Guide to Raising Turkeys
Guide to Raising Turkeys: Giant Turkeys
Raising Turkeys: Pasture Gamebirds for the Poultry Enthusiast
Turkeys were first raised in the backyard poultry farm by Mexicans. When the Spaniards visited Mexico, they took some of these large poultry birds back to Spain in the early 1500s. Since then, people have been raising turkeys and breeding turkeys for their meat. These large birds now join the ranks of other popular backyard poultry species that people enjoy, like raising backyard chickens or raising backyard geese.
Pennsylvania State University says that raising turkeys isn't just "satisfying," but also educational and a great way to raise "economical, high-quality meat" for both you and your friends and your family.
Raising Turkeys: All the Basics for Healthy Pet Turkeys
Turkeys are best reared indoors in a turkey coop or turkey house, although some people raise backyard turkeys in a free-range, pasture environment. However, raising turkeys indoors lets you keep them safe easier. For the average turkey breed, expect to provide each turkey with approximately six square feet per turkey, although this varies by breed. The more space you give your pet turkeys, the better. If you do decide to let your turkeys free-range on a pasture or field, don't let them out until they're a minimum of eight weeks old.
If you decide to buy baby turkeys from a poultry hatchery, or if you've hatched your own fertile turkey eggs, you need to place your poults (a name for baby turkeys or turkey chicks) in a brooder. A brooder keeps them warm, which is necessary until they've grown their adult feathers. Ideally, baby turkeys should be placed in a brooder within 48 hours after the turkey eggs have hatched. The brooder temperature should be 95 degrees for at least the first ten days.
Start feeding your turkey poults a turkey start or chick feed that's high in protein. Once your pet turkeys have reached an age of six weeks, transition them to a turkey growing ration that's been treated with an anti-blackhead preventive medication. Your turkeys will also need to be fed grit, which is fine gravel or coarse sand that they can use to grind up their food.
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Raising Turkeys: The Differences with Other Poultry
When you raise turkeys at home, you'll notice that there are distinct differences between raising giant turkeys and raising other more common forms of poultry, like chickens. Knowing the differences can better prepare you for your new addition to your poultry flock.
Raising turkeys versus raising chickens: When you're feeding chickens, you'll notice that chickens eat a lot less than turkeys. Much of this is simply a matter of proportion, since turkeys get a lot bigger than chickens. Note that chickens should never be raised alongside turkeys. If you raise chickens and turkeys together, your turkeys may be hit with a lethal disease known as blackhead.
Raising turkeys versus raising quail: When you're raising quail, you'll find the life cycle between turkeys and quail to be very different. Additionally, turkeys require far more space. They're also much more docile than the traditional gamebird, and that includes raising guinea fowl and waterbirds like backyard ducks.
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