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Turkey questions

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Gypsydals, Sep 8, 2014.

  1. Gypsydals

    Gypsydals Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 30, 2014
    Thinking about adding some turkeys next spring. I am really liking the way the bourbon reds look. Ideally I would like a breeding trio. But I have a couple of questions. How long does it take them to mature and typically how many eggs does a hen lay? Also are the bourbon reds good mothers? If anyone has a better suggestion on a breed let me know.
     
  2. Webechickens

    Webechickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 1, 2013
    East Central Indiana
    Hello, from Indiana. I have 6 Bourbon Red turkeys that are 4 mo old, 2 boys, 4 girls. I can't answer all your questions but I can say we love all of them. Super sweet and extremely curious. From what I've heard they won't lay until the spring. They are seasonal layers, not like chickens. From all I've read, the heritage turkeys usually make great moms. Good luck to you and enjoy your turkeys!
     
  3. Haida

    Haida Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 12, 2013
    Western NY
    I hear Bourbons are good all around: calm temperaments, clean up nicely for the table, decent growth rate. I haven't personally had them (I've had Spanish Blacks, Narragansett and Standard Bronze) but they seem quite popular.

    We have long winters... my girls don't start laying until late March or April! They're about 9-10 months old when they start and they lay only in the spring and summer and stop in the fall. Sometimes every day, sometimes every other day, sometimes twice a day! They aren't like chickens... by that I mean their laying times vary, BUT their eggs are very very consistent. I There aren't tiny "pullet" eggs to worry about... the first one she lays is basically what she'll always lay. I like to think of it like this: in the wild, turkeys can't physically afford to lay wonky, weird, tiny eggs that don't produce babies and put a strain on their bodies for no reason. I know we aren't talking about wild turkeys, but you know what I mean.[​IMG] Once they begin laying, I offer oyster shell.

    The length of sunlight they get per day makes them ovulate. I forget the actual hours needed... I just let them naturally come into it. I'm sure you could install a light to encourage them to lay earlier. Oh, and I love turkey eggs, I think the whites are a bit fluffier and the yolks are a little more "meaty" tasting. I'm in upstate NY, and we have such dark, cold winters... but if you're down south somewhere, she might begin laying earlier!

    Not all turkey hens will go broody, either. I think it depends on personality more... Or maybe some other unknown factor. I had four hens laying in the same nest box, then one of the more submissive hens sat on it. Then my tom made a nest next to hers and sat in that! Of course, I had to give him some eggs to sit on... but he kept breaking them. He tried, though, so I give him credit, lol! But she was a good mom when they hatched! I usually incubate my eggs, so I don't have too much experience with broody hens. From what I've read and heard, turkey moms are very good moms, regardless of breed.

    Hope this helps! You will not be disappointed, turkeys are incredible!!!
     
  4. Gypsydals

    Gypsydals Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 30, 2014
    Seasonal laying is fine with me. I confess I picked the bourbon reds because of the coloring. I couldn't find much online about the differences between the heritage breeds. Does it make a difference where you get your turkeys if you want them to end up going broody? I don't know if the broodyness has been bred out of them like some of the chickens. I do have all winter to figure out my end game plan and implement it in the spring. Just rying to become a bit more self sufficient/ home raised vs. store bought meats.
     
  5. Haida

    Haida Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 12, 2013
    Western NY
    This year, we're doing some 'eggsperiments' with the turkey and chicken eggs... I've frozen some (I broke them and put them in some Ziplocks into the freezer) and more old-fashioned methods, like leaving them unwashed at room temp and below, some have been rubbed down with mineral oil, some not. We haven't tried keeping eggs for long periods of time like this before, so we're just playing around at this point. And I totally agree with you about becoming self sufficient and more aware about where meals come from!! [​IMG]

    You know, I don't think turkeys have been bred enough to influence broodiness. Oh, but that reminds me! I saw an article on here forever ago about 'helping' hens go broody... ah, here it is! Increase Chicken Broodiness by up to 48% with Aluminum Foil

    I haven't tried it out yet, but it might work! Something about reflecting pheromones back to the hen when she's laying eggs. I think it would work for turkeys, too? I've also heard that the sight of a lot of eggs with encourage broodiness... for example, collect a bunch of eggs from their nesting boxes daily for a week, then one day, put them all back into the box... That might get her attention. Maybe?

    Nesting box placement is also important... my hens are usually very selective, secretive and private about a nest in the beginning of a season, but towards the end (like now) they just lay them anywhere and everywhere. It's kind of odd... I keep finding them in their wading pool or under the roost... sheesh!! I think its because in the beginning of the season, their intent is to hatch babies, but if I keep collecting them and incubating them myself... then it doesn't matter? Turkeys are mysterious.

    As far as where to get your stock from, I can't really tell you one way or the other. Hatcheries have a wide variety; but not always the most humane methods and their stock may not always be pure. If you're in the US, though, I bought some eggs from Val over at Gardienne Wings and she is very awesome to work with. She also sells poults and adults, so maybe she'll help you out? My Standard Bronzes came from a guy on Craigslist, and every spring, I see ads for various poults in the Farm and Garden section. But in this sense, you have to be careful because the poults may not be vaccinated/possibly not NPIP certified. Haven't had much trouble with my Bronzes, though. Oh, and if you haven't checked out Porter's Heritage Turkeys yet, I highly recommend it. People seem to be very pleased with his stock! I want to get some Sweetgrass turkeys from him, someday. [​IMG]
     
  6. Gypsydals

    Gypsydals Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 30, 2014
    I've checked out porter's heritage turkeys before but I couldn't find any pricing and such. I will have to check out Gardienne Wings and see what she has.
     
  7. Jediwalker

    Jediwalker Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 5, 2014
    Oregon
    I have heard that Porter's sells their poults for $15 each plus shipping on top of that.
     

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