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Turkey housing. Teach me the basics.

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by irf1983, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. irf1983

    irf1983 Songster

    May 7, 2009
    Brooksville, FL
    I want to raise some turkeys for meat next fall. I'm going to order some midget whites. What are the basic essentials for turkey housing? Sq ft? Coop? Roosts? Feed?

    I have heard differing opinions on raising turkey with chickens. Should they be separate? If so, can I put turkeys in a run chickens have been in? Or do I need a fresh run?
  2. Lagerdogger

    Lagerdogger Songster

    Jun 30, 2010
    Aitkin, MN
    It depends.... Indoor space and roosts depend on if you are going to keep them inside in screen porches, ranging in pens, or loose in the barnyard. If you let them run loose, they probably won't roost where you want them to [​IMG] You will also get varying opinions on how long to keep the birds on which type of feed.

    Here's what I do. I have a 4x6 brooder that they stay in for the first three weeks. From three to six weeks, I open the door during good weather, and they have access to a 4x8 screened area, raised above the ground to keep them seperate from the chickens. I feel pretty good with up to 20 poults in there. At six weeks, they go out to a fenced range (6 ft high chicken wire) with a 10X10 covered roost. The roost has several 2x4s about 20 inches apart, laying flat so the birds can stand on the wide side. They are about 22 inches above the ground. For the first week they sleep in a ball on the ground, then they spend about 1 week sleeping on the roosts, then they move to the roof. They still use the shelter during daytime rain and for shade in the sun. There is also abundant natural shade in 1/3 of the fenced area. The range is surrounded by buried fencing and a low electric fence to deter predators, the most common of which is bobcats.

    I feed 28% protein turkey starter for about 1 month, then mix it with 22% meat maker for a couple of weeks, then go to straight meat maker until about 6 months. During this time, they can supplement their diet with grasses and bugs. After that they can go to something with lower protein, around here I can get a game bird feed that I think is 17% protein. I have a big hanging range feeder that is suspended in a small shelter to keep the rain out of the food.

    In the winter, a few survivors go back in the insulated coop for warmth for them, and proximity to the barn for me.

    Most people seem to be able to successfully mix turkeys and chickens without problems. I do not because I don't want to take any chances and I have the space so that I don't need to. The biggest risk is blackhead, which can kill a high proportion of poults. It is passed through the feces of the chicken (which it does not harm), and can survive in the ground for several years. If your chickens are carriers, you will have trouble. If not, no problem. Eventually, I plan to release one of my turkeys into the barnyard just to see if its safe, but not yet.

    There are books and magazines loaded with information (sometimes contradictory) on the requirements of brooders, coops, range, and mixing flocks. Some of these resources make it sound like it will be a miracle if any of your turkeys survive. Its not that hard. I have friends who brood them in cardboard boxes, release them into the yard, and only feed them meat maker and they turn out all right. (I don't recommend this, but mention it to make the point that if you don't have to do things exactly right to keep your turkeys alive).

    Sometimes maybe we make things harder than they need to be. But is sure is fun!
  3. ChurkLover

    ChurkLover In the Brooder

    Jul 9, 2010
    St. Louis
    We have 3 turkeys in with our 24 chickens and have had not problems for the four months they have been together. At first the Tom got picked on by a rooster but that only happened once. Tom is now bigger [​IMG] All of the birds were 3-4 months old when we put them in together. We have had no health issues and they all free-range but then go into the house at night (on their own) to roost.
  4. Tunastopper

    Tunastopper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2010
    If you already have a run that chickens where in why not just cover it think in bedding rather than build a new one. Turkeys do not scratch like chickens do.

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