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Do I have enough room for turkeys?

 
Posts: 102
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
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Hi, all. I'm trying to determine whether I have enough space to raise four or five heritage turkeys each year. Turkey is my favorite meat, but I'm on 9/10th of an acre and not sure whether I'll have ample room to keep them healthy. We are planning on having four or five laying hens, about the same number of meat chickens, and a pair of Cotton Patch geese for nibbling down the grass (we hate mowing.) I've attached a pic of the property. Numbered areas are the growing beds I plan to put in. The pink and light blue areas are where I was thinking of putting in coops and runs. Red zone is compost. Green circles are fruit and nut trees I plan to plant. Blue areas will be swales and/or ponds.

As you can see, there are some big rocky outcrops on the property, which reduce growing space and pasture space but can still provide "running around space" for birds. We plan to use a tractor and portable fencing to move chickens (and possibly turkeys) around the property to pick through all the grassy areas.

Let me know what you think. Feel free to critique any other aspects of the setup, too. We're very new to permaculture and are trying to make educated guesses at this point. Any advice is welcome! Thanks!
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new garden plan
 
pollinator
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Not sure about space as such but I have been told the combination of turkys and chickens can be an issue .
 
Libbie Hawker
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Location: Friday Harbor, WA
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David Livingston wrote:Not sure about space as such but I have been told the combination of turkys and chickens can be an issue .



Yes, I've heard about that as well. My understanding is that as long as you're careful to get your chickens from verified blackhead-free properties, you'll be okay. My sister keeps turkeys and chickens together without any issues, but she has about two acres of pasture to play with!
 
pollinator
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Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
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I've got turkeys (down to 1), ducks (10) and chickens (10) on less than 1/4 acre under fruit trees. I do supplement feed with store bought pellets and a bunch of weeds, compost and sprouted wild bird seed. They seem happy as they could all fly away at any time  but don't, though 1 turkey did fly off after my dog helped me find her nest one too many times and now lives by our neighbourhood wetland. The spanish cross and other wilder types are excellent guard birds for raptors, though they produce much less meat per bird than highly bred varieties. They also choose to eat free range as a higher portion of their diet than do the chickens or ducks. I have not seen black head problems, and I allow all types of wild birds to come into their area, but they have ample space to spread out in the trees at night if they'd like and are never penned into a tight space, or any space at this point beyond my 5ft fence. Turkey eggs are the best too!
 
Ben Zumeta
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Check out what Sepp Holzer does with rocky outcroppings and pumpkins. The mass of the rocks will cause condensation and water accumulation at their base. They will also host lizards and other beneficials. You may even have some brooding birds in there.
 
pollinator
Posts: 526
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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I think you should be fine, though you might need to get a little creative with your space usage.  I'd suggest starting with five or six birds and just monitor the whole situation--if you start running out of space, consider thinning numbers.

As far as blackhead goes, it is a soil bacteria that may or may not be present where you live.  If it's not present, no problem.  If it is, maybe a problem.  I've had turkeys roaming all around on ground that chickens were on and never had a problem, because there apparently simply isn't blackhead here.
 
Libbie Hawker
Posts: 102
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
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Thank you so much for the info, everybody! I could use some raptor guard-birds, as raptors and foxes are the only predators we have here, but the raptors are pretty bad. (The bald eagles on this island love to pick off chickens, so I hear...)

I will definitely check out the pumpkin stuff, too! I love pumpkin and squash and plan to grow it anyway. I don't believe we have any lizard species on the island, but we do get big old newts and garter snakes! Good guys for the garden.
 
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