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This is a discussion on Turkeys?? within the Farm Animals forums, part of the Farm Forum category

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    06-21-2012, 12:10 PM
Green Broke

I made arrangements to collect a big coop on Saturday, so I promised the girls they can finally get turkeys.

I've raised a bunch of chickens but never a Turkey.... so I am clueless here.

Do turkeys need different living arrangements than chickens (other than larger to fit them obviously) and how about food? Are they at all friendly or am I looking at enclosing them so they don't go after my free-range chickens?

The feed store only has a couple left and they won't be getting any more. They are 1 day old, do you think I could safely toss them in with a 3 week old banty Frizzle and a 3 week old Australorp until Saturday?
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    06-21-2012, 12:38 PM
Super Moderator
The living arrangements are similar, but you can’t (or shouldn’t if you want them to survive) put them with the other chicks.

Turkeys chicks need to start at 95 to 100 degree temps in a brooder, but then you reduce the temp by 5 degrees every week, like chicks. Whatever temps your chicks are at now isn’t warm enough for newly hatched poults, as they will catch a chill and die.

Something else to know… they don’t move as freely in and out of the heated areas because as a whole they are not as smart as chicks. (I have and raise turkeys, so I can get away with calling them, um… dumb. )

They also have to start out on a higher protein food.
A 28% starter is best, but a 26% will also work. Most chick starters for egg layers don’t go over 22%.

You start them high, and in 6 to 8 week increments change the protein levels. How and which foods you feed depends on if you are raising them to be meat birds, or family flock members.

A trick to help them find their food and water, is to put shiny marbles or rocks in them. Large enough so they can’t swallow them, but that they can peck at them. Turkeys love shiny things and in pecking at them will discover the food and water. Be vary careful with using a waterer that is for very small chicks. If they somehow fall into a waterer designed for bigger chicks, they won’t struggle very long before they give up and die.

With all that said… they are great birds to have around. Once they are old enough, you can put them with the chickens and they will learn to peck and scratch like them. As they grow they will lightly (usually) fuss with chickens to establish a flock order just as chickens do amongst themselves , but won’t pick on a chicken unless something is wrong with it, just like chickens do.

If you decide to breed them later on, I have great success with placing the turkey eggs under a broody chicken hen to hatch and raise just like chicks. My hatch rates are much higher than most and chicken moms are more dedicated than turkey moms. Well, maybe not more dedicated, but smarter which makes for more success.

Some breeds are far friendlier than others. I have Bourbon Reds which are one of the nicest birds. Other breeds can be aloof, and the broad breasted varieties usually won’t live to full adulthood because of being bred to grow and mature fast like broiler chickens, so if you intend to keep them, be sure to know which breed they are.

Feel free to ask any specific questions and I’ll try to help if I know the answers.
Here are some links that can help-
FlyGap and Foxhunter like this.
    06-21-2012, 01:01 PM
Green Broke
Umm... I use a heating lamp for chicks, it has two settings on and off. I just hang it over a corner of the plastic tub I keep the babies in and when they fully feather out I turn it off during the hottest part of the day and increase the time off by a couple hours each day unless I see them huddling and then it goes back on. I toss the chicks in with everyone in the big coop when they are roughly half the size of everyone else and have been going outside for a few hours during the day (I free-range since the only predator we have is Coyotes and I make sure everyone is locked up before dusk). I've never lost a chick (other than one that was *off* from the day I got him) and I have no idea what temperature the heat lamp keeps the bin at.

Is this not going to work with Turkeys then? I was hoping to hatch chicks eventually using my permanently broody Cochin. You'd think one of these days she'd figure out her golf balls are never going to hatch but nope.. My only fear with her is that she doesn't give a hoot about you taking the eggs she steals from other chickens, just don't touch HER golf balls!! Wondering if she'd abandon actual eggs since they aren't her golf balls.
Celeste likes this.
    06-21-2012, 02:05 PM
Just buy a thermometer, well encased and put it 5/6 inches above the floor. Raise the heat lamp until you get the desired temp.

Can I borrow your Cochin? She rocks!
My stupid hens won't go broody, bout to buy an incubator. :(
    06-21-2012, 02:30 PM
I have 6 turkeys and im a new turkey mom. I thought I would be able to free range them on my farm.. they were raised in a coop.. with a run out.. and after they had been large enough and been living in this coop for months I tried to let them roam.

They are dumber than a box of rocks! They do not roost at night like chickens do and constantly I was finding them "lost" on the other side of the barn crying out.. and really thirsty. So. They are penned now. They eat A LOT! My 6 turkeys go through a 40 lbs bag of feed every 2-3 days.
    06-21-2012, 03:20 PM
Super Moderator
Originally Posted by GhostwindAppaloosa    
they are dumber than a box of rocks! .......
Uh huh.
Welcome to the world of turkeys!

Chicks are a lot hardier that turkey poults so just having a lamp they shuffle around under until they are comfy often works well with them. Poults on the other hand are just not as hardy or smart. It takes some attention to detail for about the first four weeks or so, but after that they can be treated like 2 week old chicks, except for the different diet.

If you have a broody hen, your problem may be solved…
You could be sneaky (I do it all the time) and during the night while she is sleeping, pull out the golf balls and replace them with a few newly hatched chicks.
She will just think they are her chicks that hatched and go about normal mamma life.

If the turkey poults are under two or three days old (or regular chicks in you want some of those instead) this will work really well and you would not have to mess with a brooder for the poults.
I do it all the time and currently have two chickens with turkey poults and another going to hatch out poults in about 5 days.

To insure that the poults survive with the hen and not get lost (as poults have a habit of doing) or get picked on, I would contain them or make a safe little pen for mamma hen and baby poults.

If you decide not to put chicks or poults under her, be careful with the broody hen. Some will sit on golf balls or rocks until they die. Make sure your broody hen is getting up to eat and drink at least once a day. More than likely the eggs you are finding are from other chickens sitting on top of her of very near her and laying them, then she tucks them under her body. Birds are smart and have no problem letting someone else do the work. (My ducks "deposit" their eggs under my broody hens all the time) She has gotten used to the feel of those golf balls and your taking the extra egg here and there doesn’t mess up the “feel” of those golf balls under her, so she doesn’t mind.

Broody hens will almost go into a trance until the impending hatchling chicks start peepingin the shells to signal thay are about to hatch. This is what snaps them out of the trance.

A really healthy chicken can actually hatch out two broods in a row. Each brood takes 21 days for chicks (longer for ducks or poults) and two in a row is quite a stretch. Hens normally loose some weight during the process, so keep an eye on her and the golf balls. If she is getting too thin you may need to break up the broody behavior, or put food and water right in front of her and an actual fertilized egg(s) that will eventually hatch. One the chick hatches remove everything from the nest and let her raise her little one.

    06-21-2012, 03:46 PM
Green Broke
She gets up 1x per day (like it or not), the kids worry about her as she is their absolute favorite and they pull her out and set her in front of the food/water. She doesn't care if you pull her off her nest, just goes back as soon as she eats/drinks and maybe chases the other chickens a bit.

She's actually off her nest right now, she sits for 21 days, re-enters the world for about 10 days, lays one itty bitty egg and then back to sitting for another 21 days. If she goes broody here again in the next couple days, I have an empty coop and can put her and babies in there. I have no roosters, so no idea if she'll make a good mom or not.
    06-21-2012, 11:43 PM
Super Moderator
Originally Posted by Delfina    
She gets up 1x per day (like it or not), the kids worry about her as she is their absolute favorite and they pull her out and set her in front of the food/water. She doesn't care if you pull her off her nest, just goes back as soon as she eats/drinks and maybe chases the other chickens a bit.

She's actually off her nest right now, she sits for 21 days, re-enters the world for about 10 days, lays one itty bitty egg and then back to sitting for another 21 days. If she goes broody here again in the next couple days, I have an empty coop and can put her and babies in there. I have no roosters, so no idea if she'll make a good mom or not.
Based on her dedication so far, I'm betting she makes a wonderful mother.
    06-22-2012, 08:13 PM
I raised 4 turkeys with 9 silkie chicks and they were fine. If your brooder is big enough they can get away from the heat if they need to. I left mine in with the chickens till the turkeys out grew them and started stepping on them and picking at them.
    07-12-2012, 03:59 PM
I would agree with the 'dumber then a box of rocks' comment. But that's an insult to rocks everywhere.

My turkey's get 'lost' when they get over the fence into the goat pasture.

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