys together for the past 4 years and have had no problems at all. And to the best of my knowledge, these symptoms are not consistent with Black Head disease.
Look all the males over and see if they don't have various degrees of similar scabbing at different locations. First thing I'd suspect is sparring injury.
That's about all I could think of too... I have read that black head doesn't usually cause the head to turn black but just to rule that out, how is the poop? I really suspect they have been fighting though.

Editing to add that I just saw your other post about the injured hen... if the boys are trying to breed, I suspect fighting injury even more.
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looks to me like fighting..

I have one wimpy tom that gets pushed around a lot (he's due to go to freezer camp soon).. he has scabs all over the back of his head where the other boys pick on him. Still eats and acts fine.. just never struts for the girls and tries to keep a low profile around the other boys
Went out and looked at all the birds tonight. At first it just looked like a black mold or something growing on them and that was my concern. Btu now that you mentioned it, I looked with a different thought and think you are right. All of the toms have it, some to a greater extent. One of the hens has some also, mostly on the back of her head, and even noticed it on one of my roosters that is in a different coop. And when I think about it, these are the birds that fight or get picked on or push others around. I also saw areas that had obvious scabbing and not just what looked like a dark coating. I just hadn't seen this before, even on the Toms that fought all the time.

In the past I've had multiple toms, at one point a Bourbon Red and a Spanish Black. They got a long pretty well but occassionally would get down and dirty and one would almost drag the other around. But I never saw any marks like these or any obvious injuries. May they were luckuy, maybe I wasn't as observant. Not sure. Right now I have 3 toms, 1 BBB and 2 Narr. The BBB follows the others around, and I have seen all of them stand around and fight over the hen that was injurred. Plan to harvest the BBB soon and hope that will make a difference in the power structure. In the past, both toms were servicing the hens, but almost like they had some kind of mutual agreement, they didn't interfer with each other when it came to the hens. They didn't fight during the act, at least not once he actually got on the hen. Maybe I was lucky. Who knows.

But thanks everyone for your input.

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