Turkeys coops and freeranging questions

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by mooman, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. mooman

    mooman Dirty Egg Eater

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    Apr 9, 2008
    Marietta, SC
    I plan on raising turkeys for meat this spring and after looking at different management strategies it seems that the best way to do it will be to mirror the management of my laying hens. They stay cooped up at night and free range on most days and in the evenings. I have been doing this for about a year and have only lost two hens when I left a tractor open over night. (the fencing required for range rearing will be cost prohibitive. I can only afford to fence in the garden)

    I plan on building a secure coop for the turkeys at night and letting them free range with my hens during the day.

    Questions:

    Will the turkeys, if brooded in the coop, reliably return there each night?

    Will the turkeys be at risk from disease from freeranging in the same areas as chickens?

    Any suggestions or advice?
     
  2. Guitartists

    Guitartists Resistance is futile

    Mar 21, 2008
    Michigan
    I'm still learning about turkeys myself.....

    There is a disease called Blackhead.... search for it. It is contracted by the turkeys from the chickens (I think) but is not in all areas. Check locally to see if it is an issue (I think it is most likely to spread when being housed together)

    Some folks say that if trained early they will return to the coop at night... but I have also seen some posts that give me the impression that at a certain age they develope minds of their own [​IMG] LOL
     
  3. sandspoultry

    sandspoultry Everybody loves a Turkey

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    Feb 10, 2008
    Eastern NC
    Are you planning on raising Broad breasted types or heritage turkeys? They are raised and fed differently. The BB types even though they are bigger use less space as they don't range quite as much. Our turkeys have large fenced areas to range in and they use most of it, in the summer they are back in the woods in the shade, this time of year they are more in the open areas.

    We raise our turkeys and chickens in the same area and haven't had any problems. The turkeys have access to the chicken houses but they prefer to roost outside.

    Steve in NC
     
  4. mooman

    mooman Dirty Egg Eater

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    Apr 9, 2008
    Marietta, SC
    I am leaning toward Heritage breeds but will go with whichever fits my situation better. Can they be raised together?

    Without fencing, will they return to to coop or will my birds suddenly choose to sleep in the trees?

    I was thinking about trying the free range and if predators become a problem I can switch to total confinement (I have room for about 8 birds in the proposed coop)

    Again, my only worry is that they decide to go native right before slaughter, or are they like chickens in that they will follow you off a cliff for a handful of scratch?
     
  5. sandspoultry

    sandspoultry Everybody loves a Turkey

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    Eastern NC
    The BB types will get larger quicker than a heritage type. Like a Cornish Cross chicken vs a heritage chicken. If you just want the quick meat turkey the BB is the way to go. The heritage will grow slower, not be as large, but they can self reproduce so you will have a never ending supply of turkeys.

    We cut down some small pine trees about 4 to 5 inches in diameter and put them up as roosts about 4 feet off the ground, that is where ours go every night. Once they find a spot they like to roost in, they will go there each night.

    Steve
     
  6. mooman

    mooman Dirty Egg Eater

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    Apr 9, 2008
    Marietta, SC
    so........is it even worth constructing a predator proof coop?

    Do the bbs still forage somewhat? I know the cornish crosses supposedly never move more than a few steps from the feeder. I've go a couple hundred acres of undeveloped woods behind the house and was hoping the turkeys would use it.

    Can you "call them in" when its time to slaughter?

    sorry for all the questions, but first hand anecdotes like these are hard to come by.
     
  7. sandspoultry

    sandspoultry Everybody loves a Turkey

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    Feb 10, 2008
    Eastern NC
    Quote:It really depends on your turkeys as to if they will use a coop or not. We have never "made" ours go in at night so they don't. The only time we force them to go inside is for a hurricaine or tropical storm.

    When we had BB types they would range some but not very far at all.

    Turkeys will get as tame and people friendly as you can stand it. lol The more you work with them the tamer they get. Around here you can cause a turkey charge by heading towards the pens with some collard leaves in your hand.

    Steve in NC
     
  8. pdpatch

    pdpatch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 5, 2008
    Hastings, Nebraska
    The main reason we put ours away at night is preditors. We have lots so we put ours in the coops at night and they have flyways and runs for during the day. Every couple of days we would let then out to free range for awhile, but that was only about 15 max.

    We have to go and herd them into the coops, because they won't go by then selves. Personally having to heard turkeys takes the fun out of being around them. But that was better for us then loosing one. Domastic Turkey's aren't like wild turkeys when it comes to preditors and you have to give the domestic ones some help, If preditors are a problem.

    Also we had a problem with the female red bourbon taking off on us, with her harem of guys in tow. It seem the are more of a forager so they wander further. As far as the Great whites and BB bronze they didn't go far, or even forage that much.

    Our coop are preditor proof but the runs and flyways aren't, Generaly we are out side during the day, and we have a large dog which keeps most away during the day.

    Tom
     
  9. doubleostud

    doubleostud Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 10, 2008
    Stillwater, Oklahoma
    I freerange all my turkeys. They have access to a coop, some of them use it at night, and I have 4 that roost about 20 feet up in a tree just outside the coop. Like everyone has stated, they will tame if worked with, I had a bb hen that was a lap turkey. She would forage with the other turkeys, however all of my other turkeys are heritage, so they tend to forage all day long. But all my turkeys will eat out of your hand. I would just recommend working with them that way if you need to pen them up you can. I feed mine scratch sometimes just to keep it were they will follow me when i need them too.
     
  10. freshegg

    freshegg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2008
    greenfield,ma
    if they are for meat bb is problely better and if you free range they problely will take longer to get big with all that exercise. maybe get a covered dog pen area for them.
     

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