want to find out about raising turkeys

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by MyBlackHen, Jul 23, 2010.

  1. MyBlackHen

    MyBlackHen Chillin' With My Peeps

    141
    0
    101
    Jun 26, 2010
    Upstate New York
    Hi, we just started with chickens this year and we are having a great time. We are thinking about getting turkeys next year. I can't seem to find a great resource for beginners. For chickens, I went to mypetchicken.com and downloaded their little booklet for getting started. Does anyone know of something similar for turkeys?

    Here are some questions that I have in particular:
    - sharing space with chickens (coop, roosts, feed)
    - how to keep feed separate if they share space (turkeys get a different feed than chickens I believe?)
    - brooder requirements (temperature, size, how long until they can handle outside temps, etc.)
    - how to integrate with older chickens
    - what kind of turkeys to get (right now we are interested in just meat, not breeding)

    I'm sure I'll have many more questions once I get the answers to these. If anyone could point me to a good resource for beginners, I would really appreciate it!
     
  2. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    This is the place, take some time are read thru the threads. Feeding, housing etc has all been covered.

    Steve
     
  3. thaiturkey

    thaiturkey Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,390
    34
    191
    Feb 22, 2010
    Thailand
    You will get different advice about keeping turkeys and chickens together. Some people do it as a matter of course, some don't and some have problems with Blackhead. Perhaps geographical location and climate has something to do with the different experiences. At this stage you might look for local turkey keepers and ask them for their opinion. In any case you might consider whether you can separate them on your land.

    My limited experience so far with turkeys suggests that it's a good idea to separate poults from older turkeys other than a hen that is caring for them. The others can be clumsy with their feet if not worse. Today our younger stags are displaying to each other and the hens and we are having to keep the two groups apart as the young poults forage with their hen. The show offs don't look where they tread when they get hyper.
     
  4. Lagerdogger

    Lagerdogger Chillin' With My Peeps

    921
    28
    141
    Jun 30, 2010
    Aitkin, MN
    Just to address some of your particular questions...

    Before I got turkeys, I bought a Storey's Guide. It has some good information, some confusing information, and some things that I might argue with the author over. It is definitely written for raising broad-breasted turkeys, not heritage strains. I also called a local commercial turkey farmer that we know. Of course, all his information is biased towards raising a few thousand BBW at a time. You can also look at http://www.porterturkeys.com/poultstartingtips.htm remembering that BB birds will require diet changes at about half the age of heritage birds.

    I keep mine seperate because I feared blackhead. I fenced off a good chunk of land to keep predators and chickens out and keep the turkeys in. Since then, I have learned that blackhead is pretty rare in this part of Minnesota, but I still use my fenced range for the turkeys (It was a lot of effort after all, and we do have the occassional bobcat and skunk).

    Left to their own, it seems that turkeys prefer to sleep outside. In fact, you will find several threads concerning people trying to find different ways to lure their turkeys back inside at night. Quite amusing [​IMG] I built a nice outside portable roost with room to shelter 20 to 30 adults. They sleep on the roof! They have the sense to go under the roof in daytime rain, but not at night.

    A good rule of thumb is 1 sq ft per turkey in the brooder. Adjust the heat and light based on the poults behavior, just like chickens. I used white lights, some prefer red lights. The turkeys seem to survive with either. At six weeks, they should be able to go outside. My brooder has an attached screen porch that I open up during the day at about three weeks, but I always chase them back inside until they are six weeks old. They would sleep outside from birth if you let them, I think. Start them just like you would a chicken...dip their bill in the water, and scatter a little food on some newspaper to help them start eating.

    Good luck getting them to eat their own food if they are living together. It seems like birds would rather have any feed except their own. My layers would rather eat meat maker or chick starter, and my young pullets would rather eat the layer mash [​IMG]

    If your focus is meat, get broad-breasted birds. They have more meat (duh) and they're ready in 8 to 16 weeks instead of 28-30 weeks.

    Have fun! Get some extras in case you have mortality, you can always sell some if you have too many. Its amazing how easy it is to sell a locally grown product.

    Turkeys are a lot of fun to keep. I'm sure you will enjoy them.
     
  5. PatS

    PatS Chillin' With My Peeps

    654
    1
    141
    Mar 28, 2009
    Northern Califonia
    It seems like birds would rather have any feed except their own.

    Ain't THAT the truth! I ended up putting the turkey food on the roof of a small structure, because the chicks and layers kept eating it. Course that doesn't mean the turkeys don't still sneak over to the chicken coop to eat the chick developer!​
     
  6. MyBlackHen

    MyBlackHen Chillin' With My Peeps

    141
    0
    101
    Jun 26, 2010
    Upstate New York
    Quote:Thanks ivan3, these will be great! I've already started reading the first link and there's quite a lot of information there.
     
  7. MyBlackHen

    MyBlackHen Chillin' With My Peeps

    141
    0
    101
    Jun 26, 2010
    Upstate New York
    Quote:I am definitely going to see if I can find some local folks who raise turkeys to find out if blackhead has been a problem around here. The only person that I know of so far who raises turkeys doesn't raise chickens too, so he hasn't had to worry about it.

    Your comment about separating poults from older birds would only apply to heritage birds, right? Broad-breasted birds would be harvested in the first year so they don't live long enough to become the "older" birds. I am considering getting just a couple of heritage birds, maybe a mating pair, and then a bunch of BB birds for meat.

    Thanks for the info!
     
  8. MyBlackHen

    MyBlackHen Chillin' With My Peeps

    141
    0
    101
    Jun 26, 2010
    Upstate New York
    Quote:Lagerdogger, thanks for all of the information. Here's a question about the difference between the Broad Breasted and Heritage breeds ... I have heard that the BB birds are not too bright and need more care due to a lack of "common sense"? For example, they need to be brought inside when it's raining because they could actually drown? Are these stories grossly exaggerated? I didn't realize that they would be ready so quickly - even if they do need more care, it seems pretty manageable if its only for a few months.

    Another question - the Heritage breeds prefer to sleep outside and like to roost very high up. Is this true for the BB birds too? I thought that the BB birds eventually get too big to roost and end up sleeping on the ground. And that can be true for large Heritage Toms also?

    As far as taste, some people say that the Heritage breeds taste better even though they take longer?

    I know these are pretty dumb questions, but I'm still learning chickens let alone turkeys! (And I'd really love to raise some pheasant too ...)

    Thanks!
     
  9. thaiturkey

    thaiturkey Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,390
    34
    191
    Feb 22, 2010
    Thailand
    Quote:I am definitely going to see if I can find some local folks who raise turkeys to find out if blackhead has been a problem around here. The only person that I know of so far who raises turkeys doesn't raise chickens too, so he hasn't had to worry about it.

    Your comment about separating poults from older birds would only apply to heritage birds, right? Broad-breasted birds would be harvested in the first year so they don't live long enough to become the "older" birds. I am considering getting just a couple of heritage birds, maybe a mating pair, and then a bunch of BB birds for meat.

    Thanks for the info!

    I have no experience with BB's and only some with any other kind of turkey, so far. I should have written 'bigger' rather than older. Our six month olds, looking more like bronzes than anything else, are clumsy around the babies and their weight could do serious damage. Also, I don't like the close stare with part open beak that they give to the babies when they get close. Sharing food and roosts is bound to lead to trouble, at least with our flock.

    Advice usually says that you need at least five hens to each stag. Some would say more. Some folk may not worry so long as they have one of each gender but I imagine that the inbreeding would soon show in later generations. We started with five poults that turned out to include three stags. Three mature hens and a stag joined them. It's still far from right. Now that the stags that grew with us from poults are maturing, they are more interested in sparring with one another than doing the deed with the hens.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by