Growing Gobblers – Dogs with Feathers


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What’s not to love about this face.
I can’t tell you how much I love my turkeys. If you follow me on any social media sources, you have seen Sawyer and Huck come in for a nap, a storm, a treat. They have gone for a walk and have been asked to come in to work to visit. They have no idea they are turkeys. If you ask them, they own us. They keep our dogs in check, boss around the chicks and even give HP a run for his money, in terms of being head of the flock.

Is it hard to own Turkeys?
No more than chickens, but understand with that comment does come pet responsibility.
Housing – Food – Basic needs are pretty much standard with a few caveats.

28843561671_257c22621e_nBlackhead Disease
This will come up in every post you  read.  Two options – Prevent with cayenne pepper sprinkled in water or treat with acidified copper sulfate . This can be tricky, when Turkeys get sick, they go down fast. Earthworms are a big contributor to this disease not just chicken droppings. Maintaining a clean coop and separate space for them to live (wreak havoc on) is a great start.
Housing
The girls were fine at first in a brooder. Went outside after 8 weeks (immunity and bio security) to a small pen next to the coop to get acquainted. Then they moved in. Most poults mature at 21-28 weeks. They need to be done after spring chick season for massive fall harvest (traditionally). Obviously our ladies were pets so there was to be none of that, but they grow fast.

28919417415_c54f4fb51d_nAfter two weeks in a grow out pen they were teenagers, large and clearly not having any thing to do with a tiny redwood Amazon house. We let them in with the big chickens. We created a really super easy run as you can see that links the two areas together. For the baby chicks that were growing too, it was also a sanctuary to hide from the big girls.

This kept everyone pretty much at peace. Until it didn’t.

Cannibalism – Turkeys do it. Give them one reason and they will tear another bird up. Almost immediately they started pecking everyone and bossing everyone around. One night they pecked Cluck and must have broken skin. When I went out later for a coop check she had her scalp peeled almost all the way back. Luckily Cluck is a smart girl and hid in the nest boxes in the small pen where she couldn’t be seen. I brought her in for treatment (another story) and 28634176070_9ddf521929_nplanned turkey training 101. When the chicks came out in the yard with the big girls to bath and play, the Turks stayed in.

It was like living with toddlers all over again. When they learned to share, they were treated. I used mealworms as a reward system. They learned to share quickly.

Food
If you are growing broiler/harvest birds they need to be on incredibly higher protein feed to fatten up. I was concerned about doing this for our birds being they were broad-breasted (commercial) and I didn’t want to injure their legs. Turkeys get joint issues from getting to fat to quick. Much like chicken production farming – they are not meant to “live” past a certain age.
Another note – our 28634169460_c0638060a8girls were never supposed to be regular eggs layers. Because they are not a heritage breed. We have had a beautiful large egg every day since they started. Tell me that’s not love. Go ahead try. 🙂
What I can suggest – delicious organic feed mixed with supplements (kale herbs probiotic) and given lightly – plus the opportunity to free range every evening.

Move out – Come fall they were not simply fitting up the ramp to the coop. We noticed they were actually sleeping outside. Dangerous, because our run was for daytime exercise only,  and not healthy. We (my husband) built a small 6×8 shed. Door out to run that closes at night for security, main door for me to get in clean and egg grab.

Pretty soon the chicks that had been in the brooder started joining them and it was one big happy family. Right now everyone is in there, while our new babies are separated in the coop.

Things People Don’t Tell You:

They are like watchdogs. No one comes in our yard that they don’t know. They will cut you. I have to be very careful with our small guests because they bite hard.
They come up and sit on chairs, the deck and beg at the back door for cookies.
They love to eat ANYTHING. Our yard is a crap hole this year due to their piggie ways.
You will fall madly in love and get really attached.
You will love kissing them on their dimply heads and flicking their wobbles.
They bark and talk and love to cuddle. Sawyer frequently would take naps with me on the deck.
They fly. Not so much the broad breasted (heavy) but heritage breeds can get altitude. Clips wings !
Poop is like a massive stink ball. Great fertilizer however after 3 mos in the compost pile.

Got questions for me ?

 

 

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