Turkey Hen Versus Chicken w/Chicks

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Stacykins, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. Stacykins

    Stacykins Crowing

    Jan 19, 2011
    Escanaba, MI
    My chickens and three turkeys all free range together. I did have a hen with little chicks I'd been keeping separate in a little coop/tractor until they grew a little. The chick coop is right next to the main one that the flock gets released from everyday. Today, I let the mother hen and her chicks out to free range, since they are quite robust and doing well.

    One of the turkeys waltzed up to the chicken hen, and the chicken promptly attacked. Which caused the turkey to attack and neither would back down. Considering a chicken against a turkey is surely a losing battle, when I saw they would not work it out, I picked up the turkey and tossed her into my goat pasture. The turkeys have one clipped wing, so they can't clear the fence. To be safe, I grabbed up the other two turkeys and put them together. The goats did not mind their new pasture mates and ignored them.

    I like letting the chickens and turkeys free range the entire property, but I'd rather not have them kill a hen. Do you think it will be habitual for the turkeys to attack a hen defending her chicks? While the turkey was not the instigator, it did continue to go after the hen as she attempted to retreat with her babies.
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    Yes, I think you've done everything you can here to avoid conflict and then done the right thing in response to it, but very much a resounding yes, they become very easily obsessed about attacking and don't usually snap out of it.

    The part where it chased the hen as she was trying to retreat is your last warning sign in all likelihood --- keep them separated or almost certainly, the turkeys will kill the hen. Once one joins in the rest tend to as well, they have a very obsessive and gang mentality. Rarely, they will break out of it, but chances are many chickens will die in the meantime.

    I used to freerange turkeys and chooks with no issues until a stupid White Leghorn male took to assaulting the turkeys from behind whenever they rested or turned their backs. Needless to say after a few days of that all the turkeys were making a beeline for him and chasing him trying to kill him all day, every day; after that, what had been peaceful coexistence became an unending campaign against roosters, even after I'd removed that rooster --- the other roosters didn't do anything to incite aggression but just looking like a rooster was enough, by that stage. It's not an uncommon issue.

    I eventually had to remove that turkey family line due to ongoing aggression issues, and the next one coexisted peacefully for years with the chooks, except for one male who became sexually attracted to chooks which posed unique problems. Had to remove him, but until pigs took my last breeding pair and a fox took the last lone female, that family line did not require separation from chooks again. Aggression to chooks is very rapidly learned, if you have a rooster who likes to assault turkeys he's a liability for all the poultry, as the instigator which can switch them into that killing mindset. Your hen, however, was doing her job, but went a bit overboard, it would have been far wiser for her to take the chicks scuttling away. Eh, well. What's done is done.

    You may be able to reintroduce the next generation of turkeys to the chooks to freerange together via raising turkey poults under chicken hens but it's pretty darn risky to try to reintroduce adults who have gone on the attack. All they need is to observe one turkey attacking and the rest will join in.

    Best wishes.

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