What do you want in a breeding Tom?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Kelsey2017, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. Kelsey2017

    Kelsey2017 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2011
    Two Harbors, MN
    This year we got started in turkeys. I wanted Bourbon Reds after doing research and found some local almost year old turkeys. The man had no purebred hens, only half BR half BS but that was close enough to start and he did have a nice BR tom. I brought them home and was hooked. Well I should have bought 2 Toms because we lost him to an infection I didn't catch (an injury under his wing that abscessed and went into his lung). So anyway I went and bought 6 BR poults at the end of April. I ended up with only one hen (bummer, since I want poults) But I now have 5 Toms. I don't know who to choose as our breeders. All seem to have friendly personalities, nice coloring. As a first time turkey owner who wants to set up a basic breeding group to keep us in the meat, I don't know what I should look for. I am not really looking to show them or sell poults too much, but I still believe I should follow basic guidelines and strive to produce quality birds. For the moment I have chosen the most social two toms. One is more submissive than the other and I hoped that would keep tension low but not leave me without a tom if something should happen. The others I want to pen up and feed up for dinner this fall. What do you look for in a MAN?
  2. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2011
    I'm interested to hear what other folks have to say as well.
    I think you've started with some right criteria, a tom and a spare, and the fact that they get along now is a good sign (although it may not hold).

    If you're raising for meat, I think I'd also be looking at speed of weight gain, overall size/weight and good muscling, as well as generally good health and sound leg construction. probably too early to know, but breeding energy and effectiveness is important too.

    eager to hear what others think...
  3. rfwombat

    rfwombat Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 3, 2009
    Humboldt County
    Just my opinion, but I look for personality first, virility second and conformation third. We have a small space and the chickens, ducks and turkeys need to all share. Also, I find that it's much easier to move the birds and treat injuries and manage their housing if they are easy with being handled.

    We ordered a breeder's choice group from Porter's 2 years ago because we had very little idea what we wanted beyond "not broad breasted". Out of that group we had 5 toms of 3 different breeds, Narragansett, Fall Fire, Sweetgrass. We originally decided to keep 2 toms, the Narragansett and one of the Sweetgrass. They were the 2 largest of the 5 and both were comfortable being picked up and handled. Also, they didn't fight with each other or our other birds. Both were gentle with the hens and were practicing mating and mounting (the Narragansett would mount anything left on the ground [​IMG] ). The other 3 toms didn't show any interest in mounting the hens or anything else. They didn't seem to have the "breeding instinct".

    We then decided to only keep the Narragansett for breeding since the two toms were trying to mount the same hens at the same time. We didn't want the hens injured and didn't have the pens then to separate the toms so we just kept the Narragansett. His tendency to mount anything including the hens made us confident that he would prove fertile and we wouldn't need a back up tom.

    Now this year we have more room, our original breeding tom and 3 jakes. 2 of the jakes have started exhibiting breeding behavior, one has not (they are all the same age). But one of the jakes that is trying to breed, is also very agressive and has attacked the other and drawn blood. He also doesn't like to be held or moved. So while he has the mating instinct and great growth rate and size, he will go to freezer camp.

    The second jake that is displaying is too small to keep for breeding so he will go to freezer camp as well.

    The third jake that is not displaying, doesn't seem to have any breeding instinct. He doesn't fight, but he also doesn't display or try to mount anything. He is the sweetest of the 3 and doesn't mind being picked up and moved. So while he has wonderful size, temperament and coloring, he may end up in freezer camp as well. We will give him a few extra months after the other two are processed to see if he is just slower to come into breeding.

    So we may end up with just our original tom and see what we get from next year's poults. I would be worried if our breeding tom was slowing down, but he continues to mount the hens and anything on the ground so his longevity seems to be good.

    So I guess my point in this long explanation is that you should watch how your birds interact with you and the other birds and pick the tom that will be a gentle but effective breeder. Most importantly, you need to wait to choose your tom until they come into their breeding instincts. Until that time, you won't know who is a fighter and who is a lover. [​IMG] Then once you have a pool of good tempered toms to choose from, you can choose for coloring, growth rate, overall size, etc.

    And any potential toms must show an interest in breeding. We have a friend who spend $150 on a beautiful pair of Buff Orpington chickens at a recent show. But the rooster doesn't know how to mount the hen, and has no mating instinct at all. He hasn't gotten a single fertile egg from him and is having to research AI. So you can have the most beautiful tom on the planet, but if he won't breed, he will only be a feed bill and won't do you any good.

    Of course if you have the time and the space, you can choose just for size and color and not worry about temperament. You can keep each tom in a separate pen and introduce the hens to them as needed to get fertile eggs and not have to worry about your toms fighting. But I also think it's important to breed for temperament and well as conformation so I keep all my birds together and only keep the gentle ones.
  4. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:Pretty much the same here.. personality is first.. I dont have the patience to deal with evil birds.. then overall health is second.. cause no matter how big a bird is.. if he's sickly he will pass that on to his offspring
    then we look for size, meatiness and the ones who had the best growth rate..

    I also got poults from porters this summer.. then hatched out some shipped eggs from a few different sellers.. now we will pick from all of those for our breeding stock.. i also ordered from Porters for next spring and we will keep the best of those birds
    that should leave us with some birds for the freezer plus a nice selection for breeders so we can hatch out more eggs for freezer birds
  5. Kelsey2017

    Kelsey2017 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2011
    Two Harbors, MN
    I had been letting all of my Turkeys run the yard and was watching them. All of them displayed and a few (is was so hard to tell them apart) would flirt and dance around our younger hen. She would squat usually but I never saw any actual mating. I just assumed they were too young to really know what to do. The boys never did flirt with the older hens but they were just getting to know them due to the fact that the hens had (unsuccessfully [​IMG] ) been trying to brood eggs. Does anyone think that the toms will favor the BR hen and possibly over breed her? The BR toms and hen are just now over 4.5 months old. What other signs of breeding are there, other than what I have observed?

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