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Young turkey poults fighting -- will they hurt each other?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by chickenannie, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My 6-9 week old RB turkey poults have started fighting with each other occassionally. They try to bite each others necks and sometimes pin each other to the ground. This morning, two were taking turns sitting on each other's heads! Once blood was drawn. I want them to survive until Thanksgiving, and am worried that they're going to hurt each other seriously. I have 20 that currently free-range or live in large pens, and I can't possibly build separate pens for each and every one. Even the free-range ones are fighting.

    Are they just play-fighting? How do I prevent this? Or should I just not worry about it? Help!
     
  2. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    anyone?
     
  3. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    It sounds to me like play fighting and arranging their pecking order, but even play fights can become aggressive so keep an eye on them. If it becomes too aggressive you may want to seperate the less dominate ones and put them together.[​IMG]
     
  4. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Would you put the aggressive ones together too? Or must they be in individual pens? They are so socially oriented, I hate to think how unhappy they'd be in pens alone...
     
  5. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    Hi, again. Yes, they'll spar, and will draw blood. If one in particular is being ganged up on by the rest, he needs to be seperated ASAP. Ours didn't seriously pursue the chest bumping, neck wrapping snood pulling, leap/slash, etc. until they were about 18wk. old. Yes, their heads and necks would sometimes appear to have been abraded on asphalt, but no eyes were lost, no breasts slashed open, only the loser standing with snood dragging the ground, but already plotting an overthrow of the chuffing, strutting, victor...

    We've had very good luck with pine tar when they go overboard (wouldn't use it until they are older). As has been mentioned once the order is worked out you'll probably have a few weeks of calm before the next dust up. But, at nine weeks, they're feeling their cheerios and practice sparring makes perfect.

    They have tough, fast healing skin on their heads. Don't bother with the pine tar until they are at least 18wk. and the sparring is protracted (fighting in the middle of the night) and bloody. You could, if you have one, try introducing a tom in with the boys and that might take care of the alpha (or else!), summer afternoon trilling, panting and drooling knock down drag-outs (wouldn't quit, but less intense).

    Keep plenty of rubber feed pans filled with fresh water (the heat stress can be worse than the abrasions from sparring).
    Just soak and wring out clean washcloth with betadine tea to daub any scrapes. If worse (torn caruncle, for instance) clean and apply plain antibiotic ointment.

    They will be kept together and completely seperated from jennys and hens, yes? (nothing but serious interference with goal of putting on wt. for TD.).
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2008
  6. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ivan, thank you so much for your info. Sounds like you've experienced this yourself! I haven't noticed them ganging up on any one in particular (yet). I keep 3 groups in 3 pens with their mommas, although I let 2 of the groups out to free-range together daily. What do you do with the pine tar? is it a deterrent? or a treatment for wounds?

    Based on what you said I take it this is mostly play fighting at the moment. I haven't seen any serious injuries, but will keep a lookout and treat any injuries as you've mentioned.

    Are you saying that they will fight less if there are no females with them? How far apart would they need to be from the girls? Can I have 2 pens next to each other, or would the girls need to be far enough away so they can't hear them or see them? (might be difficult to put them out of hearing range, although I could hang a tarp so they at least can't see the girls in the next pen).

    I'm a bit nervous about putting the tom in with them cause he's about 10 times their size and I fear he would kill them.

    I plan to separate them from their mommas in about 2-3 weeks, though the mommas seem to be upset when they are separated, so I don't know if that's going to work!

    Yesterday their play fighting was rather humorous -- I thought one was dead cause he was laying on the ground, but they were literally taking turns to sit on each other. It was so fast, it looked like a weird turkey dance. Ok, you lay down, and I'LL sit on YOUR head. Ok, now I'LL get down and YOU sit on MY head. Over and over again. Just like a bunch of goofy teenagers!
     

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