I would like my next batch of turkeys to be able to wander freely in the yard but go back into their house at night to be safe from predators. My current turkeys will not go back into their house. They have to be caught and put back in.
These are Royal Palms. Are these particularly stupid turkeys? Should I try a different breed? Or any hints how I can train the young ones to go back inside?
The present turkeys have a mobile pen, but they would not go back inside, ever. Instead they would sit down next to it. So they are confined to the pen, which is moved every other day. The next batch of young turx I would like to be free-range. I would prefer them to go into a house at night, because we have a lot of predators (especially raccoons).
I would say there is something about the tractor they really don't like. Maybe you will have better results with a house on the next batch.
Turkey's use running, flying and high perching for protection - you could always give them a run at roosting in a tree and see how it goes with the raccoons. You may have to train them to get started - At dusk toss them into the tree you want, and see how it all works out.
I'm not trying to be flippant here or inconsiderate of your situation. It's just that where I live we are over run with wild turkeys, and raccoons - and the system of roosting high up in trees works for them. They have no raccoon problems once they are past the chick stage. Should something start to climb the tree the birds just fly out into other trees or a great distance away, and then up into something else.
This flying - running - roosting combo is all they need to stay out of reach of the coons. However, dogs can run faster than coons so that's a whole different story.
I've noticed that chickens do not pick big trees and work their way to the top like turkey's do - it's really something to watch the wild turkeys at dusk. So for free roosting chickens - I might add a watch dog just to give the coons more discouragement. This would also work for turkeys - a bird friendly dog with yard access will help keep the coons away.
I believe in the system the turkey's have going and this is why I'm suggesting working with the turkey's natural instinct, might be easier than building a house just now.
Or you could try some delicious food to entice them into the tractor, but I don't consider this a solution much, because it still involves you to work.
I have had much success with bird training, especially when I'm working with their natural instincts. I sounds like your current turkeys are trained to stay close to the ground/tractor so you'll need to teach them a new routine. At dusk toss them up at the branches, each morning call them with food. If your feeding them make sure that they run out of tractor-food well before dusk so there is no reason to hang around the old place. I would think they would catch on fast.
I've had chickens left out in the grass past dark that made it up into trees with branches starting at 6' and from there over a distance until they were in the trees over their fenced off chicken run-house. Once in these familiar trees, in the run area they didn't bother to come down and go into the house. It was a trick to get them to stop this once they had done it. Tree roosting is just more natural.
Cool I've seen a couple of situation where tree-roosting was used for chickens when they were being raised free-range in a large area close to the house and out buildings. When hand raised there was no problem with them leaving.
I'm sure this won't work in every situation, like when wanting to rotate your birds often, but it sure saves on coop cleaning when it does.
I'm REALLY nervous about trying this. I'm afraid they'll just get killed out there.
posted 10 years ago
Im nervous about it as well. For a long time we had two large (100lb) dogs and did a good job of keeping raccoons away. Both of those dogs have died. It's been a few months now and I think the raccoons may take notice soon. I do have a goat... not sure if that helps or hurts my situation.
Well you know best, and so much depends on your situation.
If there are a lot of coons ~ and scarce food sources for them ~ and taking you on isn't scary to them, then building a new house may be the solution. I just have a personality that wants to retrained any wildlife which wants to have a go at me or my animals, but that's just me.
I don't even get raccoons around my place in the winter, but in the summer I hear them and run out in the night picking up my high power jet hose on the way and blast them out of my neighbors trees. I've never had one even test out my yard ~wicked grin~. A skunk did one year and we blasted him so good, right in the pie hole, he's never been back since. But then, they all have easier pickings in other yards around here so they move on. May not be the case in your situation. But if you can make your situation just not worth it for marauding animals they will get the message.
They train black bears in areas where houses butt up to national forest by having one person chase the bear until it takes to a tree and then the person throws rocks, yells, bangs pans against the tree just putting the fear of God into that bear. Since they have started this program they have had no reports of bear troubles, it's just not worth it for the bears.
When it comes to livestock I do like dogs as backup when detouring other dogs, raccoons and opossums
I have come to a compromise - build a new house. The problem with the present house is the turx don't seem to understand the concept of the door. Instead of going in, they sit down next to it. So I'm going to put fold-up sides on a similar field house so they don't have to mess with the door. Then when they have gone in for the night I can fold down and latch the sides.
We'll see if it works!
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