The turkey is a majestic and friendly bird that anyone can raise and own. They forage well and take up very little room.
Though many "experts" recommend that turkeys be raised seperate from chickens, many backyard flocks raise turkeys alongside their flocks of chickens, bantams, ducks and geese.ul and helpful in controlling a variety of pests, turkeys are easy to raise and fun to watch. Turkeys can be a profitable addition to a large to small farmstead.
Also gaining recent popularity is the desire for the small urban farm youtr own backyard.
People typically raise turkeys for meat, although some people like to keep a Tom (a mature male turkey) around as a pet.
Before you decide to add turkeys to your country or urban farmstead, here are the basics on raising them the right way.
In an Eggshell: What Turkeys Require for Home Enclosure Needs.
Safety & protection from predators
Places to dust bathe
Wood or metal roosts to fly into at night
Access to range with other livestock
A safe, durable and weather resistant fence system
As a general rule of thumb: 5 by 8 foot roost will house about 20 turkeys.
*Please keep in mind that urban farm foul laws vary from city to city in the United States. Recent laws have made it easier for residents to raise backyard foul and many citizens are taking advantage of the opportunity for fresh eggs and meat and a closer connection to their food supply. If you are interested in following this trend with your very own flock, it's important to understand the legal basics in your community.
Fencing and Housing for Your Turkeys
Wood is an ideal construction material for a roost or a pen fence, and electical conduit can also be used as extra turkey security on top the wooden posts to keep the pen lightweight and easily movable. If the roost or turkey tractor is very lightweight, it may need to be staked down so it doesn't blow over or away.
For temporary fencing, you can use electric poultry netting. If you want to build a more permanent enclosure, your farm fence should be as high as possible - at least four feet - given that these birds can and will fly
Wooden fencing structures are tried and true not only for the livestock's protection but also to provide more organic and natural farm aethetic. The wood fence can be topped with netting, to further enforce security and prevent escape.
Woven wire fencing is another good option and is made of smooth wire horizontally, held together by vertical wires or "stays." The horizontal spacing is closer toward the bottom and wider at the top. It is held in place with wood posts or metal T-posts. Woven wire fencing is ideal permanent fencing for goats, sheep, pigs and poultry. Because these animals can squeeze through larger-spaced wires, or dig under or climb over other fences, woven wire is often chosen to keep them contained. Some farmers use it for horses as well.
The fencing should always be flush to the ground and sturdy so that the turkeys are protected from predators such as fox, raccoons, weasels and neighborhood dogs. You can also trim the wing of their feathers of rogue flyers, as most turkeys will probably stay in the fenced in pen happily unless something disturbs them.
Turkeys can be turned out onto pasture with cattle if you are enclosing a rural farmstead. They will scratch and pick corn and other undigested grains out of their fellow livestock's feed in order to spread nutrients and improve the biologic quality of the pasture.
They will also eat pest weeds such as nettles, dock, and chicory which aids in nurturing pasture as well.
Thus far, recommendations for simple movable root structures and fenced in pens assume you are raising spring turkeys that will be slaughtered for meat at around 28 weeks of age, and thus you don't need winter housing or separate gated or fenced in spots for toms and hens to guard and sit on their eggs. A fenced in pen with solid sides makes a good space for a broody hen to hatch out poults. This can be within the large or small turkey roosts.
Reaping the Rewards of a Small Turkey Farm
Raising friendly, handsome turkeys for your family's use is both fun and worthwhile. If you raise them to eat, you'll have a much more wholesome and flavorful turkey than anything you could buy at the supermarket. Several of the old heritage breeds are still available, as well as the modern broad-breasted whites.Raising and housing turkeys has been gaining momentum. At the 2010 American Poultry Association National Poultry Show in Shawnee, Oklahoma, there were over 4500 birds shown. Of those 4500 birds, less than 60 were Turkeys. At the 2012 convention of the same name there were over 140 turkeys!
One of our country's founding father's Benjamin Franklin is notorious for his very public opinion on the tukey as America's first national bird. In letter to his daughter, Franklin wrote:
"For my own part I wish the Eagle had not been chosen the representative of our country. He is a is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen h perched on some dead tree near the river, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the Eagle pursues him and takes it from him."