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Turkeys with Chickens?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by alaskanchickens, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. alaskanchickens

    alaskanchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I ordered my first turkeys. They are broad breasted whites for meat. I was planning on letting them just run around lose once they were big enough but then I started thinking, I have kids as young as 4 and I don't want 15 (minimum order because of shipping to Alaska) 30 lb turkeys chasing me and my kids down! I know turkeys can be mean. What I'm wondering is if turkeys can be housed with meat chickens if the space is big enough? I know chickens can give turkeys certain diseases. If not meat or laying hens, ducks? Or should I just try to keep them on their own away from all other poultry?
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I have never heard that turkeys are mean! My whole flock - chickens, turkeys and ducks - are housed together and free-range together. My turkeys are gentle giants, loaded with personality. They are super curious so will peck at anything to see what it is - especially shiny things. I lost an earring to a turkey who saw the shiny thing dangling from my ear and couldn't resist pecking at it. But she wasn't trying to hurt me and when the earring came out in her beak she stood there looking chagrined, until I took it away from her.

    You are correct about disease. Blackhead is something that is present in many flocks but turkeys are far more susceptible to it than chickens, so while a chicken might be a carrier, it will be the turkey who gets sick. However as I understand it, blackhead is either present in your area or its not, and if you don't have it, it won't be a problem. I've had mine all together going on two years now and have not had an issue with it.

    I did recently learn though, that turkeys are more susceptible to some types of worms than other poultry - particularly capillary worms. It doesn't hurt to worm a little more often in order to keep the turkeys healthy.
     
  3. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    I wouldn't allow a 4 yr. old around a bantam chicken hen, unsupervised (eye surgery is expensive). Experience, here, is much like that of HEChicken, the greatest danger is the turkey's curiosity, not aggressiveness. As these are BB's, once they get past the gangly stage they'll be focused on eating more than anything else. They will be `out' in a fenced area, yes? They are easy meat for any pred (heritage varieties can both run & fly - BB's? Not so much).

    Turkeys are not stupid, if one is intimidated by them, they'll pick up on that as well. But focused aggression, if one isn't signaling an invite by `running away'? The occasional tom gone `blood simple' isn't unknown, but these are `gibleted' out of the `gravy' of the gene pool on a pretty consistent basis...

    If you have a large enough area to keep them with the meat chickens, that is doable - poop removal wiill increase accordingly - the turks will need clean bedding once they start putting on wt. as they'll spend more time lying down (BB's are prone to breast blisters - good, clean bedding will prevent this and any potential secondary infections).
     
  4. alaskanchickens

    alaskanchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So it sounds like BB's are the Cornish x of the turkey world? I knew they grew a little quicker than heritage breeds but they were the only white turkeys I could order from the hatchery and didn't it didn't say anything about that. No matter, they will be fed well and put on the weight needed by late fall. My kids are never in the run our coop alone, me or my husband are always with them. My 4 year olds chicken is our rooster! He follows her around like a puppy, lays down when she puts her hand on him and allows her to pick him up and carry him around like a baby! But I was thinking if I had the turkeys with the meat birds, then I wouldn't have to worry about any of the kids. My husband and I are the only ones that go in with them.
     
  5. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    Yes, they've been bred for doom & dinner. They are also, in our experience, the most social/easy going of the varieties we've hosted. Pretty much the only reason they'll be chasing you is if you have food (ours made me think that the wife and I were the Walrus & The Carpenter and the BBB was one of the oysters - will never own a BB again).

    However, it is hard to argue against the feed conversion... (they'll get big FAST).
     
  6. alaskanchickens

    alaskanchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Can I ask why you choose to not raise them again? I got them because they were white, no nasty looking black pin feathers to look at. But they weren't really what I wanted. I feed my chickens a homemade mix of FF and will be doing the same for the turkeys and CX as to cut back on feed costs and over eating, try to slow their growth slightly and have healthier birds.
     
  7. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    We were only going to get chickens but, in the sea of chicks there were three BBB poults huddled together. Unlike the chicks, all three turkey poults followed me with their eyes - heads turning as I moved from one location to another around the heat lamped flats. Knew nothing about them other than that (too curious for my own good - kinda like the turks - we bought those three along with the chicks). During the following 4.5 months I was brought up to speed (treating spraddle leg - BB's are also prone to this - or straight up tibial dyschondroplasia). Lost two to Spraddle leg. `Cured' the third and had already restricted diet. Then he flew off the back deck and the structural deficiency of the undercarriage was revealed to the full extent. Had to put him down.

    However, from that `need to imprint' (why the poults gave me the steady gaze) and, in general, interesting ethology (primarily the social behavior) encouraged our obtaining heritage poults

    Could it be that the selective breeding (extreme domestication) that can result in some BB lines exhibiting 30% smaller brain volume than heritage turks, leaves them way too friendly? Probably. Too much like killing and eating a pet dog.

    Had we been getting BB's for meat, I'd have kept my distance.

    ed:sp
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  8. alaskanchickens

    alaskanchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's good to know! Thank you! I'm assuming they are more prone because of how fast they grow? How would I "cure" it since it looks like I will most likely be dealing with it? Ours will be in the "meat shack" as my husband calls it with a run. We try to keep human contact with our meaties at a minimum so we (I) don't get attached and not want to process them when the time comes. And like I said before, the kids don't go in there so hopefully we'll be ok.
     
  9. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    Yeah, their growth rate is such that they `outgrow' themselves. Again, some lines are more prone to this than others. There is no actual `cure' for spradle leg in BB's - there is only splinting and diet restriction and luck. Main things to remember: Don't let them get chilled/don't put them on a slippery surface in brooder.

    Read through this thread for more info.: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...-turkeys-what-do-i-need-to-know#post_11309891

    Good luck!
     
  10. Twinkkitten

    Twinkkitten Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My female turkey and 3 chickens are all almost a year. They get along well. They bicker sometimes but not badly.The turkey is not as smart as the chickens. She is barely smarter that a potato.
     

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