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Mixing chickens and turkeys, predator defense edition

 
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I've read quite a bit about why not to mix chickens and turkeys, mostly due to disease risks.  I tried to keep them apart, but the turkeys kept breaking into the chicken area.  So I gave up and just mixed them.  That said I haven't seen any evidence of disease from mixing the nuggets (broilers) and Dollys (broad breasted turkeys).  

One benefit that I hadn't anticipated from mixing them is the turkeys seem to be a pretty effective deterrent to predation by the ravens.  Since putting them together I haven't seen much of the ravens, whereas I did when they were separated.

I also noticed this morning that a crow was picking through some veggie scraps still in the previous paddock near the fence line.  Every single turkey was right at that edge of the fence guarding against the crow.  Now, obviously crows aren't the threat the ravens are, but I still find it interesting how much they worked together to keep it away from the chickens.
 
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Are ravens a threat to chickens? I ask because a tribe of them displaced my local hawk population and I was quite pleased with it. I see ravens looking st my birds, but they never seem to attack.
 
Andrew Mayflower
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Shawn Harper wrote:Are ravens a threat to chickens? I ask because a tribe of them displaced my local hawk population and I was quite pleased with it. I see ravens looking st my birds, but they never seem to attack.



I lost 3 last year. Would have been a lot more but we saw it happen and chased them off, the put bird netting over the paddock.
 
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Chicks or full grown chickens?

If you can stand the noise, guinea fowl are quite defensive and they let you know something is going on. The same with geese. Most things the size of a raven, would think twice before getting too close to a big goose.

I may have helped them become accustomed to chicken. If I buy one of those roasted chickens from the grocery store, when it's down to the bones and those lungs that I don't know why they leave in, I leave it for the ravens.
 
Andrew Mayflower
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Chicks or full grown chickens?

If you can stand the noise, guinea fowl are quite defensive and they let you know something is going on. The same with geese. Most things the size of a raven, would think twice before getting too close to a big goose.

I may have helped them become accustomed to chicken. If I buy one of those roasted chickens from the grocery store, when it's down to the bones and those lungs that I don't know why they leave in, I leave it for the ravens.



6 week old Freedom Ranger broilers.
 
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Andrew Mayflower wrote:I've read quite a bit about why not to mix chickens and turkeys, mostly due to disease risks.  I tried to keep them apart, but the turkeys kept breaking into the chicken area.  So I gave up and just mixed them.  That said I haven't seen any evidence of disease from mixing the nuggets (broilers) and Dollys (broad breasted turkeys).  



For what it's worth I have raised chickens and turkeys together for two summers now and never had an issue with disease or fighting or anything bad really.

They were rotated on pasture frequently which I am sure helps other than that just standard raised.
 
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I've never raised turkeys but I had a tom and 3 hens live next to me when I free-ranged my chickens.  I thought that my roos did a good job on lookout until I saw the tom in action.  He was on guard 90% of the time while they foraged, compared to my roos at about 50%.  The only times he wasn't watching out were when I was throwing sunflower seeds to my chickens and he's come barrelling out of the woods to get some or, later, when they were comfortable with me and I was outside, he'd let me keep watch.  I could see heritage turkeys doing a good job on watch.

I used to keep quail in my chicken run and never had an issue, though it seems you can't raise quail with chickens because of disease.  I did it for a few years and knew 2 people who had quail in the chicken coop with no issues.  I'm sure there's a transmission vector there but, if neither have any disease, there's nothing to pass on.

It seems the turkeys didn't want to stick around when the coyotes or bald eagle came calling, though, so there was a limit to their effectiveness.  The chickens would also chase them off if they got too close to me, otherwise I think I could have fed the tom from my hand.
 
Andrew Mayflower
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Joshua Fryc wrote:

Andrew Mayflower wrote:I've read quite a bit about why not to mix chickens and turkeys, mostly due to disease risks.  I tried to keep them apart, but the turkeys kept breaking into the chicken area.  So I gave up and just mixed them.  That said I haven't seen any evidence of disease from mixing the nuggets (broilers) and Dollys (broad breasted turkeys).  



For what it's worth I have raised chickens and turkeys together for two summers now and never had an issue with disease or fighting or anything bad really.

They were rotated on pasture frequently which I am sure helps other than that just standard raised.



I do keep mine in a pasture rotation too.

I've seen the turkeys bully the chickens during the twice daily feeding frenzy.  Not any different in type than between chickens, I just get a little concerned at times that because of the 4-5x size difference the turkeys might injure a chicken without really meaning to (they haven't, yet).
 
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I never noticed my turkeys guarding. Now they do love to run over to things, whatever that thing would be. So I can see them running over to some other bird eating scraps. I watched my turkeys step on the chickens. Like not on purpose but turkeys get BIG ya know. Never had disease problems either having a mixed flock.
 
Andrew Mayflower
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elle sagenev wrote:I never noticed my turkeys guarding. Now they do love to run over to things, whatever that thing would be. So I can see them running over to some other bird eating scraps. I watched my turkeys step on the chickens. Like not on purpose but turkeys get BIG ya know. Never had disease problems either having a mixed flock.



They can definitely be a bit of a proverbial bull in a china shop.

With that crow, the turkeys were definitely defending, not just running over to observe.  There were calls, displays, whole 9 yards.  And when it's just a curiosity thing some of them will start to filter off after a minute or so.  With the crow they were all very attentive and focused until it left.
 
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Good discussion folks, I am following because we are thinking about the transition from paddock to free range, and trying to figure out if a turkey or geese are the answer. The main predator is foxes, although we have coyotes and hawks. Guineas are going in next year since the ticks are a huge pest, but our friends say they are marginal against the big avians, if not just food.

The turkey/chicken pest issue from my understanding is on juvenile turkeys raised around chickens. We have the ultimte heritage turkeys wild around here, but they aren't going to protect the chickens at all!
 
Andrew Mayflower
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Not sure I'd trust the turkeys to keep the chickens safe from actual raptors.  They might do fine, but I can't say that with any real confidence.  I have plenty of hawks and eagles in this area (I'm near the Skagit River that I think has some of the highest bald eagle populations in the state, if not country).  That said, I've never had an issue with raptors depredating my chickens.  Just corvids.

For ground based predators I depend on electric net fencing.  
 
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I had a Tom that attacked a stray labrador retriever that wandered into our yard.   Currently we have a Turkey hen that I've seen face off against 2 skunks.  We've always kept our chickens and turkeys together. There are lots of hawks and golden eagles, where we live.  But never had a problem with them , maybe due to our territorial turkeys.  
 
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