What's your opinion?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Pampered Hen, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. Pampered Hen

    Pampered Hen Songster

    Feb 8, 2009
    This is my first time with turkeys. After a brooder disaster in which I lost 8 out of 10 Bourbon Red poults to cold exposure I have two left. Originally my plan was to grow them for meat, but of course I got attached to the survivors. Turns out I'm lucky and the two are a pair! So, my plans are to have those two breed next year and raise their offspring for meat (and possibly keep a daughter).
    Here are Franklin and Trudi at nearly 12 weeks (in the evenings he dances and strutts for her):
    I took the risk and when they were about 6 weeks I moved them in with my chickens. They are getting along well and nobody has become sick. They and the hens are feasting on 19% turkey grower feed. I'm not really sure if it may have an ill effect on the hens, but I figure I rather make sure the the youngsters are getting their nutrition. The whole flock gets to spend a good portion of the day on grass.
    Here is where I need your opinion:
    I have heard conflicting accounts on the breeding behavior of toms. Some say they won't overbreed their hens, some say they do and some say they might event try to breed with chickens (I guess those must be really desperate and might not have a turkey hen for lovin').
    For ease of management, I would like to keep these two with the hens over the winter, but really don't know what to expect in terms of the tom's behavior, also I'm not sure if this really is a good idea as it seems turkeys and chickens have different nutritional requirements.
    I would love to hear what you all think about this. I know there are people out there who keep turkeys and chickens together.

  2. joedie

    joedie Songster

    Mar 17, 2009
    SW Indiana
    Sorry, I can't help but I'm jealous! I want Bourbon Reds or Midget Whites really bad! Maybe next year. I can't believe how big the Tom is already! [​IMG]
  3. Lagerdogger

    Lagerdogger Songster

    Jun 30, 2010
    Aitkin, MN
    The following are only opinions, discussion by more knowledgeable people would be welcome.

    Most sources seem to recommend 22% protein for turkeys, and I think 16% for layers. Your feed is a compromise and may be close enough since they can feed supplementally, as long as their is a good source of protein for the turkeys. I have heard that too much protein actually lowers egg production in the chickens. I don't know for sure if this is true.

    I have also heard people complain that only having one hen is rough on the hen. I will be breeding one tom with one or two hens next spring, but I have the space to seperate them when they aren't breeding.
  4. We feed all our adult birds a 20% layer and haven't had any problems with it.

    With turkey mating it's hen choice, they don't breed like chickens at all. The hen will lay down for the tom of her choice when she is ready. Breeding problems come from having to many males and they will try to push the mating tom off the hen. Sometimes when our chickens are dustbathing the toms will strut around them but when ever they get to close the chickens just move away.

    Last edited: Jul 26, 2010
  5. Frosty

    Frosty Songster

    Mar 30, 2008
    I over wintered my turkeys with the chickens once... mostly because there is no electricity in the turkey house so I figured they could share the heated water rather than run an extension cord to the other building. All went well until spring, then I started finding dead chicken hens. Possibly the turkey tom squashed them? I don't know, but the hens quit dying when I moved the turkeys out. And turkey toms will mount anything that they can, even an over turned bucket [​IMG]
  6. boxermom

    boxermom Songster

    Feb 22, 2009
    My BR's live with my chickens too. I've had no problems. Last winter we had so much snow that they were cooped up in the barn from Nov. to March. They did just fine. I offer 20% game bird feed and also layer feed. They all eat whatever they want. This spring, one hen went broody, but has not been able to hatch any. They keep breaking. So, I placed my turkey eggs under broody chickens. I hatched 18! They are doing very well. It is so fun to see all the babies running around after they are released from their nursery box. My last batch has 2 weeks to go...
  7. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Pampered, thank you so much for posting this! I have a small flock of chickens, and I've been thinking about having a few turkeys too, but I've been afraid because of that "blackhead disease". Now I think I can do it. My coop has an 8x8 room and an 8x4 room, so I think I could have maybe two turkeys in the small room. Mostly my chickens free range, and just sleep in the coop at night......

    You were so lucky to get a male and female....they are beautiful too!


  8. kuntrygirl

    kuntrygirl Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

    Feb 20, 2008
    Opelousas, Louisiana
    First of all, great looking turkeys. I also have Bourbon Reds.

    My BR turkeys and chickens have been living together for about 7 years. I have no problems with fussing, fighting or diseases being transmitted. I integrated 1 tom and 2 hens with my flock of chickens and I have had anywhere from 50 - 150 chickens at one time. They have hatched out 17 baby turkeys and I have a hen that is setting on eggs as we speak. Because of nutritional differences, I always feed the baby turkeys in a different area so that they are able to get their 30% protein game birder starter/grower. When the turkey poults are about 6 weeks old, I introduce them to the chickens. There are no problems. I continue to feed the turkeys in different locations because the protein that they need is too high for my chickens, ducks and geese. When they are 5 months old and can eat the same feed (layer pellets/crumble-20% protein), they all eat from the same feeders. My tom is very tame and he protects the entire flock (both turkeys and chickens). Every night he changes roosting areas, as he sleeps at a different door of the different chicken coop/houses entries. He stands guard EVERY night.

    It is very important that turkey poults get 24 - 30% protein as they are growing. When they reach 5 months, they can then have 20% protein. The growing months are the most important.

    I think it is a great idea for you to have both turkeys and chickens together. I have had no problems in 7 years. You will enjoy seeing all of them playing, walking, running and eating together. Keep us posted and let us know how it turns out. I have posted a few pics of my tom, a hen and my 2 month old turkeys.

    Last edited: Jul 26, 2010
  9. Bantam Bodon

    Bantam Bodon Songster

    Apr 12, 2009
    Osceola Mills PA
    My turkeys thought they were bantam chickens and had to be part of my small group of 5. They didnt really follow the other chickens around, just the bantams! They all got along though just fine. Free ranging them probably helped though but at night they would also try to roost with them. I also know how it is to get attached to meat birds, my dad has been eyeing up my two toms but i told him the only solution is to get two females. (they were supposed to be a pair but turned out to be two males)
  10. Pampered Hen

    Pampered Hen Songster

    Feb 8, 2009
    Thank you all for your helpful responses!
    It sounds that the turkey grower ration of 19% is on the low end of what my two BRs might need for good development? They do seem healthy… But I would try to up the protein if you all think I should do that. I’m getting my feed from a local manufacturer and would like to keep it organic. Should I look for some cracked soy to boost the level?

    I do feel more confident to keep the turkeys with my small flock of hens throughout the winter. Eventually, I would like to ad a second hen, but will wait until we have one successful hatch. I understand that breeding daughters to fathers is commonly practiced in poultry breeding and might just go that route as I’m generally hesitant in introducing new birds to my flock other that day-olds from disease-free hatcheries. On the other hand, I feel so tempted to ad a second breed/variety to the flock like Narragansett, bronze, calico…

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