Thinking about raising Turkeys

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by jcmoore4, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. jcmoore4

    jcmoore4 New Egg

    Jan 30, 2013
    I have recently debated on expanding my little homes operation of 20 chickens and some quail. I have gone back and forth between turkey's and goats, and have finally landed on the the next logical move would be turkeys. I have been doing plenty of research, and have narrowed my breed down to a few. The thing that is lacking is the info on raising a small group. I am thinking 6 max, and if that size is sustainable as far as the hens raising new birds and maintaining a flock of that size. So I am going to assume that it 6 is a good number for me.

    A few immediate questions:

    1. I currently put my chickens out to pasture daily, on our 1.5 acre plot. Will I be able to treat the turkey's the same as the chickens? Example: let them out to free range in the morning, and then close them up at night.

    2. I would really like to see everyone's turkey pen set up. What all is needed? enclosed? size? etc...

    3. I make sure my chickens keep feed. During the summer months they fend for themselves and go through little feed, but during these colder months they can go through some feed. Are turkey's as reliant during the winter? Is it even economical to keep turkeys? (I will use the turkeys for meat)

    Right now that is the main questions that I have, and I am sure I will have more to come. All input will be greatly appreciated!
  2. Mrsfoote

    Mrsfoote Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2010
    Laurel Montana
    I'm fairly new to turkeys myself and after wanting them for ages I found a lady nearby who was willing to part with a young Jake and a year old hen. I too want goats but having chickens already I was set up for the turkeys. I have a converted horse stall which is about 24 x 10 x 20 with about 20 nest boxes and a connected out door run in which I allow them to free range when I'm out there. While quarantining I had them in a small horse stall and clipped a single wing on each but the Jake kept roosting on the top of the horse stall, which made me worried he'd go over the run once moved in with the chickens.

    Not the case, as soon as we moved them in with the chickens and the squabbles were resolved no issues with run jumping. So if these birds are going to be in with your chickens lock them in a few nights with the birds until they learn their home and they should be fine. Mine will free range for a while and usually are the first ones in at night.

    Turkeys seem to be more cold hearty and dont seem to eat a ton more than the chickens so I'm not noticing a huge jump in feed costs.
  3. hdmax

    hdmax Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2013
    Central Ohio
    Turkeys eat a lot more then chickens, at least while they are growing, I have read, that once they are grown they will eat about the same or less then a big breed chicken. I can't answer that yet, as my oldest ones are about 20 weeks, and boy do they eat.
    As for letting them out for the day time hours, that is what I do, but I have to round them up for the night. They would rather roost on the fence, then in it. They also like roosting on the house, garage, or barn, if not in a tree. I have had to let them stay out over night a few times if I got home after dark, or they were up to high roosting. So far I haven't lost any due to this behavior.

    If you get new turkeys that have some size to them, and put them in with chickens, you will need to keep an eye on them, as they will try and kill the chickens.I added 22 laying hens to my flock, and even though the new chickens looked like the ones I already had, (At least to me.) the turkeys would have killed them pretty quickly had I not been there. They weren't just showing their dominance by pecking them, they were jumping on them, and attacking. And a 15# turkey landing on a 3-4# hen isn't pretty.
  4. tankerman

    tankerman Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 7, 2012
    Sonoma county
    My Coop
    Six turkey's will be fine on 1.5 acres, although you may need to clip their wings to keep them on your property.They'll forage just like chickens, but they'll need feed as well.

    We have no problem getting out turkey back into their enclosure at night, but we don't have many trees. If you've got a lot of trees, they may try roosting in them.
  5. phoenixrises

    phoenixrises Out Of The Brooder

    May 20, 2013
    I tried keeping my turkeys separate from our turkeys and it was a lost cause, If they didn't go into the chicken coop at night they would try to come into our house. . . So I gave up on making them sleep in their own area while they were free ranging.

    I got BBB for eating this year and I gotta say they have been a pain in the butt. ZERO survival skills. But I have a friend with heritage and I'm going to give those a try next year and then we'll see.
  6. jcmoore4

    jcmoore4 New Egg

    Jan 30, 2013
    Thanks for the advice everyone!

    One more question. Is there a rule of thumb as to how many toms per hen ratio?

    Here is my thought process on the situation. I am simply going to build a small pen for them. One big enough to house 6-10 turkeys with room for nesting. I plan on getting them, and keeping them in there for a few days to get them use to their new home. From then on I will let them out in the morning, and close them up at night. I am on a very small budget for the pen, and want to keep it as simple as possible. Should this work as far as keeping them near their home and on our property for the most part.

    It seems like my chickens just inherently know their boundary as far as the yard goes. I am surrounded on 3 sides by a road, and then a thick pine tree line on the 4th. And they stay within that area. I know the chickens will not stray very far from home naturally.

    I am pretty settled on bourbon reds. Will they stay within a safe distance from home base?

    Also, I would prefer to purchase older chicks if possible, or even grown. Does anyone know of anywhere I can purchase these in a respectable distance to Asheville, NC?

    Thanks for all of your input
  7. chicken pickin

    chicken pickin Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 3, 2012
    I have Bourbon Reds also and they are great, friendly personalities and very beautiful. They taste great also if you are planning on using them for food. Also the eggs are YUM delicious! As far as them staying in the boundaries. I have found that they have more of a wondering nature. I tend not to let mine out too often because I do have neighbors and a busy road in front of my house. They fly well and will roost on cars, roof of your house, deck railings and people say they love to roost in pine trees. I have only had one turkey hen wander off and thankfully my neighbor came to tell me she was at there house. Also my turkeys are coop trained so when they are confined to their pen they know bedtime means to go into the coop. If they are let out to free range they do not go back to the coop for bed they instead decide they like the railings on my front deck much better and then have to be corralled or carried back to the coop depending on how dark it is out. They are very easy to guide back to their coop though not like chickens that scatter everywhere and dodge you as you try to scoop them up. All you have to do is walk behind them with your arms stretched out and they will stay where you guide them. A stick in each hand helps give you a wider range.

    As for the Tom hen Ratio im not sure on that. Last year I got 5 poults and I ended up with 3Toms and 2Hens. One Tom joined us for Easter dinner. So we had 2Toms and 2Hens over breeding season and it wasn't good. The Toms thankfully get along very well so sparring was limited but one Hen got over mated and ended up with a gashed side. The Toms were separated from the Hens and she healed thankfully. I recently added 4 more Hens that I had been growing out to add to the breeder pen. So I now have 2Toms and 6Hens. Im hoping this ratio works well. If not Ill add a few more hens next year.

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