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Shepherds Hill Homestead » Livestock, Turkeys » Turkeys

Turkeys

Raising Turkeys

 

This endeavor was another one of my long term dreams.  We had raised chickens for many years and I had read so many things about what a daunting task it is to raise turkeys that I admit I was a bit put off.  But not being one to shirk a challenge, we began to pray for the information we needed and the place to keep them.  Then naturally, for healthy stock that would provide us with the “Ma and Pa” of the operation. It was about 4 years ago that the desire became strong enough to not be ignored any longer. 

 As usual, the starting place for us was to get information.  There were innumerable websites with resources, photos, and intensive breeding information that we researched.  I must admit that I printed out reams of paper so that I could add it to my “Livestock” notebook.  (You do know that one day we will probably not have the Internet anymore and we won’t be able to just click on and get the info.  So hardcopy is always preferable!)

 We also used our tried and true bookshelf resources: Reader’s Digest “Back to Basics”, Carla Emery’s “Encyclopedia of Country Living”, and various and sundry other books and magazines.  I am thankful that the Lord has provided so many places where we can glean the knowledge that we need to provide for our family!!

 Okay – once we felt like we had enough of a grasp on how to raise our turkeys, we needed a place to put them.  It is very important to remember to NEVER bring livestock home unless you have a good, safe place for them to live and food and water to give them.  I do think that so many folks nowadays find a good “deal” without ever thinking through what the needs are. 

 Our barn has four large stalls – three in a row across the front and one in the back on the side.  Paul’s blacksmith shop is on the back on the other side. It was decided that we would use an already established fence line that ran about 15 feet to the side of the barn and directly across the back as the boundary of the turkey pen.  Then we could use one of side stalls as the interior coop and just enclose one side with more fencing and this would give them a nice large area for outside and a small door cut in the side of the barn to the inside.  We enclosed half of the stall on the inside so that we could still make use of half the stall for other purposes.

 One thing that we did on the outside area was to cover the top with chicken wire.  Due to the fact that we live in a portion of a National Forest, we have a lot of wild animals roaming the area – everything from coyotes to cougars to raccoons.  Hawks are also VERY common and I couldn’t bare to lose any babies to a hawk, much less a big Tom to something more fierce.  Through the years of selling off-spring we realize that keeping the turkeys fully enclosed was inspired by God.  Many of the folks that have bought young poults have come back to buy more because they let them wonder and something got them or they wondered off. 

 Turkeys are no more stupid than any other animal on the farm.  I can remember people telling me that turkeys are so stupid that if they are left out in the rain that they will open their mouths and look up to see where the rain is coming from and drowned.  Others also told us how turkeys are the meanest birds on the farm and will attack with no warning.  And last but not least, that you cannot keep turkeys anywhere near chickens because the turkeys will get a disease from the chickens and it will wipe out your whole flock. (If you bring in chickens from another flock you do run the risk of also bringing in disease.  This is something that could be a problem unless you raise your own chickens from your own flock and you know they are disease free.)  Well, here we are four years later and we haven’t lost one turkey to drowning in the rain. ;-)) Our chickens scratch in the same areas with the turkeys and not one turkey has died or even become sick from disease, nor have we EVER had a turkey even act vicious.

 So there ya go~

 Okay, back to the turkey pen.  Inside the coop area Paul placed a roost about 2 feet off the ground.  We have tried to maintain about a foot to 14 inches of roost space per bird.

Paul also built a two nest nesting box that sits on the ground inside the coop.  The nest compartments are approximately 2 feet by 2 feet.  We give them fresh hay from time to time so that they have materials to pad their nests.

 Next in our preparations was feed and water supply.  Paul constructed a feed bin so that we could just flip a section of the back and then we could pour an entire bag of feed into the hopper at one time. I will include a photo of the feed bin on this page.  As to water – we have a 5 gallon double wall fount waterer.  This is checked and refilled every morning.

 As to feed, we use cracked corn, hay, scratch and layer pellets.  Our turkeys thrive on what we are giving them so we see no need to purchase anything else.  We do keep oyster shell in the coop so they can help themselves and it seems to work well.  Each spring, the hens begin laying and will brood at least two nests each.  We have two adult hens now and two more that will be mature enough to lay this spring.  It is not our desire to keep a large flock of turkeys, so any poults that we do not need are sold.

Raising turkeys has been one of those projects that has proven to be a source of joy and contentment.  We decided on the Heritage Bronze turkeys because they are so easy and in our opinion, absolutely beautiful.  If you have never heard the gentle sounds that contented turkeys make then you are really missing something.  I had never heard the cooing sound and it is amazing how soothing it is to the soul.  Paul and I love to go down and let them out of their pen and allow them to scratch around awhile and we just listen to them.  So peaceful and sweet. 

 I encourage you to get your pen ready and get you some turkeys.  They are a real blessing!

 
Angelia

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"It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." Lamentations 3:22-24

Filed under: Livestock, Turkeys

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