Views: 2023 Author: Site Editor Publish Time: 2023-03-01 Origin: Site
Raising backyard turkeys is an option some use instead of raising chickens. Some flocks contain both types of poultry birds. Turkey eggs are bigger and offer a different flavor experience. Perhaps you want to raise a couple of the large birds for upcoming holiday meals or, conversely, keep them as pets. Whatever the reason you’ve decided to raise turkeys, there are a few things you’ll want to learn to keep them healthy and growing.
Raising turkeys is somewhat like raising chickens. Both need a brooder space when they are young, but the size and diets of the two are different. Turkeys need high-protein turkey starter food for the first six weeks. It is not acceptable to substitute chicken starter food. The nutrient needs of the two are quite different because controlling the protozoa that causes coccidiosis is different in each poultry bird.
When you bring the poultry chicks home you’ll need to keep them in a cage with a heat lamp as they get cold easily. Make sure you put wood shavings, water, and baby chicks’ feed in the cage. You will fall in love. They are impossibly cute. Change the water, feed, and shavings every day. Watch to see if they are too cold or too hot. You can tell this by whether they huddle under the heat lamp or camp out in the farthest reaches of the cage. Chicken Hens grow up quickly. By the time they get too big for the cage, they will also be able to tolerate cooler air temperatures. You can move them to a larger cage or straight into their poultry house depending on the weather. When keeping hens in the backyard, make sure they have a chicken coop where they can sleep and stay warm and dry. The coop will need chicken nesting boxes with straw so that they can lay eggs. They will also need a predator-protected chicken run outside. The run should be connected to the coop. Chickens like to peck at the ground, eating bits and pieces of this and that. They like bugs. They also like to scratch the ground and stir up the dirt. Change their water regularly and keep them well supplied with poultry feeds. Change the dirty straw in the coop weekly too. It can get stinky in there.
Raising Turkeys must start off with a healthy turkey poultry. If you’re growing the bird for a holiday feast, check the time needed for maturity. Most breeds need 14-22 weeks to grow into a mature and edible stage. Food, Water, and Space for Keeping Turkeys If this is your first experience in keeping turkeys, make sure the birds eat within the first 12 hours of arrival at their new home. Sources suggest they learn to drink water before you feed them. Provide clean water to them at all times. Most turkey poults (babies) will only be a day old, possibly two when you get them home. Put down wood shavings in their space, but not sawdust or newspaper. They may eat the sawdust instead of starter food and starve themselves to death. Newspaper on the floor can create splayed legs from slipping and sliding around.
Turkey poults are a bit rougher and more aggressive with each other than broiler chicks. If you notice a few “bullies” excessively pecking the weaker ones in your flock, you can use a red heat bulb. The red lighting can help prevent pecking and is less disruptive to the birds’ sleep.
You have a few housing and management options for your growing birds. Turkeys can be raised anywhere from a movable coop on a pasture, fully free-ranged or in a coop or a barn ,or shed. The most important things across all housing styles are ventilation, protection from the elements, and safety from predators.
As with any poultry, free-range turkeys come with the risk of predators in spite of their larger more intimidating stature. A portable electric fence is one option for a pasture-based flock. If you can watch your flock during the day, you might not need any fencing, but you still will need a shelter to put them away at night. If you choose the confinement route but still want to incorporate some low-maintenance outdoor space, build an inexpensive wire fence run.
Turkeys, like chickens, have a natural instinct to roost. But when you are raising turkeys for market purposes, this is not recommended in your housing layout because it can cause breast blisters and bruising—not to mention that commercial market breeds are too heavy to do this safely. Instead, provide dry litter at all times, deep enough so they can nestle into it. This keeps birds comfortable. Adequate litter also prevents damage or injury to the best cuts of meat.
Provide an indoor (nesting spot) location of 6 square feet for the turkeys in addition to 20 square feet or more outdoors. Provide a roosting area if possible. Keep them inside at night to provide more control over parasites and keep them safe from predators. Turkeys are social birds, so plan to spend time with them while you’re outside. Allow one square foot of space for the young birds, up until they’re two months of age. Keep them in a brooder to stay warm, dry, and contained until they’re six weeks. Keep the brooder area draft-free. Young poults cannot regulate their body temperature for the first ten days. Use brooder guards, especially during the first week to keep the birds in place. After that, provide the space mentioned above. You can gradually increase the space if needed. Sources also say it’s best to raise turkeys in groups of three to six.
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