Breeding turkeys is an incredibly exciting activity that will give you pleasure and good mood. These tips will dispel your doubts and fears in the desire to do this business.
Description of chicks
Buying one-day turkeys is certainly economical, but also a tricky one. Such small turkeys are very sensitive and painful, therefore, in order to avoid the death of chicks, it is important to pay attention to their physical condition, to observe the appropriate conditions of keeping and feeding, which will be discussed below. Day-old chickens digest food very poorly, are prone to hypothermia, overheating and are very shy, you need to be very careful with them. Therefore, buying turkeys at the age of 6-7 weeks is the most optimal option. These chicks are already more resilient and much easier to adapt to new living conditions.
Turkey poults sleep a lot, and during short periods of wakefulness they are very active. Males are usually bolder than females, they are the first to stand up and approach food. If the bird is inactive, you need to pay attention to this and check if it drinks and eats enough. Also, the cause of excessive sleepiness in chicks can be various diseases, which are especially susceptible to turkeys at an early age.
In general, watching the transformation of small turkey poults into adult birds is an incredibly interesting and exciting activity. They are very sociable, inquisitive, and many of their actions will make you smile or even laugh.
Brooders and cages
You need to prepare carefully and in advance for the appearance of chicks on the farm. It is necessary to organize a place for them, which should be spacious, dry, warm (25-28 ° C), ventilated, but without drafts. In the first weeks of life, chicks sleep tightly to each other, in a small area, so you should pay special attention to their "sleeping place" . Wood shavings can be used as bedding, and sand can be used when the turkeys are 3 weeks old. It is easy to recycle and replace.
In addition to this, it is important to properly organize feeding and water supply. Brooders are used to transplant newborn turkeys. They are made in the form of cages in which the temperature regime, air humidity and lighting are automatically regulated. It's like a hen substitute. The cage can be single-tiered or multi-tiered. Young chicks are located on the upper shelves, and more adult ones on the lower ones.
There are a few things to look out for once the chicks are on your farm. After transportation, carefully inspect each of them, because transportation can be traumatic for them, moreover, it is severe stress for birds, and even more so for small chicks. Further, so that the chicks remember where their drinking bowl is - bring each of them to the drinking bowl and drink, lowering the beak into the water. Since transportation is very stressful, you should pay special attention to their appetite and condition for two weeks in order to avoid losses.
So that the poults do not injure each other, it is worth taking care of smoothing the corners of the turkey poultry, which contribute to the congestion and crush of birds. In order for the turkeys to stay close to the feeders and drinkers, it is advisable to create a round enclosure around them, placing food and water in the center. In the future, it can be expanded as the chicks grow up, giving them more free space for movement. You will also need to hang a heat source in the cage to keep the chicks safe. It is very important to make sure that he is at a short distance from the place where he sleeps. In the future, when there is a need to cool the room, it is important to do this gradually, raising the heat source by a few centimeters every day and lowering the temperature by several degrees.
Feeders and drinkers
The cage should contain more than one drinker and feeder in different parts. To ensure that all birds have equal access to food and water, it is worth placing them evenly over the entire area. The water should be in a bowl with a narrow opening to prevent chick feathers from getting wet, as this can lead to hypothermia. Chicks still do not know how to eat properly, therefore, it is necessary to prevent bedding material from entering the feeder.
To do this, you can use a newspaper or fence the feeder with boards or cardboard.
Turkeys take some time to develop their immune system, so you should limit walking during the first eight weeks. Later, you can fence off the area adjacent to the closed cell, leaving them the opportunity to go outside. This leaves the chicks in a safe and warm place to return to when needed. Gradually, they will begin to go out, and their curiosity should be encouraged. To do this, you can place half of the drinkers and feeders outside. Soon, the chicks will begin to spend most of their waking hours outside, and then stay there overnight.
Most often, turkey poults are kept on the floor, while the area of the room is calculated based on age:
- chicks up to 2 months - populate 10 turkeys per 1 m²;
- up to 4 months - 6 individuals per 1 m²;
- over 4 months - 2 heads per 1 m².
This is a kind of floor that is made of galvanized mesh made of 2 mm rods. The cells are small in size. The mesh is stretched on a frame, which is placed half a meter from the ground. The frame is made of wood or metal. Next, a reinforced film is fixed over the cage. This type of cage allows you to increase the number of individuals per unit area (up to 20-40 chicks up to 2 months per 1 m²) and increase the comfort of keeping chicks.
The bedding material can be straw, wood shavings or sawdust. They must be dry, clean and not moldy. After three weeks of use, the litter needs to be changed, as it accumulates microflora that converts uric acid into ammonia, which has irritating properties. If this is not done, your chicks can get sick. There are already chemical additives that can be used to neutralize the negative effects of ammonia by adding them to the bedding material.
When choosing a room for adult turkeys, it is important to remember that although they are more resistant to cold, they are still sensitive to moisture and drafts. Such premises must be built on dry ground, they must be sealed to keep out rain and wind. All this will ensure safety for your pets.
Turkey cages can be placed inside a building or outside, under a building wall. This will create additional conveniences for moving them to the street.
Temperature and light conditions
Before taking turkey poults into your farm, everything should be prepared. You must have a warm place. If it is too cold, the chicks will clump under the heat source, and this can injure them. A thermometer is, of course, a useful tool for determining the right temperature, but it is much more important to pay attention to their behavior and condition.
To help the chicks get used to normal outdoor temperatures as they grow older, raise the heating lamp a few centimeters each week until the temperature in the cage is the same as outdoors or the chicks are 6 weeks old.
Feeders and drinkers must be correctly positioned in the cage. They should not be placed directly under the lamp or very far from it. Place feeders and drinkers so that chicks can easily reach them and do not get overcooled or overheated during feeding. Turkeys also need a lot of light. For the first week, keep a 100 watt lamp in the cage so the chicks can find food and water.
The light stimulates the thymus gland in chicks, which triggers the production of hormones that promote good health and proper growth in young birds.
How to walk turkey poults?
Turkey poults have weak immunity, so you need to gradually accustom them to the effects of external temperatures. By three weeks, in sunny weather, they can be taken outside, but so that the direct rays of the sun do not fall on them, you can go out under the porch or canopy. On cold and rainy days, turkey poults should not be released from an enclosed space at all, they can get wet and overcooled.
Before moving chicks outside to adult turkeys, make sure they are 8 weeks old and fully covered with feathers. Let them go outside, but do not remove the lamp from the cage for another week or two, and it is especially important that they have access to a warm room at night. After the chicks are finally relocated outside, check them every few hours at night for several days to make sure they are not cold.
Food for animals should be as close to natural and natural as possible. This method significantly increases the time to reach the desired poultry weight and improves the quality and taste of the resulting meat.
Naturally fed turkey meat becomes more nutritious, healthy and contains less water, and without antibiotics and hormones, it has no side effects when consumed. Also, the meat has a bright taste and anti-allergic effect. Poultry turkeys are usually fed pelleted feed with hormones and antibiotics. They rarely have access to natural food, as their diet already includes supplements of animal and vegetable protein and trace elements. Therefore, growing ideas at home is more beneficial.
As you know, the main food base of agricultural turkeys is grain - wheat, barley, corn, as well as potatoes, fruits and vegetables. Large amounts of green food (various types of plants, grasses and perennials), as well as products containing animal protein (larvae, insects and small vertebrates) are absolutely essential in the digestive process of poultry. The more varied the diet, the better the health of your pets. Birds that eat well have long, shiny feathers, a robust build, and a lot of energy.
The type of food to use depends on the age of the animals. In the first period of life, up to 3 months, chickens need to be given food purchased in a specialized store. Usually these are balanced ready-to-use mixtures containing essential trace elements and vitamins. It is important that the mixture is as loose as possible.
Turkeys prefer to nibble on shredded pieces of solid food, so ingredients like shredded corn and wheat can be added.
One of the best compound feeds is Purina. These feeds contribute to the rapid growth and good weight gain of birds, the development of healthy individuals. They contain probiotics that suppress pathogenic microflora.
You can also cook your own food. This will be, for example, pasta with apples and pumpkin, mashed corn, or barley porridge mixed with herbs and wheat. In addition to feed intended for young farm turkeys, chicks can also receive a mixture of minced yarrow, oatmeal, ground corn and white cheese. In the third week of life, you can replace yarrow with nettles or clover, which are much higher in protein. Crushed boiled eggs can also be given to young turkeys. The use of balanced feed in the first weeks of chicks life significantly reduces the risk of disease and mortality among the chicks. If their diet lacks a sufficient amount of protein, useful trace elements and vitamins, this can lead to lethargy and drowsiness, and later - to the death of birds.
There are many different types of poultry foods (medicated, non-medicated, starter) fortified with specific micronutrients. All this significantly complicates the choice of the buyer. Therefore, the main rule that you need to know in order to properly care for is that turkeys need more protein than other chicks. It is important to know that at the start of their life turkey poults are prone to "starvation" - some of them will deliberately avoid food and bypass the feeder when they are actually hungry. This can lead to the death of the chick. Therefore, watch each bird closely while feeding. Cage tightness can also indirectly affect exhaustion, so make sure there is enough room for the chicks. You will need at least 3x3 meters for a dozen turkeys.
As they get larger, they need more space, so you need to increase the size of the cage.
During the first few days of the chicks' life on the farm, you need to worry about the possibility of dehydration, chilling of birds, as well as accumulation of wet debris. These are the problems that most often lead to poor health and death of birds. Dehydration is the number one killer in the first three days of life. The best prevention is to simply dip each chick's beaks in water when you place them in the cage. This way most chickens will learn how to drink and then the rest will be taught. Check chicks every few hours for the first three days of life. If one of them seems lethargic, its beak should be re-dipped into the water to be sure that he drinks. It is necessary to constantly observe the drinking regime and a balanced diet recommended for different age categories.
In the first weeks, chicks, inadvertently, can eat wood chips or sawdust from the litter. To prevent this, it is recommended to place a newspaper under the feeders. Some people use boards or cardboard. This prevents bedding from entering the food trough.
Two-month-old birds can already receive a diet with a lower protein content. The kernels can be served with the same puree, but do not mix them because the chicks may choke. Oats and corn are excellent grains for turkeys. Oats help to strengthen bones, preventing their deformation, and is also a prevention of feather loss. Corn has a large number of beneficial trace elements. Birds also need to walk a lot so that they can get a taste of the wild and stay active and healthy.
Older chicks can be used as teachers for younger ones. They do not walk on the street yet, so they cannot infect kids with anything. They can help curious chicks know where to eat and where to drink. If you are raising several batches of turkey poults of different ages, then those who are 2-3 weeks older can already act as teachers. Day-old chicks perceive such teachers as mothers and try to follow their example.
Because turkey poults cannot eat straight away as easily as adult birds, feed should first be placed in low, easily accessible containers such as shoe box lids, egg cartons, paper plates, or even pie trays. Glass and marble containers are a great option for teaching turkey poults to feeders and drinkers. They can be placed in or above feeders and drinkers. Their shiny appearance will catch the attention of curious chicks. The marble should be removed when the chicks are 4-5 weeks old.
Congregation is a natural instinct for birds to get together, warm against each other, or feel safe. It also happens when chicks are too cold or when they are frightened by strangers, dogs, predators, loud noises or bright clothes. Use boards or cardboard to "round" the corners in the cage as part of preventing congestion. Rounding the corners gives fewer areas where chicks can be trapped. As a preventive measure, good lighting and heating lamps of the correct temperature are helpful.
When the chicks are warm, light and comfortable, they will not gather in groups, but will actively walk and sleep well.
Starting from the first week, most chicks will try to take off. Therefore, it is worth using a low couch where they can climb. It also helps to reduce crowding by reducing the number of birds on the floor at the same time. This couch can be a great place to sleep and relax. Make sure the heating lamp is not too close to it. Each bird needs 10 cm of space to sit. When wing feathers begin to grow in chicks, the perch should be gradually raised, every day by a few centimeters.
As you start raising turkey poults, you will start to notice that by the end of the first three weeks they will quickly become large and strong. Be prepared to change their feeders and drinkers for more spacious ones and increase their number, because the needs of the chicks will also increase dramatically.
Overall, the first three weeks of raising turkey poults are the most challenging and exciting. Make sure that their feeders are not full and that food does not spoil. To do this, empty and refill them once, or better twice a day.
Monitoring the condition and health of birds is a key element of successful breeding. Keep a close eye on your pets and spend more time with them, studying their habits and habits. And they will delight you.
In the next video, you will find a recipe for feeding turkeys up to 7 days old.