Our grandfather holds broiler chickens and ducks in his yard, and turkeys occupy the majority of the poultry yard. The turkeys won such a special attitude for good reason, because at grandfather they grow up of incredible size! That is, the yield of meat from one bird is much greater compared to duck or chicken. Our grandfather supplies children and grandchildren with environmentally friendly meat, and recently orders from outsiders began to arrive on turkey poultry. Looking at his successes, fellow villagers also tried to take care of turkeys, but their birds grow much smaller. What are the secrets to successfully raising turkeys? I'll tell you in my article.Secrets of breeding turkeys from our grandfather.
The breed is important!
One of the secrets of grandfather is choosing the right breed. In his opinion, the best turkeys for meat is a breed, or rather, the so-called "cross" (hybrid) of the English selection BIG-6. A distinctive feature of this bird: pure white plumage, bright red skin of the head and neck, as well as an impressive size.
The average weight of the male is about 25 kilograms (although individual specimens can weigh 40). In this case, turkeys reach several smaller sizes - 10-11 kilograms. The biggest grandfather turkey pulled 21 kg of clean meat per kilogram in 6 months of growth. Of course, white turkeys are not as bombastic dandies as their colorful counterparts. But still, such birds are not peacocks, and external beauty is not the main criterion for choosing a breed.
By trial and error, the grandfather came to the conclusion that cross-country BIG-6 turkeys are the most suitable option for growing for meat, and now prefers only them. Motley turkeys, he said, create many problems with their aggressive disposition. They constantly arrange fights both among themselves and with their white-painted brothers. And BIG-6 turkeys are more balanced and calm.
When to buy turkey poults?
Grandfather goes for small chicks in mid-April. At the time of purchase, the age of turkeys is one day. More adult chicks are much more expensive and impractical to buy.
Of course, when raising turkeys for meat, the males have an advantage, since they will grow much larger. However, the gender of turkey poults at this age is almost impossible to distinguish, and most often the ratio of turkeys and turkeys in the purchased brood is approximately 50 to 50.
Buying turkey poultry with a large margin is not worth it, since with proper care, they die in very small quantities. Most often this happens if the turkey is injured and breaks its leg or wing.Turkey-hybrids of the English selection BIG-6.
How to care for chicks?
Nursing poultry is the most crucial moment, so it is very important to create all the necessary conditions for the chicks. The main requirements during this period are: temperature + 35 ... + 37 ° С and dryness, since diseases can develop in dampness. Grandfather turkeys are kept in a special building, like an aquarium without a lid, over which an infrared lamp works around the clock to maintain the right conditions. Since the street is too cold at this time, you have to keep small poultry in the living room. In such conditions, chicks are kept for a month.
The main nutrition of turkey poults of the first month of life: a specialized starting compound feed. From the third day you can enrich the diet with boiled fish and various herbs: nettle, green onions, garlic leaves.
After a month, the turkey poults move to the street. At the beginning, a corral is constructed for them like a small greenhouse with a roof. And after they are fully strengthened and grown up, young animals are transferred to a spacious aviary.
Free range - required
A turkey is not a bird that can be kept in a closed barn, such as broiler chickens. Grandfather turkeys are in the most volatile conditions that poultry can have. A spacious enclosure with an area of 50 by 50 m for 25-30 birds was organized for them. There, turkeys can walk freely, in the heat, relax in the shade of trees and even take a bath.
Too high fencing for turkeys is not required, and you can limit yourself to a net height of 1.5-2 male growth, these birds have never tried to fly over the hedge.
For some time, grandparents have ducks as neighbors of turkeys. Such a neighborhood does not cause stress neither the first nor the second, because ducks are always aloof, and turkeys show neither interest nor aggression in them.
Despite the relatively calm nature of BIG-6 turkeys, approximately from the end of summer males begin to fight for females. To avoid this, the grandfather begins to chop females a little earlier - in early September (especially since turkeys stop weight gain before males).Grandfather turkeys are in the most volatile conditions that poultry can have.
Every evening, as soon as the sun sets, grandfather drives the turkeys to sleep. The nature of turkeys is such that they cannot arrange evening walks, since, like chickens, they are poorly seen at dusk.
For an overnight stay there is a reliable barn with perches, since turkeys prefer to sleep on a raised platform. By the way, a sign that the birds have time to sleep, is the fact that they themselves begin to perch somewhere higher. It is undesirable to leave turkeys overnight in a street aviary, because at night it can rain, thunderstorm or a predator sneak up.
The morning of the turkeys begins at dawn at 4-5 in the morning, at which time the grandfather again releases the turkeys into the fresh air.
Feeding in adult turkeys begins immediately after waking up with breakfast (usually this is stewed food from the evening). And during the day, grandfather sprinkles birds with food regularly as they eat. At the same time, every two hours you should check whether the birds were left without food.
Although ready-made feed is also sold for turkeys, grandfather uses compound feed only when feeding turkey poults. Adult turkeys get naturally varied food from him. In addition to the grass, which they freely eat in the aviary, their diet is: crushed (steamed crushed corn, wheat, sunflower meal). In addition to cereals, they get beet tops, young peas and zucchini, chalk and eggshells.
Grandfather is also an avid fisherman and shares part of his catch with turkeys. Birds are happy to eat chopped fish. Such top dressing is a source of phosphorus. Nevertheless, a turkey is not a waterfowl and does not feed on fry in nature. Therefore, you should not abuse such an additive. Fish for turkeys is used as a natural vitamin-mineral supplement to the main diet.
When to chop?
After turkeys are 100 days old, cross-country BIG-6 turkeys stop weight gain. Grandfather usually cuts the bulk of turkeys in the period from late September to early October.
The yield of meat for the carcass of this breed of turkeys is very high 70-80%. Turkey meat tastes good and is considered dietary. You can use it in almost all meat dishes (soups, meatballs, chops, ravioli and so on).
Based on the description of the breed, very soft down cross BIG-6 is also valuable and can be used for the manufacture of pillows. However, the grandfather did not notice such features, noting only that, unlike chickens, the plumage of turkeys does not have “hemp”, it is convenient to pinch them, and the feathers go well on floats.By evening, turkeys begin to look for a place higher.
A few words about the nature of turkeys
Turkey, like most representatives of poultry, is not famous for its special mental abilities. But turkeys are pretty funny birds. When meeting with something unfamiliar, turkeys perceive this as a potential threat and take on a warlike appearance.
The combat readiness of males is especially clearly visible. An agitated turkey begins to resemble its close relative, a peacock: it opens its tail wide like a fan, and ruffles its feathers to make it appear larger. At the same time, the head of the turkey changes color: the skin becomes even redder, and in places it even turns blue, until the appearance of purple hues.
In response to loud noises, turkeys begin to scream simultaneously. And if you turn to them in a loud voice, you get the impression that they maintain a dialogue with the interlocutor, which from the outside looks funny. In general, turkeys are not afraid of people, they recognize their master, but they can take food from the hands of an unfamiliar person.
Read our Goat Compound article - 5 tips for beginners.
Dear readers! If you are still thinking about whether it is worth getting turkeys for meat, first of all you need to have a good idea if you can adjust your life to the needs of the bird, because turkeys require a lot of attention and a clear schedule. Turkeys will not let you go on summer vacation and will not give you a day off. But if you are industrious, like our grandfather, then you can certainly succeed. Good luck to you!