threatened by a turkey?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by mpguay, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. mpguay

    mpguay Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am new to turkeys. I have 12 twelve-week-olds. Blue Slate and Bourbon Red. The toms are getting BIG. They are sweet and follow me around. Can they turn on me like a rooster can? I was pretty impressed at the ferocity of a Polish rooster who turned on me. But these toms are 3 times the size. and, yes, I saw the documentary "Talking Turkey".

    From what I have read here on the forum, turkeys in general seem to be calm and easy to deal with. mine are lovely so far.

    Has anyone had a bad experience?
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    I did once buy turkeys off someone who thought inbreeding didn't matter with birds etc, only mammals, and they bred turkeys who would always attack once your back was turned. They'd kept their toms in with a pig and the pig lived in fear of them.

    Since these were my first ever turkeys, they were predestined to be food anyway, so I didn't mind. Otherwise I never would have bought off them. As you'd expect, from such unsocialized parents came antisocial chicks that bullied chickens enthusiastically, and once toms reached adulthood we had a few start displaying at us and hurrying towards us when our backs were turned.

    If they display at you and gobble when you speak, you can probably safely assume you're on their target list. Not that these signs may be present even if you are. And a family member was responsible for getting them to view all human talk as challenging them, because they'd repeat the gobbling noise every time the turkey did it and as with chickens this led to the animal making the noise nonstop and every time humans talked within earshot. I am a firm believer that for the animal to respect us, it does not need to view us as a bigger male or female of its own species... I believe that to be faulty logic. It requires backing up physically to prove such dominance and that leaves children etc at a potentially fatal disadvantage. My animals will respect humans because we're humans, not because we are all able to assert dominance. If they ever show disrespect I cull. It takes an aberrant mind to show that disrespect in the first place.

    Anyway, the next batch of turkeys we got were fine with people but gradually I wound up with no toms because the males kept killing new hatchlings while trying to mate with them. They went from being exemplary fathers to killing without warning. Every time it happened I'd cull the male and breed a different one. Some of the males would also suffer a snap of sorts where they would try to kill a female while trying to mate with her. Culled those too. With all of these aberrant behaviors there was no warning whatsoever. They were fine until their second breeding season and then they just began acting psycho.

    One of the females from this family took such exception to my continued interruptions in her breeding plan that she started seriously attacking me too. Stupid thing would never brood anywhere safe, she preferred the side of a public road to a cage or our own paddocks. We had large uninhabited paddocks as well as the ones used by the chooks, it was merely a case of her preferring the road.

    From my experience with turkeys, these varying negative traits (as with chickens) are heritable, but seem more weakly heritable than chickens's behavioral issues. They take longer to surface too. Each family line I had carried distinct behavioral issues, with the males and females having their own variants on it; aggression to other poultry was a big problem for some. A permanently hysterical sort of mindset was another issue with some others. None of my males ever lasted for more than two breeding seasons due to some severe and sudden behavioral fault rearing its head without warning. This I think has a lot to do with most breeders I know only breeding their under-year-old males and culling them before maturity. The mindset they will display at maturity remains unknown until you let them reach maturity like I did. But it's being passed on stealthily nonethless.

    They can be very dangerous. I would source my next family lines of turkeys carefully in future. Since these were all just interim measures designed to get us home grown turkey flesh ASAP, this was not really an issue for us, though one aggressive female did destroy a whole clutch of chicks by scratching the ground in warning to us whenever we approached. (She crippled them and they died). So sometimes the turkeys themselves cost us clutches.

    Good turkeys are no trouble. Bad turkeys are a huge amount of trouble.

    The only truly sweet turkey I had was not worth breeding, because she had that inherited disorder that caused her to spasm whenever she heard water drops, so she always risked drowning in the rain. In short, there were endless bad breeders of turkeys in my area and in future I will be more picky, but they served their purpose at the time.
     
  3. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I have four turkeys, two hens and two toms. The toms are a Midget White and a Narragansett; the former is a year old and the later was hatched on May 6 of this year.

    Sarge the MW is like a puppy dog to me, but he has flogged a friend of mine, once. However, she was afraid if him and demonstrated it, so he obliged her by confirming her fears. Since then, she put on her Big Girl Panties (so to speak) and stopped being afraid of him. He hasn't acted squirrelly around her since.

    Nigel my Narragansett Tom is still pretty young, hasn't even gobbled yet although he has fluffed up into full display a few times.
     
  4. chicken pickin

    chicken pickin Overrun With Chickens

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    I have 13 turkeys at the moment ranging in age from just over a year down to 6 weeks old. I have only had 1 Tom challenge me( I do blame myself though I tried interfering when the toms were sparring and I think he then viewed me as a sparring tom also) I don't put up with bad behavior though if the behavior doesn't change they go to the freezer. This Tom ended up joining us for Easter dinner. All of my other turkeys though are lovely. It will happen time to time that you may get a fresh one who wants to challenge you just don't back down or act scared. If one does challenge you stand tall and hold your arms out and act big, walk towards him until he backs up he should get the idea. But in my experience, generally turkeys are mild mannered.
     
  5. Dire Wolf

    Dire Wolf Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 12 Bourbon Reds, 1 full grown tom and I'm not sure how many juvenile ones yet. We've had them for about 4 months now and I've never had them act aggressively toward any of us, even my 18 month old or my 6 yr old. The tom fluffs up and dances but he never faces us and never charges us either. He does chase the puppies though. They try to eat the scraps I put out for the birds though. As far as I can tell, they are incredibly gentle, the wonderful lady I bought them from said they were really gentle and friendly and I'm finding that to be the truth. I don't have any babies as of yet, nor do I have any broody hens either. He does follow me and chatter (more like cooing though) while I'm feeding and watering. He doesn't even bicker with my rooster, he's only about 8 inches tall though and that could have something to do with that. lol HTH :)
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: In a nutshell, this is my experience: it depends who you buy them from.

    It all depends on who bred the latest few generations. If you can describe the person you buy them from as 'wonderful' then there's every chance the birds will reflect this personality.

    So far my worst turkeys have all come from nasty people. This is my experience with chickens too. If the person you're buying from is not overly nice, assume the birds will reflect this too, if they've been breeding them for a few generations. Like dogs, strains of chickens often reflect their owner's mentalities. I will never again buy a rooster from someone who believes it's natural for a male to attack anything and everything by virtue of his gender, as an example.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013
  7. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Hear, hear! :thumbsup I don't think I have ever had it articulated that clearly before, but I do believe it.
     
  8. mpguay

    mpguay Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 27, 2011
    Sounds like very good news.
    My turkeys are so pleasant, I just hope it stays that way. I find myself liking them even more than my chickens. Thanks for all your comments.
     

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