Winter and Turkeys

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by jim c, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. jim c

    jim c Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 6, 2013
    I'm new to this site and have been reading a lot of the post, one thing I've noticed is the lack of self education on having turkeys.
    One thing to remember is a turkey is not a chicken.
    If you are thinking of or have just started raising turkeys, please take the time to get educated on them.
    This part is for Heritage Turkeys.
    As winter is here in many parts of the country the worry of "how will my turkeys do in the winter?"
    Heritage turkeys are very tough birds, they are the same as wild turkeys with one exception and that is they depend on you for some of their needs.
    They can stay outside in all kinds of weather (rain doesn't bother them) but when it comes to winter weather one of the depends on you things is shelter. Wild turkeys range far and know how to find sheltered places to roost even in the coldest of weather. If you have a coop for your turkeys the key to remember is that with a wind chill it will be colder than the thermostat is reading.
    Heritage turkeys like to be outdoors its their nature to be, an ideal coop is one with at least one side that is not closed but has wire.
    My coop is 8x8 and half is enclosed with wood the other with wire. It is placed so that they have shelter from the wind but still have the feeling of being outside.
    My normal wind direction in the winter (east wind) is different from summer (west wind). Because of this I have put clear plastic sheeting (6mil) around the part that is wire to keep the winds from directly blowing on the turkeys. A added bonus is it does have a greenhouse effect on sunny days.
    That takes care of coop needs for winter on to feed. As most know feed is what keeps your fowl warm in winter. In addition to the regular feed (organic with no GMO corn or soy, locally sourced) I place some half cut alfalfa (more leaves per bale) in the coop for the turkeys to scratch through and keep busy, and I give them some whole grain (whole red wheat) soaked in water to soften the grains.
    The reason for whole grains is two fold, it has more protein to help provide fuel to keep warm and it takes longer to digest to keep the fuel burning longer, I place the grain in the coop about 2 hrs before roost time, any left over will get eaten in the morning providing a boost to morning energy.
    If you plan on keeping your turkeys in a coop for the winter as I do it is important to remember to keep the ground dry as possible, turkeys need to keep their feet dry to remain healthy, just as with chickens placing some clean straw in the coop will help keep it dry and make a great compost addition in the spring. As to how often you need to change it depends on how dirty it gets. It will help break down and contain the droppings, and it provides the turkeys with something to scratch through.
    On sunny days I try to let the birds out of the coop to stretch their wings and forage for a bit of extra food. I stay with mine so I have to bundle up myself but it helps to keep an eye on them. they will follow me when I call to them. Watch for signs of legs shivering if the wind is blowing its a good indicator to how warm they are. To herd them back into the coop just walk behind them slowly and use your arms held out to guide them, (they do this herding much better than chickens). I have a large door (3x3 sf) to make it easier to get them back in the coop.
    I hope this helps a lot of you that are new to raising turkeys and remember to surf the net for other sites that are dedicated to turkeys,
    I spent a couple of months doing this to learn about turkeys and make my venture more able to succeed rather than the try and see what happens approach.
    While I am raising my turkeys to provide more turkeys for the freezer, I have become attached to my breeding pair,(the wife says I spoil them endlessly) and enjoy being around them.
    Jim C
  2. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    ADVANCED SEARCH function is very good for querying the Turkey Collective. Here is the FAQ on use: (just remember to use the search button at the BOTTOM of the page after you've declared parameters in search fields). We are blessed with some pretty erudite meleagris mavens who could probably give Schorger a `trot' for his `gobble'. Some are interested in the `eating', primarily; others, are focused on the ethology: [​IMG] We've had good luck with Purina Game bird feed for the past 8.5yrs. However, they aren't deprived of foraging opportunities to track down additional protein: [​IMG]
    Yeah, welcome to the flock: [​IMG]
  3. retlaw

    retlaw Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 2, 2013
    Great turkey photos.

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