Raising Turkeys?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by tngirl, Jul 28, 2004.

  1. tngirl

    tngirl Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    105
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Washington, Georgia
    Hey, everybody! I'm thinking of ordering some turkeys to raise for this Thanksgiving. I've been told it's not too late. But, I don't know how to raise them. Someone told me that they require different attention than chickens. So what do I need to do?
     
  2. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

    Messages:
    6,244
    Joined:
    May 11, 2003
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Ah, feed em, give em water and shelter from predators and weather.

    You might want to try some of the "heritage" breeds. They are supposed to have a better flavor. I had some royal palms before, also have had blue slates. You have to be carefull if you freerange them, they like to get on vehicles and scratch them. :no: They will also rip around playing on your roof, watch you through the windows while you put your makeup on with a mirror in the window, ect. They are funny critters. They will range a long way when they get big. They may be hard to kill after all that. I never butchered any of mine.

    There is a yahoo mail group, rare heritage turkeys. They know alot about raising turkeys to eat. If you wanted to join to see the messages and ask questions, go to www.groups.yahoo.com put "rare heritage turkey" in the search and you should see them. They have many members, so I would select "no emails" in my membership unless you want tons of emails. Yahoo will give your address to spammers unfortunately though. So if you have a nice spam free email, I wouldn't use it for that.

    One thing, don't freeze them until they have had a day or so to rest in the fridge. That's good advice for any meat.
     

  3. mainefun40

    mainefun40 Active Member

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Location:
    Maine
    Hi! This is July 28 Right? Assuming a week between order and delivery and we're at about the 4th of August. That only leaves 3.7 (or so) months till Thanksgiving!! I don't think day-old poults would mature enough to be real good by then!

    But, you might find some that were started earlier!

    The thing with turkeys is that its best not to raise them on ground where chickens have been. There's a disease called "blackhead" that chicken poop contains...

    Also, they require very high protein feed!
    28 percent for starting and 24 percent for growing.

    They're friendly, funny, and a bit daft about some things but nice temperaments when young.

    Big toms, like other males have times when they're nasty,
    and hens, like other females,
    have tendencies to be curious!

    Steve
     
  4. Ken in Maine

    Ken in Maine Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    574
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Saint Albans, Maine
    Hi Steve;

    Take a drive to Saint Albans and see my turkeys. We got them the 7th of May (about one month earlier than in the past) and they are HUGE!!!!

    We got 25 and 21 have survived to this point. I'm taking 15 of them over to Greaney's in Mercer next Sunday and have them done. If I tried to keep them until T-giving they'd not be able to walk. We'll keep the smaller one's for a bit longer.
     
  5. I have a pair of toms that were hatched 3/30/04 or thereabouts -- they're about 25 pounds each and it appears one's going to end up an early dinner as he's starting to look distinctly cowhocked. The other is slightly smaller and had his legs underneath him better to start with; I'm hoping he'll make it to Thanksgiving. Broad breasted bronzes. The whites grow even faster. (I went with the bb bronzes hoping they'd grow slower and survive until the holidays because it's just too hot here to ship birds much past march.)

    I actually deliberately keep my turkeys in with the chickens -- turkeys carry a herpesvirus that theoretically makes chickens at least partially immune to mareks. Blackhead doesn't appear to be a problem in my area, at least so far.

    Feed Purina's "Flock Raiser" for what it's worth, and since they seem to want it, possibly due to the growth, I give them oyster shell as well.

    So bottom line is, shouldn't be too late to start them for Thankgiving if you get whites or bb bronzes. If they do end up a bit small for your needs, you can always butcher more than one.

    Leva
     
  6. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,622
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    Location:
    Maine
    Last delivery date for Greaney's poults is August 12, which will give a slaughter weight of between 14 and 22 pounds on the broad breasted varieties by Thanksgiving. While I much prefer heritage breeds, they won't be ready to eat until next year if you start them now. Better to start with some broad breasteds for your first batch. They're cheap and quick.

    BTW, tngirl, just do a Google search on raising turkeys and you'll get way more information than you ever wanted to know.
     
  7. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

    Messages:
    6,244
    Joined:
    May 11, 2003
    Location:
    Arkansas
    If blackhead is not in your area, you should be fine raising them with chickens, or where they have been.

    At the feed store just ask for turkey starter. Our crummy feed store has it, so I would think they all do. Then you would switch to some kind of finisher or grower at some point. If they get to range a bit, feed is not quite as important.
     
  8. Lisa A

    Lisa A Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    130
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2003
    We ordered four turkeys with the last chick order, in june. We raised them
    with and like the chicks, and had three of them die, don't know exactly why.
    They are fussier than chicks. What we did to save the last one is:
    - up the protien (added chopped hard boiled eggs to their diet)
    - added a bit of garlic powder to the food
    - added a little apple cider vinegar to the water
    - were more careful about cleanliness

    It was heartbreaking to have them die, I hear that they are more fragile than
    chickens at the chick/poult stage.
     
  9. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    Floyd County, VA
    I got my Turkeys in the middle of April - they could be dinner now even though they may not be "full" grown. Actually one is having trouble walking so may not make it to Thanksgiving.

    This year is my first with any bird, but the turkeys seem to be extremely easy. I treat them the same as the chickens, they even sleep with the chickens. They are really quiet, pleasant birds. Next year I hope to try some other breeds and maybe get a few more. One thing that did happen is that one drowned in his water dish. They are not overly smart so you have to keep that in mind. :)

     
  10. athome in SD

    athome in SD Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    51
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    I got turkeys just last week, same time I always do
    and they weigh 25-35lbs at thanksgiving. You should
    be just fine getting them now :)
    Mine freerange when they get big enough to run
    out and about without the worry of a cat gettting
    them. And they roost with the chickens at night
    in the hen house. They have their choice of full
    feed but do ALOT of bug eatting- they love
    grasshoppers!
    Good luck and have fun raising them, they are
    comical creatures to watch.
    Christina
     
  11. devittjl

    devittjl Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    220
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2004
    Location:
    Washington
    I free range my BB bonzes all day. This will cut down on your feed cost.

    They hang out with the chickens and the ducks, eating and drinking from the same feeders and waterers. So far I have not lost any, but I do keep a close eye on them.

    I pen them up separately at night so they have access to a turkey grower feed (higer protein). If you are not concerned about the rate of growth you would not need a differnt feed.

    Be sure to give them appropriate names, or they will quickly become family favorites. They are alot more fun to watch then the chickens and ducks. I named ours Thanksgiving, Christmans and Easter!

    John
     
  12. kabri

    kabri Almst livin the good life

    Messages:
    1,126
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    W. Washington State
    The one thing no one's mentioned yet about raising turkeys is supplying them with greens. I've read that wild turkeys have a huge part of their diet as greens... grass, weeds, etc. Our poults are about the size of small chickens right now, still can get through field fence wire so we are not free-ranging them yet. But every morning I let them out and they (16 poults!) follow me around the pasture "putting" when they find something interesting or good to eat. I also give them cabbage and pull chickweed out of the garden for them. They all attack it and devour it! We have BBB and also some 1/2 BBB and 1/2 bourbon red poults this year. We are hoping the crosses are going to be not so massive as the BBB but bigger and a little faster growth than the pure bourbons.

    Our bourbon red toms and hen are extremely hardy and healthy. They are from last year, survived our extreme weather we had her last winter with just douglas fir trees for shelter. DH is not happy with the amount of meat on them... guess he really likes butter-balls! But we ate 1 royal palm tom and 2 bourbon reds last year, the meat was outstanding for taste!!!!!!
     
  13. trixiwick

    trixiwick bunny slave

    Messages:
    4,389
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Location:
    Southeastern PA
    Kabri, good point about the greens. We too tear up grass and weeds for our little peepers, and they love it. I have heard you should let heritage breed turkeys "age" for a year or so before you eat them - so the Bourbon Reds I got this year would be tastiest if butchered in 2005. Any truth to this, in your experience?

    I have a BB bronze for Thanksgiving, in any case!
     
  14. kabri

    kabri Almst livin the good life

    Messages:
    1,126
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    W. Washington State
    We only kept 3 bourbons over the winter. 1 hen, who just hatched out 5 poults last week and 2 toms. One of the toms is a pet, will be used for breeding. The other is kind of a pet, he's got the most gorgeous coloring and markings that we were hoping to use him for breeding as well, to our BBB hens to get more BBB/BR crosses. However, the gorgeous one has tried to stomp some of the poults. has to be kept separate. DH might decided to eat him! But the meat does not seem to be much more than what they had last winter when we pick them up and thump their chests! Right now, the adult toms are moulting and growing new feathers.

    I've heard the same thing.... 18 months is a good butcher age for the heritage breeds. We just have not been able to do it to the ones who have become pets!