Turkey's heads... what color should they be?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by zzGypsy, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    hi there,
    new here, and new to turkeys. please forgive if this is a silly question.

    a couple of weeks ago I bought a tom (3/4 bronze) and 4 hens (1 chocolate, 1 palm, and two bronze crosses), all adults, all 1-2 years old. purchased from 3 different sellers)
    I've also got chickens, ducks, geese, guineas. the whole lot of them are freerange during the day, penned at night.
    I know at least the tom and one of the hens were running with chickens before I bought them, all appear alert, healthy, in good feather, active.
    One of them had several days of chocolate brown diareah, although it appears to be clearing up (at least I've seen no more of it in the pen).

    anyway, I came out here to read up on what might be the problem and learned a bunch about blackhead, and not running chickens and turkeys together, and how "blackhead" really means their heads turn blue, not black, and now I'm confused...

    what color *are* their heads supposed to be?

    my tom in particular, and the hens to a lesser degree, have bluish skin where the skin is flat, and bright red/pink where it's bumpy. the tom's head is distinctly blue and almost irridescent in certain light, with very deep pink for the bumpy parts and wattles (what do you call those in turkeys?). with all the reading I did, I got a little worried that they might be ill and just not showing all the symptoms yet...

    so, is that bluish skin normal? or might they have the early signs of blackhead? they seem healty, alert active, and except for the one that had diareah, the poop looks mostly formed, or sometimes formed with a bit of wet around it.

    thanks for teaching a beginner,
    zzGypsy
    eta: I'm in SW Missouri
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  2. Breac

    Breac Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi there! It's not a silly question at all.

    Many turkeys, especially the toms, will have a light-blue tint to their faces. This is normal facial coloration and is used by the toms (and hens, to a lesser extent) to attract a mate and show to other turkeys how fit and dominant they are. To a small degree, turkeys can change the color of their faces, becoming more flushed if they get excited.

    As far as the diarrhea is concerned, turkeys have a normal bowel function known as Cecal Discharge. This is basically dark, smelly and runny poop that is made when a turkey routinely empties the cecum (a part of the intestinal tract). This is normal, and they do it quite often. For a lack of a better description, it looks like tar poop.

    I think as long as all the birds are acting healthy, alert, and are lesion-free, they should be fine.
     
  3. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the reply, that's helpful info and reassuring. they're beautiful birds and I'm getting quite a kick out of listening to them ... I guess it's peep?... they sound like pulling a cork out of a wine bottle! I love it that when I call them, they all talk back to me at once.
    I appreciate you taking time to help out the new girl [​IMG]
     
  4. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    That's pretty normal coloration on the neck and head for a turkey. The toms especially have this coloring, more deeper than the hens. I also raise my turkeys with chickens, around my neck of the woods, blackhead hasn't been an issue. A breeder actually recommended I raise them with chicks when they were babies.
     
  5. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Blackhead seems to be a problem in some areas, but not everywhere. I have never had problems with it. I have no idea of why they call Histomoniasis 'blackhead' because their heads don't turn black. Sometimes the symptoms are ruffled feathers, not eating, and sulphur yellow poop. The yellow poop is indicative that something is affecting the liver, it could be blackhead or it could be something else.

    I was concerned a long time ago when I saw my first cecal discharge and wrote to a turkey group that I belong to. They called it a 'cecal dump', same thing. Those poops just don't look right and I can see why you would tend to worry. As Breac said, it is completely normal, so as long as they are eating, drinking, and look healthy, I wouldn't worry.
     
  6. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    yay! I have healthy turkeys!

    I have to say I'm rather fond of them already, didn't really expect that. fortunately I have until *next* year to get my head around the idea of home grown turkey dinner... that was the original plan anyway.

    how are turkey eggs? I won't get any this year, but next spring, there should be more than I need for hatching.
     
  7. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A lot of folks love the eggs, DH isn't that fond of them.

    Ummm... how to words this... I take it nobody warned you that turkeys are addictive? Oops... They can have really endearing personalities.

    I always laugh when I am out weeding the garden and hear a noise behind me. Turn around to see a bunch of turkeys talking amongst each other as they watch me, brobably wondering why I am pulling up food and just tossing it in a pile.
     
  8. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I'm interested to try them. I'm a HUGE fan of duck eggs, so they'll have to be some kind of awsome to best that, but then, I've never had a turkey egg.

    yep, no-one warned me on the addiction factor. my take on turkeys was my mom's stories of the turkey farm near her home when she was a child... went out of business because 1) the turkeys wouldn't come in when it rained and DROWNED on their feet from standing in the downpour, and 2) the ones that didn't drown would stampede when the train went by and pile up against the fence, crushing the ones on the bottom. D'OH! [​IMG]
    I grew up thinking turkeys were STUpid.

    instead I'm discovering they're engaging and goofy.
    <sigh>
    I'm a sucker for goofy.

    I think my tom may be moulting, I'm finding wing feathers and I think they're his. beautiful irridescent feathers they are too... If I keep collecting them, pretty soon I'll have enough for a whole nother turkey![​IMG]
     
  9. Breac

    Breac Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Turkeys are surprisingly endearing birds. I still have my two original hens I got in '08!

    Turkey eggs are a lot larger than a chicken egg, and the shell is pretty darn strong as well. It'll take a few whacks on the bowl to crack 'em. They taste very similar to chicken eggs, but slightly saltier. If I remember correctly, I believe they have more protein in them as well. It takes roughly one year for them to start laying. Turkeys are seasonal layers as well, so you won't get eggs in the dead of winter. They tend to lay only in spring and summer.
     
  10. Frosty

    Frosty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do want to say that turkeys do NOT look up and drown in the rain. If they were young they probably got wet and chilled. Folks say that they look up to see what the rain is and drown. When you think about it, birds eyes are on the sides of their heads so when they do 'look up' (like if a hawk is flying over), they turn their head sideways so that one eye is facing up. Turkeys can smother each other if they pile up. I am fortunate that noises don't seem to bother my turkeys because we sometimes have low flying aircraft as well as living a quarter of a mile from train tracks. I have to keep stopping my riding mower in the yard and have to get off to shoo the turkeys out of the way if they are near. They aren't really that 'stupid', but their curiosity can get them killed.
     

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