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Country Discussion Topics
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Raising Turkeys (Help Please)
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MichelleH    Posted 06-17-2003 at 09:04:18       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hello All. It seems I have a new animal to go gray over! LOL My husband informed me last night that he intends to raise some turkeys for our consumption. Only problem is I don't know how to raise them and I know just who is going to be feeding, cleaning pens, etc.

I have looked at every turkey website I could find, but there are a couple of questions I am still not sure of. Anyone know how much square footage a turkey would need in housing? How about a turkey run, much like a chicken run??

I feel so clueless at this! I sure hope you guys can help.

Thanks,
Michelle H



Jazmine Rodarte    Posted 11-13-2003 at 20:46:28       [Reply]  [No Email]
What color is the turkeys featherless neck? Does it stay the same color all year long?


MichelleH    Posted 06-18-2003 at 08:13:00       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Thank you all for your abundant information! It was a pleasure reading and you guys gave me alot to go on.

I am glad I am not the only one that makes pets out of these critters! The few chickens I started with, they were originally the breeding stock for my "table" chickens. Well, I'm up to 30+ chickens now and not one has made it to the table!! Suppose one of these days I am going to need to suck in those tears and do the deed.

Take care all,
Michelle H.


cowgirlj    Posted 06-18-2003 at 14:39:10       [Reply]  [Send Email]
It might help if you go away for a couple of hours, and have the dead done while you are gone. I don't think I will have the heart either when the time comes.


cowgirlj    Posted 06-18-2003 at 08:00:07       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Tom has given you some good info.
My hubby and I are first time Turkey raising too. We had ten Bronzes, but are down to seven - our stud colt thought they were new toys for him to toss around. Our Turkey pen is about 10 x 10 with an outer stall about the same size, where they have a hole in the barn wall to come and go as they please. They free range during the day, and go back to the barn at night on thier own. One of our hens is really small and has gibbled legs, they kind of splay outwards, but it doesn't seem to bother her. She is the tamest and loves to be petted, and will sometimes follow me around the farm. One thing for sure.....they do go through alot of feed. We started ours on regular chick starter with our chickens and now have them on layer pellets. We don't bother with "Turkey" specific feed. They eat bugs during the day, and we toss them left over vegetables now and again. All of our turkeys are way tamer than our chickens. They were all hand reared as chicks, I had them in bins in a spare bedroom until they were fully feathered, then moved them out to the barn. I think you will find them quite enjoyable to raise. I know a few people that have raised turkeys every year, and they usually wind up with a couple of family pets.


counrygurl    Posted 06-17-2003 at 20:49:47       [Reply]  [Send Email]
hello,
i am no expert on turkeys but will share my experience, if you are raising from babies
they need to be in a pen off the ground, dont know why but have yet to loose one, (we hatch
our eggs from our hen) for the 2 weeks or so i add terrimycin to the water and free choice on turkey/game starter. we just let out
8 young turkeys to free range with the other 4
grown turkeys, now they are eating chop corn old bread and what ever they can scratch up. they hang out by the chicken coup (my 19rhode island red laying hens & 2 roosters)and 30 or so free range (growing) rhode island red chickens and some others. everybody gets along except for a young bante rooster who like to ride on the toms back ( i think the bante thinks he a turkey but he wont admit it. the turkey roost in the trees at night. good luck we orginally got 3 toms and 1 hen to grow out and slaught 2 of the toms for last thanksgiving & christmas, needless to say the are still here. lol


cowgirlj    Posted 06-18-2003 at 08:06:51       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hey countrygurl:
How's things? I have a question for you regarding chickens. We have four different breeds; Speckled Sussex, Black Australorps, Partridge Rocks, and Silver Laced Wyandottes. We ordered all hens, but it has turned out we have two roosters; one Black Australorp, and a Speckled Sussex. If we want to try for chicks, do we have to separate the different breeds? Or will the roosters only mate with thier own breed?


countrygurl    Posted 06-18-2003 at 11:04:30       [Reply]  [Send Email]
i keep all my breeding hen & roosters seperate so my offspring are of pure breed. i raise rhode island reds, silkies, barred rock, dominques,game bante & full size game chickens i sell the chicks and this is why i seperate everybody so my chicks are pure bllod. i dou let growing chickens of differant breds free range til mature


MichelleH    Posted 06-18-2003 at 08:28:16       [Reply]  [Send Email]
cowgirlj,

This one I do know. Roosters will mate with the hens. Any breed...matter of fact, my RIR rooster goes over to my neighbors and terrorizes his duck and guineas. Don't know if I should be proud or ashamed of my poor little RIR rooster! For now, he goes in "time out" when he leaves his girls. Don't know if it is helping or not, but he doesn't visit very often...at least not as much as he used to.

Take care,
Michelle H.


cowgirlj    Posted 06-18-2003 at 14:36:58       [Reply]  [Send Email]
LOL, sorry Michelle, I had to laugh at that one! Busy little bugger, wasn't he?


Tom A    Posted 06-17-2003 at 09:33:48       [Reply]  [No Email]
Michelle:

We've just finished our first year with Turkeys, we got a tom and 2 hens last year and raised them as breeding stock. So I'm certainly no expert, but can tell you what we've learned. There's a book in the Storey livestock series on raising Turkeys that is pretty good with info about feed, housing and such would probably be worth your time reading through.

First off, these things grow really big and eat lots! Our 3 turkeys eat as much as our flock of about 35 chickens did altogether last year. In other words, we doubled our poultry feed bill by ading 3 birds.

Second: there's a lot of difference in breeds. We have Bourbon Reds, an old farm breed that grows slower than modern breeds but also are much smarter and gentler. Our birds will come up to you and follow you around like a dog, and you can even carry them if need be (our hens got broody on us before we were ready, so I carried them home to the chicken coop every night for about a month.) Some other breeds are less gentle (some toms can be aggressive, like geese), although most grow to table-size faster. The new breeds grow really fast but have virtually no survival skills at all.

We free range our turkeys, and they pretty much stay with the chicken flock. They range over an area about 2 or 300x300 feet normally without fencing. The tom sort of thinks he is responsible for all their well-being, and herds them all in to the coop each night. The chickens did this anyway before we had him, but he thinks they need his guidance. During the spring and summer they find a fair amount of their own food so the cost of feeding them goes down some; if you don't free range, you'll have to supply all that feed; for our birds that is about a 50lb sack of feed every 2 weeks or so plus a 50 lb sack of scratch about once a month.

well, that's about all I can think of off the top of my head. Good luck, if I can help answer other questions just ask and I'll see if I can remember.

Tom


MichelleH    Posted 06-17-2003 at 10:52:37       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Thank you Tom for the information! Boy, have you given me things to think about! LOL

I appreciate your input. I'll definitely look into getting a hand on that book.

Do your turkeys come in at night to roost? How much room do they need for housing? Originally, when faced with this prospect of raising turkeys, I had thought I could have a couple of hens and a tom for breeding...and incubate a few eggs for the table.

I just hope the turkeys don't "double" like my chickens did. I started with 12 chickens and now have 30!! LOL

Well, take care and thanks again.
Michelle H


Stretch    Posted 06-17-2003 at 11:29:13       [Reply]  [No Email]
Not a turkey expert either, but we've raised a few. Got a Royal Palm tom and a Bourbon Red hen. Double? Shoot, ain't nothing for her to raise a dozen each time she sets. And they seem to be a hybrid that reverts back to a bronze look-alike. And they offspring grow fast and get bigger than either parent. Can't keep any of the jakes because they beat up on ol' dad. We let ours free-range over the whole 5 acres, and they kind of stay with the chickens. Roost together on the horse stalls. Yep, the tom is the boss of 'em all.

I've heard of disease problems associated with mixing chicikens with turkeys-blackhead I believe-but never had any problem. Keeping them confined would probably cause it to be more of a problem.

Tom A. gave you a lot of good stuff. Remember if you let the hen set it takes 28 days for the eggs to hatch. And if you eat the eggs-we do-the shells are a lot harder. Either way, I think you'll enjoy watching your tom court your hens and listen to him talk.


glad to help    Posted 06-17-2003 at 11:28:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
Except when they are brooding eggs the turkeys come into the chicken coop every night and sleep with the chickens. And our hen is laying a new clutch of eggs in the coop now, too, so hopefully she'll just stay in there where it is safe.

Our coop is divided in two, and the part they're all living in now is perhaps 20x25. In that space right now we have 2 grown turkeys and 40 grown chickens, but as I said they free range over about 2 acres during the day, otherwise that space would be way too small.

I'm afraid we're going to be the same way you mentioned. When we first got the turkeys they were going to be breeding stock, and the offspring were going in the freezer. But now the babies "are just sooo cute..." (my wife's words, not mine) so I don't know what will happen. :-)

tom a


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