Turkey newbie questions

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by kywest, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. kywest

    kywest Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 14, 2009
    central Ohio
    Hi All
    I have two 7wk olds - a BBW and a slate, intended for thanksgiving. Didn't realize they'd need more time then the 15-16 weeks we have to fill them out (and obviously neither did the guy i bought them from;-)
    My questions are:
    1. Can i slaughter early and just have smaller birds? I live in a rather residential area and keeping turkeys long term wasn't part of my plan:rolleyes: Wasn't sure if the meat quality would be different on very young birds.
    2. I can't find game bid starter ANYWHERE. Have tried to add various protein supplements (cooked chicken, scrambled egg, shelled sunflower, mealworms) and they won't TOUCH any of it. Scary new food!! They are on chick starter right now (again, compliments of the guy i got em from). Any suggestions for getting more protein into them or, what are the consequences of just keeping them on chick starter?
    3. They are seriously out-growing their garage cage. (dog crate size). They are skittish as can be, so I'm afraid to let them run around my yard like my hens (we have about 1/3 acre back yard). Thinking of building a tractor out of pvc, or portioning off part of chicken run (they go there during the day sometimes while chickens are locked inside). How much "shelter" so they need? Would a tarp over one end of a tractor be enough? Would like to put them to work in my weedy, over-grown garden.
    I'm scared to put them in with the 8 chickens (7 hens/1 roo) - they seriously beat up one of the new pullets this spring. Much as I love em, they MAY NOT eat my turkeys before i get to!!
    thanks for the wisdom!
  2. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    Your slate will be nowhere near ready for Thanksgiving. You can process them at any age really it's just the younger they are the less filled out they will be. I'm suprised they won't go after the hard boiled eggs, ours love them. The yokes the most - I think they are drawn to the color. On feeding turkeys are creatures of habit big time. Try just some hard boiled egg yokes on top of their feed, make it so they have to pick thru it to get to the feed. You can feed them chick starter full term but they won't thrive on it, they will grow slower and fill out later which isn't what you want for a Thanksgiving bird. The more room they have the better for growing birds - tractors work. At 7 weeks old if they get wet you are going to have problems, a cold wet poult equals a dead poult in short order. it's still warm so really not much shelter is needed. Are they roosting? if not you will need to teach them to get them up off the ground at night. That's part of the whole cold poult thing. [​IMG] The tarp will work in a tractor just fine, I would probably cover the whole top and leave the sides open so they can't get wet.

  3. slc

    slc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 10, 2008
    Upper Michigan
    BBW do not perform the same in the backyard as they do in a managed growout. Your BBW will take longer than the industrial standard of 14-18 weeks. You can take the BBW early, that is perfectly fine.

    The slate takes longer than 28 weeks at minimum, they are not designed for meat qualities. The slate won't be what most might expect on the table. It will be shaped more like a bullet with long legs, rather than a round plump turkey. Because they take longer to mature, however, they will taste better.

    Feed the highest protein feed you have available. I've heard of using kitten chow now and then, it is a good protein source, they generally love it. I supplement with extra chicken eggs by mixing in a mash with oatmeal and chick crumbles or flax meal. Serve it on a shiny pie tin. If they won't eat anything new, take their food away for a day and serve the new stuff on something shiny like aluminum pie tins the next day. I've noticed that turkey's are compelled to peck at anything shiny, they will be fixated on the new food.

    Put them where the chickens will see, hear and interact thru a barrier most of the day and night. In time they will learn to ignore each other and can be integrated with less stress. If you let them out ranging keep in mind that turkeys may not return to roost like a chicken unless they are raised from the start with chicks.

    I put my Beltsville poults in the house behind some deer netting for two weeks then took down one side of netting during the night. I leaned up pieces of plywood around the walls so the poults could duck behind out of site if they needed to. After a week everyone pretty much accepts their place in the pecking order.

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