Thinking Turkey

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Bush84, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. Bush84

    Bush84 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So I will be new to keeping poultry this spring. I plan on getting 5 buff orpington hens and a rooster. I got into this as I love the idea of having a small hobby farm and being self-sufficient. Now getting chickens for eggs is great. Then I started to think about for meat. Well it seems any poultry that is bred for meat cannot reproduce on its own. Yes I could buy Cornish x or the Bb turkeys, but that defeats the purpose of being self sustainable. I want to build my own incubator and hatch my own chicks. Yes I could breed orps, but then I started reading about turkeys. Not only are they pretty but they are also much larger. So I became very interested. I built a small coop for my chickens with the intention of only getting enough for eggs, but I do have a large dirt floor pole barn in the back. 70x35 if I recall. I just moved out to an old 8 acre farm house last summer. This would be great for a large number of poultry, although i don't think I will start large. So here are my thoughts/questions.

    1. The shed has zero natural light, but does have electric. It has two lights, but I can do my own wiring. It is still pretty dark in there with two standard bulbs. Any thoughts on light? I am hesitant to spend more money than I have to and adding skylights sounds expensive. Is it worth adding a few more fixtures with large lumen bulbs? Should I use a timer?

    2. Predator proofing. It's got a dirt floor and gophers easily dig through. What is the easiest/cheapest way to keep things out? Staple hardware cloth in an l shape around the inside?

    3. I live on 8 acres. I am not terribly interested in making a gigantic fence. Will the heritage breeds stay within my 8 acres? I am bordered on all sides by corn. Will that help or hurt? I can always clip wings if needed to keep out of trees. If I need to just go for the fence then what do you do. I have a lot of grass I'd rather not mow anymore.

    4. I know there is a blackhead issue with chickens. As of now they would be in seperate living quarters, but would it be bad to eventually put some Cornish x in the same shed if I decided to raise some?

    I don't think I'll be able to convince the wife that we need turkeys until next year. She is hesitant about getting chickens so I will need to work her in slowly, which also includes slaughter. But we'll get there when we get there. Any thoughts on this?

    Edit-I had another question. Since my shed is large, would I be ok only letting them free range when I am home or should I figure out an auto door situation? I work 12 hour shifts and work a lot. I have a 6 year old son, but I think he'd be to young for turkeys. With a 35x70 shed, would 4-6 turkeys do ok staying home with proper light? I guess this goes back to the part about auto doors and making a fence. I just really don't want to make a big fence. Lol
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop
     
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  3. Bush84

    Bush84 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was hoping that my buff orps would be a decent dual purpose breed. I am also hoping that if I get into turkeys that the bourbon reds would also be a good dual purpose breed. That is why I am planning them instead of other breeds.

    As far as wandering goes, do the surrounding corn fields offer any concern? They aren't my fields. I would hate for them to mess them up or maybe they will just use it for cover or maybe avoid them altogether. Some past experience would be great.

    Predation certainly is a concern, which is why I ask about proofing my dirt floor. We have smallish predators here think fox, coyote, bobcat, coons, etc. No snakes, wolf, bear. I do not currently have a dog but a Great Pyrenees appeals to me. I think that my biggest threat is fox and coyote which should be more of a night time risk. So I am hoping that if I can secure my shed I can be pretty safe, but I know my wife would feel better with a dog around.
     
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop
    I've no experience with corn fields but I do have a largish veggie garden and I have it fenced to keep the free-ranging birds out of it. Turkeys eat about what chickens do which means they love a green tomato, and will decimate my leafy greens in minutes.

    If the Buff Orps are from a hatchery (if they came from a feed store they are hatchery) they may not be very good dual purpose birds. BO's (the breed) are a dual purpose breed but the hatcheries don't breed to retain the best qualities of both purposes. The majority of people are looking for egg layers so hatcheries mix many of their breeds with Leghorns in order to improve their laying. This comes at the cost of size, diminishing their value as a meat bird. When I started out, I had hatchery BO's and I enjoyed them. Then I visited the state fair and saw what a BO was supposed to look like and realized how puny mine were by comparison.

    Bourbon Reds are a good choice. I have them along with Royal Palm and Black Spanish. They are all great heritage breeds in my opinion. I would have to say that my Bourbon Reds are the least friendly of all of them. The RP and BS will come up to me and peck at buttons on my shirt or even jump up and stand on my back if I bend down, whereas the BR's keep their distance. But they are quiet, good layers and our Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys got rave reviews. I only keep one tom since toms fight quite aggressively in breeding season. My tom is BR so when I hatch the RP and BS eggs, they are mixed breed. That works fine for me to raise for meat. Any purebred BR poults are easy to sell.

    On dogs.....GP's are a great breed for LGD, but keep in mind that they should be kept in (at least) pairs due to the nature of the way they work. Also, being a large breed dog they mature slowly. It is recommended not to leave pups unsupervised with poultry as losses will often result. Once they are 18 months to 2 years of age, they'll be reliable livestock guardians but until then they are quite a bit of work. Although it is in their nature to be guardians it doesn't mean they don't still need training to do their jobs well. Also, GP's were bred to guard hundreds of acres so will roam unless you have fencing to contain them to your property.

    You are correct that most predators work at night. However if you look in my signature you'll see a link to the story of my fox attack, which happened between 4-5pm on a July afternoon - broad daylight. I had also worked under the assumption that if I built Coop Knox to keep them safe at night, I didn't have to worry about the day time. I hear coyotes at night around here but also see them frequently during the day. Just yesterday morning I opened my front door to see a huge coyote loping down our dirt road. Another predator that most people don't consider is other dogs. I.e., your dogs, your neighbor's dogs, stray dogs........Dogs are the least often considered because we think of them as friendly, household pets. And for the most part they are unlike other predators in that they chase and kill birds for the fun of it rather than because they are hungry. But when a dog gets in and starts going after your flock, they are often worse than a wild predator because it is just a game to them. They chase one and play with it until it stops moving and then move on to the next. And dogs are most often around during the day.

    Sorry.....not trying to be a downer - just trying to be realistic.
     
  5. Bush84

    Bush84 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here are a few pics of my shed.

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    Looks like I have some gaps around the sliding doors as well. Would it be a bad idea to just make a seperate enclosure within the shed? It could just be a simple hardware cloth enclosure, like a run.
     
  6. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    Turkeys love rafters :lol:

    Not sure about how much more light to add in a space that large. Maybe open up portion of wall on downwind side and replace with hardware cloth and shutter/plastic cover for winter. Subdividing should work well. They don't require a huge domicile. Some shots of a much/much smaller area for comparison:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/940765/prefab-shed-coop
     
  7. R2elk

    R2elk Overrun With Chickens

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    For the type of shed that you have it isn't that expensive to replace some of the roofing panels with clear panels which will act as skylights. The clear roofing panels are much cheaper than are skylights. They are also much cheaper than adding windows. Check for them at your local lumber store.
     
  8. Bush84

    Bush84 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's what I was thinking of when I said that, but I have never installed them.
     
  9. R2elk

    R2elk Overrun With Chickens

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  10. Bush84

    Bush84 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How small of a gap is small enough to not worry about? There are plenty of gaps in this shed and I'm assuming some are good to ignore.
     

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