Turkeys

 

Breed We Have

The breed of Turkey we have here at Olive Tree Farm is the Black Turkey; otherwise known as “Black Spanish” or the “Norfolk Black”, which is a direct descendent of the Mexican turkey, brought to europe in the 1500s.

What They Eat

Turkeys are omnivorous; which means that they will eat a range of seeds, greens, nuts, small reptiles such as lizards or snakes, berries and other fruits as well as amphibians such as frogs and toads. We feed our turkeys mainly on a seed-and-greens diet, offering weeds as well, but turkeys do need more protein than chickens. In the summer here we get a lot of lizards and snakes roaming about – snakes being the bigger nuisance as they eat our smaller birds and animals – so the turkeys make an excellent pest-control.

Housing

The turkeys, like the chickens, are provided with a roosting area with a roof, once they are big enough and able to live outside. Within their house is also a nesting box. Ours aren’t old enough to nest yet, so we cannot tell if they are seasonal layers. Turkeys also require a place to dust bathe and roosting place for flying up into at night.

Brooding, Incubating & Poults

Brooding: A turkey hen will become broody once she has enough eggs to sit on, and this process will last up to 27-29 days. We will make sure that she has close access to clean water and food so she doesn’t have to go far from her nest. She will take care of everything. Just be sure that no other animals will approach to cause her stress, or she will destroy all of her eggs.

Incubating: Once you have enough eggs, put them in the incubator at 37.7 degrees celsius with a humidity of 45-55%. The eggs will need turning every 3-4 hours for 24 days – stop turning on day 25. Once you have stopped turning the eggs, raise the humidity to 55-65% and the poults will hatch between days 27-29.

Turkey number one just hatched

Poults: Once hatched, the turkey hen will care for them and teach them to feed and drink, and during the night they will gather under her for warmth. Just keep an eye on them but trust the mother hen to do her job. If they were hatched from an incubator, they will need to be moved to a brooder box – it will keep the poults safe, have either bedding to absorb wastes or a wire mesh floor to allow droppings to pass through, and a heat source. Fresh, clean water should be available to poults at all times. Baby turkeys need to eat turkey/gamebird starter mash or crumbles, a blend specially formulated for their growth and development.   Layer or breeder mash, crumbles, or pellets should never be fed to poults due to the high calcium content, which is toxic to them. Chick starter can be used to raise turkeys, with cautions:  It does not have enough proteins or vitamins for good development, so it will need to be supplemented.

Sexing Poults: You can easily sex newly hatched poults using this method. You pick up the poult gently, allowing the legs to dangle. If the feet dangle loosely, it is a female. If it brings its legs up, then it is a male.

Care & Maintenance

Their wings may need clipping occasionally, and access to clean water.  They are also very sociable animals so it is important to spend time with them. Turkeys are susceptible to the cold; make sure that you have a warm, dry & secure place for them during bad weather. Turkeys are susceptible to many diseases, so disease prevention is critical. Keeping them in a separate enclosure from other birds is important, and good hygiene is a must.

Illness, Problems & Treatments

Turkeys are very delicate birds – they are very prone to illness and disease, and there is so much to list that I may miss vital information out. To play it safe, I will revert you to this website. Again, if you have any questions on turkeys and you think we may be able to help you, feel free to contact us at olivetreefarmalmeria@outlook.com and we will do our utmost to help.

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