Thou shalt not bite the hand that feeds you! Mean Turkey?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by GobbleGobbleBaaak, Sep 28, 2011.

  1. GobbleGobbleBaaak

    GobbleGobbleBaaak Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 28, 2011
    Northern Virginia
    Hello All,

    my husband got our first Tom at 1 day old. He was the only one, and getting spoiled rotten for quite a long time. He never showed any aggression until we started to let him free range in the front yard. I haven't dealt much with him as my husband took care of "Jack" for the most part. Now that Jack is fully grown (he's a pretty big boy!), he started going after my husband a little bit here and there. It looks to me like a dominance thing....he fluffs himself up all proud, struts around and then sorta "bumps" and jumps at my husband a little bit and he has gotten 2 BITES in recently (broke the skin on his hand). He does let my husband pet him and move him around but he just seems unpredictable to be honest. I myself am afraid of him, so when I had to take care of him for a week while my husband was gone, I equipped myself with a broom before entering his pen to give him food and water. I have no doubt that he would have "jumped" me in some way.

    So now for the question....we would like to let all our Turkeys free range (we now have a total of 7 Turkeys, including another Tom who is MUCH friendlier than Jack!) but I'm worried that:

    #1: Jack will attack the other Tom (they are currently in pens next to each other and at first tried to jump each other through the fence). Will they eventually get along and be able to figure out who is more dominant without seriously injuring each other?
    #2: Will our Jack continue to try to bite and "jump" and is there anything we can do about it?

    I, personally, would just go out with a broom one day and put him in his place LOL don't misunderstand me...I don't mean "beating the Turkey" but I do mean I will fight back if he gets frisky again! I'm not going to stand there and take being bossed around while he rules the yard. Since it looks like a dominance thing to me (he's not straightforward with any aggression, he sorta sneaks up, strutting his stuff and then being testy), I figured he might just need to learn that it's not a good idea to be mean to the people that feed him or else, Thanksgiving will come early this year, <chuckle> (my husband would NOT consider having him for dinner or getting rid of him).

    Any suggestions or past experiences would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 30, 2008
    ND
    Here is a post with a lot of great suggestions: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=563463

    There
    is a chance that he just really 'likes' your husband. One thing I can say is don't 'attack' him. He will see it as aggression, that actually can make things worse.

    Unless you plan to keep the turkeys seperate forever, you'll have to let the two toms work things out. Unless one looks like it's life is really in danger, don't interfere. They might get a bit beat up, but they should work things out. There will still be a bit of fighting when breeding season comes around, but they'll get through it and things will calm down again.
     
  3. GobbleGobbleBaaak

    GobbleGobbleBaaak Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 28, 2011
    Northern Virginia
    Thank you so much for the advice, Frosty. That is a great threat. I will go ahead and get some grapes, cook up some scrambled eggs and see if I can get Jack to be less threatening. I'm definitely nervous and I'm sure that doesn't help. The other one, "Indy", just makes that "Chee" sound whenever I go up to his pen....he never displays, but just seems sort of sweet and it's almost like he's singing to me or something. So hopefully, that just means he likes me. The other one that has been nipping at my husband, does those noises to me to sometimes, but he usually displays also and just seems to be almost two-faced in a way.

    So much to learn! I'm SO glad I found this Forum. Thank you again and I'll write an update soon [​IMG]
     
  4. crj

    crj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 17, 2009
    Rocky Point, NC
    I have a tom that has become very aggressive to woman and children. I have no idea why. I have no problem with him since I do not show fear and I am a woman. I also feed and he sees me all the time. He is good with men for some reason. I tell people to ignore him as if he were a dog. He will do his best to intimidate you but will give up when he's not paid attention too. His favorite is standing behind you........ that gets the woman everytime and they crack so the tom wins. When I know someone is coming over I put him in the pen and he will stay there until people leave. That's just the way is has to be. He is fantastic with all the birds I have and even the babies. He is afraid of a couple of geese and a little afraid of the dogs but other then that he fears nothing else.

    My tom looks and waits for my daughter to come out of the house. You can see that goofy noggen of his peeking around the deck just waiting to pounce her. It's funny but it isn't. He can hurt someone. Some of it is her fault for showing fear and running from him. She will tease him a bit too. Yes, I get on her about it. I find if you feed him over a period of time he will become more friendly but it has to continue. Also, holding him whether on the ground or off the ground does show dominance. That has also worked in the past. You hold him and only let him go if he isn't struggling. That is the most important part. If he struggles and you let him down he wins and you aren't as dominant as you should be. So make sure the bird is calm when letting go and stand your ground.

    Standing behind him and holding him around his chest works well. Just don't let him stuggle to get away. Hold him until he is calm and let him know you are in control. I feel this does work even if it's temporary. A few times and you are the boss.
     
  5. GobbleGobbleBaaak

    GobbleGobbleBaaak Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 28, 2011
    Northern Virginia
    Thank you crj - I don't think I'm brave enough yet to actually hold on to him LOL I did manage however to NOT retreat today for the first time (I was equipped with a rake). He did his usual of coming up quickly and trying to intimidate me, but when I didn't budge and only said "WHAT DO YOU WANT, JACKA$$", he was really startled and just stood there. Then I walked towards him, rake at my side, and he made a quick jump backwards, almost seeming afraid. So for now, the tables have turned [​IMG]
    I made some scrambled eggs and fed those to him (from a bit of a distance) and after that he made some cooing noises...not sure how to describe those. He was still displaying but he didn't seem like he was going to hurt me or anything. I'll keep at it, and hopefully he will come around.

    I had everyone out for the first time today. I thought for sure the Eastern Wild would be the one in charge, but the other Tom we have, a Bourbon Red, took over within seconds and there wasn't even much of a fight. The girls just followed Indy around after that and Jack (the big boy) just kind of went off on his own...seeming like he didn't belong anymore.

    Funniest of all....Martha, our chicken was in charge of EVERYONE....she fought her way through the Turkey girls, then the boys and everyone made way for her. I haven't laughed this hard in ages!
     
  6. crj

    crj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 17, 2009
    Rocky Point, NC
    Honestly, I don't think hens fear much. Mine work there way to what ever food is tossed out to them. Not afraid of anything other then not getting a morsel. Hens just don't seem to tolerate much nonsense and they don't care how big you are. I find it very funny.

    It sounds like you made progress. Best thing you did was go toward your tom without hesitation. It's that hesitation that makes the tom win. I find always moving towards the tom without pulling back in any way is a sign to the bird that you mean business. Even if he were to jump at you you have to hold your ground. Sometimes he is just testing to see if you mean business.

    If you stand behind him and put your arms around his chest he can't get you. Hes feet are in front and he can't bight you. Bighting is the last thing on his mind. Getting away is the first and he will use his feet and body for that. If you ever get a good hold of him you will hear a very loud growl. I kid you don't. It's wild and frightening...... lol. That's usually when you pick him up. Just holding him in place as I said works very well. If your husband can hold him and then you take over and hold the tom for a while the tom will see that you were the boss and not your husband. Weird how it works but it does. Then walking towards him in an nonaggressive way makes it work better.

    I also take large pieces of watermelon or any kind of fruit and hand feed my tom. He was surprisingly gentle. They remember these things. Just don't pull away.
     

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