Most of the time you hear about people raising chickens, and for good reason.
Chickens are a great source of eggs if you like to eat those.
Turkeys can be a source of eggs too, but most people raise turkeys for their meat.
Tips for raising turkeys for meat include making sure to keep the poults plenty warm while they are growing, keeping your turkeys separate from your chickens, providing enough feed and water for your turkeys, making sure to clip your turkey’s wings, selecting the right kind of breed for what you want, and having plenty of room for your turkeys.
Read on to learn some facts about turkeys.
There are many different reasons to decide to raise turkeys on your farm or homestead.
The first of these reasons is the obvious of turkeys being a delicious option have around.
Most, though not all, people love to have turkey a few times a year because the turkey is a very delicious animal.
And in the time of need, you would love to have a turkey around that you can feast on.
We personally like ground turkey as a replacement for ground beef for a cheaper and healthier option.
Plus, turkeys are a lot easier to keep than a giant cow would be.
Second, turkeys are a much cleaner animal than any chicken you would have.
For us, when we go to feed our chickens every day, their feeder is not in the place it was the day before and inevitably there is going to be poop in the feeder.
Chickens don’t care where they go to the bathroom, they just go.
They also feel the need to scratch all the time, which means that bedding makes its way into the water as well, meaning you have to clean out their water feeder every day.
Turkeys don’t have the same incling, so their food and water feeders keep pretty clean.
You also want find them going to the bathroom near their food.
This means they take a lot less maintenance to keep up.
So read on to find some tips for raising turkeys
Make sure to keep the poults plenty warm
First, baby turkeys (poults) are a very sensitive bunch of birds.
Unlike chicks, they aren’t very good at defending themselves while getting food and water.
This can sometimes lead to them getting trampled on without doing much in return.
They are also very sensitive to heat.
When you first put them in the brooder, start the lamp at 95 degrees for the first week, and then each week slowly lower the temperature by 5 degrees.
You lower the temperature on the lamp by raising the lamp further and further away from the poults.
This should be enough to lower the temperature.
You should also raise them in a separate brooder than you raise your chicks.
The chicks tend to fight over the food and water and may trample on the poults while trying to eat and drink.
So it is best to raise them separately.
Keep your turkeys separate from your chickens
Chickens and turkeys get along well enough.
Turkeys can be somewhat territorial, but they do get along with chickens.
No, the reason that you keep your chickens and turkeys separate is that chickens carry around diseases that might affect turkeys but not affect the chickens at all.
This disease is called blackhead.
According to the FDA:
Turkeys are highly susceptible to blackhead disease. Once a turkey flock has been infected, 70 to 100% of the birds may die. In one survey, U.S. turkey industry professionals reported at least 50 outbreaks of the disease each year since 2009.1 Blackhead disease is less severe in chickens but can lead to poor health and reduced egg production.https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/resources-you/blackhead-disease-poultry
So while chickens can get blackhead, they aren’t always affected by it.
While turkeys are very susceptible to the disease.
Hence, why you should keep your turkeys away from the chickens.
I can’t imagine 70 to 100% of my turkey flock getting infected just because I couldn’t keep my chickens away from the turkeys.
Provide enough feed and water for your turkeys
Just like any other animal, you will want to make sure that your turkeys have plenty of water.
But turkeys don’t drink as much water as you might think.
A group of 5 turkeys can drink a gallon of water per day.
To put that into perspective, that’s a little less than 3 cups a day for your turkeys, which isn’t a lot compared to other animals.
Turkeys will also drink most of their water for the day within the first 4 hours of the day.
So make sure to get out there early and give your turkeys enough water first thing in the morning.
Turkeys will also eat somewhere between 3 to 4 lbs of feed a week, which again isn’t a whole lot.
If you are raising your turkeys for their meat, you might want to try feeding them upwards of 4 to 5 lbs each week.
You can also try adding corn to their food mixture.
Turkeys won’t always eat the corn, but if they decide to peck at it and eat some of it, that will definitely help to fatten them up.
Make sure to clip your turkey’s wings
Unlike chickens, turkeys can most definitely fly.
So unless you want to be running around town trying to find your turkeys, you need to do something to keep them from flying away.
And this would mean you should clip their wings.
Remember to make sure to clip their wings carefully.
Start by having a friend hold your turkey.
Then find the longer wings, or what is called the primary wings.
Last, get a good pair of scissors and then cut a few inches from the bottom of the primary wings.
And then that’s it, move onto the other side of the turkey and repeat.
Do for all of your turkeys.
Select the right kind of breed for what you want
Most people who bring turkeys onto their homestead/farm, do so because they want to raise them for meat.
There are a few good breeds for this.
The most common breed is the Broad Breasted White.
It is the turkey that you will most likely get when you purchase a frozen turkey from the store.
It is also the turkey breed that is typically pardoned by the President of the United States on Thanksgiving each year.
These turkeys also can get up to 38 to 40 lbs, which is one of the bigger breeds.
The Broad Breasted Bronze turkey can usually get around 35 lbs, so not much lighter than the white.
Last, the Standard Bronze can get up to 25 lbs, so significantly lighter than our first two, but not a bad size.
Another thing to note, because the bronze and white are broad breasted, they cannot naturally breed, while the standard bronze can.
So if you want to be able to breed your turkeys so you don’t have to buy new ones each year, then the standard turkeys are the ones you want.
Have plenty of room for your turkeys
If you want your turkeys to grow big, then you need to give them some room to walk around.
On the flip side, if you keep them caged up, they aren’t going to grow as big as you would hope.
It’s much like you hear about goldfish.
If you keep a goldfish in a small fishbowl, then will stay the same size.
But if you put them in a bigger bowl, they will grow to match the size of the bowl.
The same is true with turkeys.
So make sure to give them plenty of space.
Turkeys also like company, so make sure you have more than one of them.
And also don’t think that you can just put them into a chicken coop.
Since they turn out to be much bigger animals, you are going to need a coop much bigger.
And also something for them to roost on.
Turkeys could be the new chickens.
The turkeys will give you eggs and also provide you with a delicious meal by the end of the year.
Just make sure to take care of them.
Keep the poults warm while they are young, including starting the temperature at 95 degrees and slowly bring the temperature down week after week.
Make sure to feed your turkeys plenty of food and water, and also add some corn to their feed to help bulk them up (knowing that they may not eat the food, but it is possible).
Make sure to clip their wings on a regular basis so they don’t fly away and provide them plenty of space.
Lastly, make sure the breed is the right one for your needs.