Trying turkeys!


11 Years
Sep 11, 2008
Gray Court, SC
I was thinking about getting into turkeys more but wanted to see what everybody else does. Which way do you feel is cheaper? Having your own tom and hen so you can hatch your own or just order say 15 day old babies from a hatchery? I was just thinking about getting a tom and hen but then I would have to feed them both year round as where just ordering some I would only feed for just part of the yr. So thanks for any comments.

Well, the math for me works out something like this: I can buy 15 poults (that's usually the minimum order) for 9 bucks per bird. They say it takes fifty pounds of food to get a bird to processing weight so with no other costs figured in (and there are other costs for bedding, electricity for the heat lamps, electrolytes for the water if you use them, etc, etc, etc) you have about 30 bucks invested in each bird before processing costs if any are involved. So for me, it was easier to use that initial outlay for poults to buy good breeding stock. Each hen in my flock can lay up to 100 eggs per year. At 95% hatch rate in my kick-ass incubator that's 95 poults per hen per year. I can sell each of the poults for 10 dollars per bird when they reach one week of age and recoup my feed costs for keeping the birds over winter and pay for the electricity to hatch and brood the babies and even make a little profit. That's just my take on it.
I got 50 turkey chicks last year to raise for thanksgiving. 50 birds ate 50 lbs a day. They leave a huge foot print in the form of turkey waste. They are apt to get bumblefoot if you don't keep them dry. I let them free range after they got some size on them to cut down on feed, but the flock would wander to our neighbors houses (yes, all 50 birds) and it didn't last long.

When Thanksgiving rolled around I couldn't give the birds away. We ate alotta turkey. I still have two left. They terrorize the dogs and leave a mess on the porch. Stay away from turkeys on a large scale.

The economics depend of the quality of care that you give them, especially the feed.

We looked at the issue from a different angle. Our first turkeys just happened to be one month old poults. Later, we got threes hens who started to lay as soon as they joined us. So far, we haven't used an incubator and our experiences with poults and eggs has helped us to make the decision to breed our own. Our first poults no longer had their mother and followed us everywhere and we had to watch over them as you would young children. The eggs that came later hatched into poults that were put with one of the hens. She nurtured them taught them generally looked out for them. She still looks out for them as they range the land even though they are 16 weeks old. We fed, watered and sheltered them and gave them a full course of inoculations. However, having mother with them reduced our workload considerably compared with the first five orphans.

Any advantage of breeding your own is that you know exactly how they have been fed and kept. I wouldn't want another turkey to be brought here now in case it brought a disease with it. We were lucky with those that we bought but I don't need to be concerned about it now that we shall breed our own. I can tell those who want to buy our live turkeys their entire history from hatching.

Popular wisdom is that a mating pair might be difficult when she wants to set and he has other ideas. Consider getting no less than two hens and one tom.

Having written all that, your decision will be influenced by the space that you have and coop arrangements. Can you say more about that?
Well, there's a tip or two for us all! Keep them dry and fence them in!

They do poop in some inconvenient places if you let them go there. I don't want to surround our house with 6' fencing so they occasionally leave a gift or two on the verandah. You leave it to dry for a few hours and most will brush away. Not a big problem unless you let fifty of them go where they want. They find some of my wife's favourite and loving nurtured pot plants irresistible too. She's not happy about that but if it was too much of a problem we could keep them away.

By the way, Bumblefoot can affect any type of bird. It's caused by poor hygiene, poor feed, obesity and bad perches. Turkeys need proper care. If you take that into account it should be possible to avoid it.
It also depends on what kind of turkeys you are interested in. If you want the Broad Breasted type that they sell commercially, get the poults. They get to big to breed and you would have to AI (Artifically Inseminate) them. Heritage types can breed with no help.

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