Thinking of getting Turkeys


Apr 15, 2017
Southwest WI
Hi all,
I have a mixed flock of 30 chicks almost 6 weeks old and I'm seriously thinking about adding Turkeys to the mix.
We found a place up north selling all sorts of started birds, they will be 4 weeks old at the time of sale which is set for June 10th.
I'm happy they will be 4 weeks old already and past their most vulnerable time because I heard Turkeys are very fragile. We didn't order from a hatchery because of this (they were $20 p/Turkey of the heritage breeds!)
I'd like heritage breeds...not knowing anything besides what I've read (better flavor, better temperament) and I've read Bourbon Reds are a great breed, so I thought we'd get about 6-10 of those. We will be raising them for meat...not sure if we will attempt breeding later on.
I will check with my extension office about blackhead before getting them.
What else should I be concerned about/take into consideration?
I know housing will have to be separate and I'm working on figuring out food at the moment (game bird feed for the higher protein seems to be the general consensus).
DH wants to free range all our birds which may be all the better for heritage breed that right? We have over an acre of land and are surrounded by farm fields.
Looking for any and all input. This site has been such a lifesaver with the chicks, so I thought I'd turn to you guys for the turkeys too!


7 Years
Jul 29, 2013
Southern Illinois
I absolutely love turkeys! I miss mine every day. I think I love my goats a little more though (converted turkey house into goat house). Before I got the goats, I had Bourbon Reds, Royal Palm, and Blue Slate. All great breeds. I recommend heritage breeds 100%. They're able to care for themselves and reproduce naturally. Plus, they're dual purpose and don't come with the major health problems that meat breeds come with, if you plan on keeping them past butchering age. There are plenty of people who keep turkeys with chickens. I personally chose and will choose in the future to keep them separate. There is the blackhead risk, but I would personally be more worried about the size difference between the turkeys and the chickens. I had a roo who would spar with my top tom through the fence, and I think we know who would have won if they were in the same pen! Also keep in mind that turkeys--namely the heritage and (obviously) the wild breeds--are very capable fliers. My older flock was very good about staying in their fence, but their children LOVED to fly up on the pole barn roof, cars, in trees, you name it. That's something to consider if you're considering free ranging. Just my two cents. Best of luck!


6 Years
Jun 10, 2013
I have bourbons, royal palms, and Narragansett. I keep them with my chickens all the time.

The hens I have cause more fights between roos than my toms do. The biggest problem from my toms and chickens are the toms I don't have in with hens. They sexually frustrated and try to mate a chicken. Usually ends up in a flat chicken. I you want to breed them keep 1 Tom to 3 to 7 Turkey hens.

If you have wild Turkey's around you might want to keep yours penned up. Being flock birds they will sometimes wander away with wild ones.

They don't go into a Coop like chickens. They roost where they please. Trees, fence, cars. Roof. Most of mine are homebodies and roost nightly on the kennel panel run I have built.

If I had to choose between Turkey's and chickens it would be Turkey's hands down. They have a much better personality than chickens.

If you are getting bourbon one thing about them they are extremely nosy if you are outside. They like to be part of whatever you are doing.

Good luck if get some.


Apr 15, 2017
Southwest WI
Thanks for the responses.
My DH wants to free range our chickens which would mean the same for our turkeys and we do have wild turkeys around.
Still trying to figure out how we're going to work that out since we have dogs too and I'm not 100% sure they can be trusted.
We'll have to see where we're at in that process I think before we commit to another 1/2 dozen turkeys on top of it.
I'm still researching and considering it. I've heard turkeys are fantastic to have around, and I'm sure we will love having them when we do decide to get them, whether it's on June 10th this year, or sometime later. I just want to be prepared for them. Having chickens has taught me that for sure. I mean, I knew a lot cuz I'd read everything I could get my hands on, but we didn't build the coop first and now we're scrambling to finish it this weekend so they can have more space.
Again, thanks for the responses, I love hearing from folks who have/have had them first to get that sort of insight, it sure helps!

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