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Last year, when we had multiple turkeys including females in one pen, one tom was obviously dominant, and the rest of them acted like juveniles, even being smaller. Then when the dominant one was removed from the pen, the next tom grew some, and exhibited all the dominant traits. When he was removed, the next one became dominant.

My question is, has anyone else experienced this and most importantly, were the less-dominant toms effective breeders?

I have someone who wants to keep a heritage breed tom with her BBB group, in case the BBB tom can't do his job in the spring. What is your opinion? Will the heritage tom breed even with the BBB still there, somewhat older and dominant?

I may have to test this out next spring, but meanwhile, I thought I'd ask you.
Kit
 

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I can't say as I've had that experience, but then mine free range. Mine all get full size and strut and dance and jump the girls when possible. It very well may be different in confined situations, though. Be interesting to see what others say!
 

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Well, my heritage turkeys fly away, so they're penned. About 10 x 30 foot Quonset-hut-type pens with cattle panels as the hoops, and tarps for shade and rain. The BBW's don't fly of course, but I've lost whole heritage groups before, so they don't get the chance!

Oh, and local Fish & Wild says I have to buy a turkey tag and can only shoot a total of 3 "heritage type" turkeys even if I raised them, if I can't catch them to butcher in the regular fashion!! When they roost 40 feet up in a tree it's impossible to catch them to process.
Kit
 
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Oh, and local Fish & Wild says I have to buy a turkey tag and can only shoot a total of 3 "heritage type" turkeys even if I raised them, if I can't catch them to butcher in the regular fashion!! When they roost 40 feet up in a tree it's impossible to catch them to process.
Kit
Do you have wild turkeys? There aren't any rules for ordinary heritage turkeys.
 
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I didn't/would never bother to consult fish and game about what I do with my birds (unless I was checking legality for raising wild turkeys). But I did notice that one of my Bronzes was much bigger than the other. They both showed off and they did fight a little. The other one hasn't really grown bigger or anything, but now it's just him and the hen.
 

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Lost in the Wiregrass
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BBB toms can't mate naturally. And the toms don't decide who gets to breed. The hens do. There is no forced breeding in turkey society. The hens will accept the tom of their choice for mating. That's why the toms display ALL the time. They are trying to look appealing. I personally would not keep a BB tom in a breeding group at all. Even tho he can't successfully mate he can try an mount a hen and end up hurting her or simply cause her to lay infertile eggs becsuse she thinks he got the job done.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Do you have wild turkeys?
According to the fish-and-wild lady I spoke with, there are no not-wild turkeys that can fly. If they are not fat BB's the F&W figure they're "wild." Wild turkeys are not indigenous to Oregon, they were imported, so any heritage breed is suspect.

I didn't/would never bother to consult fish and game
Believe me, I wouldn't have either, but our (nasty, awful, horrible) neighbor sicced them on us because we had "caged" a wild turkey. Uh, huh. He was happy to remain inside the 5-acre 4 ft high perimeter fence because he got food from the free-range chickens and attention and wouldn't leave although he could.

I'm not crazy enough to invite anyone to interfere or regulate my life, thank you.

And I have spoken with someone locally who raises BBW successfully but she doesn't let them hatch their own young because the hens break eggs when they step on them. I'd have asked her this question, but met her at some meeting and have no contact for her now. I, too, am skeptical, so we're going to try, then have a replacement heritage tom to use if the eggs don't look fertile.
Kit
 
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Do you have wild turkeys?
According to the fish-and-wild lady I spoke with, there are no not-wild turkeys that can fly. If they are not fat BB's the F&W figure they're "wild." Wild turkeys are not indigenous to Oregon, they were imported, so any heritage breed is suspect.
That F&W lady doesn't know what the heck she's talking about. There are no regulations on heritage turkeys, period.
 

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Lost in the Wiregrass
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BBW or BBB turkeys cannot breed naturally both from the toms angle of his brest gets in the way to mount and copulate properly, and from the hens angle of her breast crushes the eggs when she tries to incubate them, they have to be Artificially inseminated and incubated, a Heritage tom can mate with a BB hen fine, but that is as far as it goes,
 

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Last year, when we had multiple turkeys including females in one pen, one tom was obviously dominant, and the rest of them acted like juveniles, even being smaller. Then when the dominant one was removed from the pen, the next tom grew some, and exhibited all the dominant traits. When he was removed, the next one became dominant.

My question is, has anyone else experienced this and most importantly, were the less-dominant toms effective breeders?

I have someone who wants to keep a heritage breed tom with her BBB group, in case the BBB tom can't do his job in the spring. What is your opinion? Will the heritage tom breed even with the BBB still there, somewhat older and dominant?

I may have to test this out next spring, but meanwhile, I thought I'd ask you.
Kit
Heritage toms will try to breed ant hills and bleach jugs, so a real live hen will be a cake walk for them. They don't care that they are bigger hens. :)

Turkey toms naturally spend a lot of the year in bachelor groups, and they do act just as you said. Dominant toms, and lesser toms, with the dynamics changing as toms are removed. Toms way down the ladder in dominance will not be able to breed hens when there are other toms around to shove them off the hens, but they want to! So if they are given their own pens of hens they will get the job done.

Be careful reuniting toms when you take them out of the breeding pens and put them back into the general population, because as soon as toms are gone for two of three days they are considered "strangers" and fighting will happen. Toms gang up on others and will go after a single bird, and they can beat the living daylights out of someone else very fast. Just keep an eye out when you recombine them.

A good trick is to pen the hens, wait until you see them dropping when you come to feed them, and then bring your chosen tom. Watch him breed one or two hens and then take him out and bring him back the next day. This way the other toms don't take offence. Or leave him in with the hens for only two days and take him back out.
 
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