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Turkeys

 
Alison Thomas
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What are folks thoughts on raising turkeys please?
 
Jennifer Smith
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Location: Zone 5
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I didn't like them...messy and not very useful.  Pretty and fun birds though.  Geese are messy but are helpul in the orchard, berries, or lawnChickens are great!!
 
Leah Sattler
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I would like to try turkeys someday and I would like more personal accounts also. I was told they don't scratch like chickens. I thought they may be better garden bug getters. It would be nice to raise our own thanksgiving turkey also.
 
paul wheaton
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One of the great things about turkeys is that they are able to survive in the wild around here - thus, if you care for them right, you shouldn't have to feed them. 

 
                          
Posts: 37
Location: Western Washington
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paul wheaton wrote:
One of the great things about turkeys is that they are able to survive in the wild around here - thus, if you care for them right, you shouldn't have to feed them. 




I'm not sure your domesticated turkey is going to have the same foraging abilities as your wild ones.

Like chickens, they're capable of providing some of their own food requirements if allowed to free-range but I don't think I'd get turkeys without planning on supplementing their feed.  Especially in the winter.
 
Leah Sattler
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we have wild turkeys out here and the are actually available for purchase too! I wouldn't trust that any ol breed of turkey could hack it on there own but maybe some of the eastern turkeys purchased as babies and taught to stick around with a bit of supplemental food could do well. consideration must also be given to the fact that wild turkeys roam a large area. they couldn't feed themselves off a few natural acres. maybe with some cultivated feed stuffs.
 
paul wheaton
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And yet, turkeys do well in winter.

Nearly everybody who raises turkeys provides feed.  So, do doubt, the turkeys can certainly survive that.  Well known.  You could even say "proven" - at least, I would support "proven."

And, turkeys survive the winter wandering the woods.  This proves that the ONLY reason a turkey would not survive in captivity is if their "cage"  is too small. 

And if you have loads of grains still standing in the winter and the turkeys knock it down on the coldest day of the year .... 

I suppose some people spend $2000 on feed and sell turkeys for $2000 and they are totally cool with that.  Other folks sell the turkeys for the same amount, but spent only $20 on seed - and those folks are totally cool with that.    Some folks find something in between - and those folks are totally cool with that.

Some folks are spending $2000 and they aren't aware of the folks that are spending only $20 on the seed.    So if I throw it out there, maybe one or two of them will some day stumble onto this thread ...





 
Leah Sattler
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you could cut feed bills tremendously with just a little planning for forage certainly. I wonder though if they could be bit like free range chickens and kinda tough. would it help to feed them out a little stronger near the end to encourage them to be a bit more sedentary? maybe a mix of the two strategies could produce an inexpensive product that would still be in demand.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I could imagine finishing them in an area that's managed very intensely, with forage similar to what they're used to at an uncommonly high concentration.  Say, a raised-bed veggie garden with their favorite foods, and a vermicompost bed in the paths for them to scratch up.
 
Leah Sattler
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I can't remember where this came up on this forum and I was planning on taking the time to come up with a link to refute it and now I can't figure out where the thread was that had stated it. for anyone interested....

turkeys (domestic ones) won't "drown" in the rain. whenever I hear this I think...."gee that has to be one of the most assanine proposals I have ever heard that people still believe!"

no the super best source but fine for this purpose
http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/turkey.asp
 
Jennifer Smith
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Very good link Leah.

I have had more years with wild turkey than domestic...for the same reason no longer keep indoor birds, the mess. 

If I put up with that kind of mess, turkeys, I would go for the giant pheasant (otherwise known as peafowl)... and I may again. 

I know I will get geese for the orchard again.  Geese are handy, useful, animals.  Messy if not managed.
 
Leah Sattler
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how noisy are turkeys? I like my guineas and their scratchless foraging, except the dang things had such a propensity to assualt my ears I got rid of them. I wish now I would have butchered them to get a taste.
 
                          
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Location: Western Washington
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Turkeys can be noisy.  Especially when they start associating you with food.

Every time you poke your head out the door, you'll be greeted with "gobble. gobble, gobble." 

If you have only a few, though, it shouldn't be too bad and I don't remember them being nearly as bad as the guineas.

Of course, guineas see danger in everything and, being the good watchbirds they are, let you know.

Turkeys make their noise at certain times, guineas are much more consistent.
 
Jennifer Smith
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I admit I have never raised the white turkeys, some black, some blue, and some burbons were my trials.  Not as big as the white but reputed to be smarter and better foragers. 

They were needy birds, always following me around and making a mess.  Waited for me as close to the front door as they could, making a mess.  "look at me"  "look at me" "see what I can do"  Loved to be talked too and enjoyed extra milk as did chickens and geese.  I may even have a photo of the fowl enjoying a bowl of milk, hope it is not too big.  Not liking vista, missing xp and my photo editor.
May 27th 029.jpg
[Thumbnail for May 27th 029.jpg]
 
                          
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Location: Western Washington
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I used to raise my meat birds with extra milk, too.

One year, when I had a lot of extra milk and was raising a large number of turkeys for sale, I had some very happy customers.  The turkeys came out wonderfully moist and tender.

They loved the milk and their heads would disappear into it!

I've only raised the productions - the whites and bronze - but I'm planning on getting into the Bourbon Reds eventually.  My son's cross country coach told me last night there is a guy around here who raises them; before that, I thought I was going to have to travel several counties to the north to get some.

A month or so ago, at the small livestock sale, a full-grown B.R. tom went for ten bucks!  I wanted him so bad but I'm not set up yet for my turkeys - especially an adult.
 
Jason Long
Posts: 153
Location: Davie, Fl
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Anyone have any links, or know what type of fodder to plant for turkeys? They recently realized I have some nice young veggies started and one hopped over their pen area to come and give it a taste.

I would like to be able to plant some edibles all around their pen and inside (as it is a pretty large area) so they can enjoy it more than they enjoy my veggies
 
Brian Bales
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I had some very negative childhood memories of turkeys but I have since raised them and really enjoyed having one around (now that I am bigger than they are). IMO they are the best tasting of the poultry breeds and fairly hearty if you go with the heirloom breeds. This year I plan to raise a group of narragansetts. I figure I will put up 6 birds. From them I will cull 3 and keep 1 tom and 2 hens for breeding stock. Narragansetts are very colorful and very hearty. They are also consistently selected as one of the best tasting breeds.

As for fodder there is a lot of options many of which I will be trying out this year. I plan to raise mine free range in the orchard with my geese so they will get pleanty of tasty things to pick at and hopefully keep pests to a minimum. I am going to be planting perennial clover as a forage crop in the orchard. I also am going to plant dundale peas and perennial ground plums around the trees as additional fodder for the turkeys with the added bonus of being a nitrogen fixer for the trees.

Fordhook giant chard, pumpkins, sorghum, millet and many other items all make great food for turkeys. Really anything the chickens like turkeys are pretty happy with too. Another great food option is black soldier fly larva. I plan to build my own BSF compost bin this year and use the larva as supplamental feed for my chickens, turkeys and guineas.

Lastly depending on where you live there are a great deal many foragable tree crops available. In my area there are an abundance of acorns. Turkeys supposedly love acorns and will happily eat them. So I plan to gather as much as I can. You can also use mesquite, memosa, honey locust or carob beans if its in your area.
 
Marc Flora
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Location: Helena, Montana
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Jason

Perhaps my experience this last year with turkeys will be of some help to you. 

I started with 15 birds and 13 made it to maturity.  We have a short green season here.  The turkeys ranged over the two acre edible forest garden.  We strung some low chicken wire around the important veg beds and had wire wrapped around the baby trees.  So, the turkeys had access to about 1.75 acres.  Much of this is in native grass.  The turks ate plenty of the grass when it was tender and then dined on the seed heads as they matured.  I've planted alfalfa and white clover throughout the EFG.  They really enjoyed the clover and alfalfa, keeping the place mowed.  Of course, they were on the hunt for grasshoppers all the time and had a dramatic impact on the bug population.

My recommendation would be to plant legumes for your birds.  You'll build soil and they'll love them.

I had a small patch of corn planted in white clover living mulch.  When the corn (variety with very short stalks) was about two feet high I let the turkeys into the fenced area.  They ate the clover right down and barely touched the corn.  In the process they got the hoppers out of the corn.

The turkeys got into a hulgulkulture I had planted with a variety of stuff.  They ate the onion tops and potato greens but ignored the fava beans and the miners lettuce.  They ignore grapes.  They like - it seems - broccoli over other brassicas.

The turkeys that survived the harvest are getting hay in their diet every day - a mix of alfalfa and grass.  It cuts way down on the grain - and it gives them something to do.

The EFG is surrounded by 8 ft. graphite deer fence which the turkeys flew over easily.  They would forage for bugs and then fly back. 

Unlike the geese, the turkeys showed no interest in consuming the baby trees.

I hope this helps.

Marc
 
Brad VanDyke
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How does one integrate standard breed turkeys with a permaculture homestead? It would seem to be impossible without extensive fencing around the garden or the birds, otherwise the birds would eat the garden.
 
Cj Sloane
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You do need fencing.
Why do you need a standard breed?
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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