My cousin raised them just once. He said they were the dumbest bird he ever raised because you had to keep dipping the chicks beak in the water to show them how to drink and he also had one young turkey actually swallow a bee which stung it in the throat and it died. He never raised them again and just stuck to meat chickens, geese and pigs.

Heritage variety turkeys must meet certain criteria. For example, to be considered a heritage variety of turkey, a turkey must be able to mate naturally. Most of today's commercial turkeys are too big to breed naturally and must be bred through artificial insemination. Also, a heritage turkey must have a long, productive life span outdoors and a slow growth rate.

It is important to keep in mind that turkeys are very social animals, they love to be around people and can become very friendly if you take the time to make them so. In fact a friendly turkey is just as likely to following you around like a dog if you give them half a chance. Keep healthy treats on hand, this is the best way to tame your turkeys and ensure they will not wander.

We bought an adult Spanish breed heritage turkey & have him penned up until he acclimates & won’t fly away. How long until we can let him out with the chickens to free-range? BTW he likes to coop with the 32 chickens in either of the 2 rooms available. He roosts with them. The coops have a common 175 sq. foot area, with his own raised open water supply.

The congo peafowl looks like a juvenile Indian peafowl or maybe a cross between a peafowl and a Guineafowl. The Congo peafowl is thought to be the missing link between the peafowl and Guineafowl families.

Turkeys should be spread out and moving around comfortable if they are warm enough. If you find your poults spread out and as far against the walls of the enclosure as possible trying to get away from the heat lamp then they are too warm. Using a thermometer is a good idea, to monitor how far up to move the light when it is time, but do not rely on it, for your turkeys comfort, let them be your ultimate guide.

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Lighting manipulations used to optimise production can compromise welfare. Long photoperiods combined with low light intensity can result in blindness from buphthalmia (distortions of the eye morphology) or retinal detachment.

Wally at 6 months old is one BIG domestic turkey. Tundra and Tacoma the two Great Pyrenees are watching in on Wally.

A big male Eastern wild turkey, known locally as a “tom,” can weigh over 20 pounds. It is roughly half the size of its domestic counterpart. The hens are usually smaller, usually no more than 10 pounds.

An important distinction to understand is the difference between a commercial-type variety and a heritage variety. Commercial-type varieties have been bred specifically for commercial producers to address consumer preferences and production efficiency. Heritage varieties retain the characteristics of turkey varieties bred long ago in Europe and the early United States.

You could feed him a mixture between a layer pellet and a turkey grower. Turkeys do need more protein than chickens but a mixture should do fine to maintain weight.

This is the first time my husband and I are raising six 2week old baby turkeys and never seen the cooler of the one we got gray and whit and some black and some drown and yellow in them do you happened to know what kind of turkeys chicks they .thank you

Read more at our Wild Turkey page, or at this Smithsonian page, The Eat-ymology of the Turkey.

Domestic turkeys were taken to Europe by the Spanish. Many distinct breeds were developed in Europe (e.g. Spanish Black, Royal Palm). In the early 20th century, many advances were made in the breeding of turkeys, resulting in breeds such as the Beltsville Small White.

~~Turkey hens do not need turkey toms to lay eggs – they will produce eggs without a mate, but they won’t be fertile and cannot hatch.

We were fortunate we heard they were really dumb but never had any troubles with ours. We are butchering the first 2 of them today for thanksgiving. I have also heard that the heritage turkey breeds are quite a bit smarter than the white ones that are just for meat.

Several other birds that are sometimes called turkeys are not particularly closely related: the brushturkeys are megapodes, and the bird sometimes known as the "Australian turkey" is the Australian bustard (Ardeotis australis). The anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) is sometimes called a water turkey, from the shape of its tail when the feathers are fully spread for drying.

Ironically, peafowl are more closely related to Guineafowl than turkeys, so if any species should be confused with Guineafowl, it is the peafowl. Now, there is a missing link between the Guineafowl and peafowl. For decades, ornate feathers were coming out of Central Africa, and these were classified as peafowl by traders. However, taxonomists would say that these were imports from India that came through Africa. There was no such thing as an African peafowl.

Fig. 1. White Holland, Slate, Bourbon Red, and Royal Palm turkey varieties. Source: John Anderson, The Ohio State University.

The maximum recorded lifespan for a turkey in captivity is twelve years and four months. For turkeys living in the wild, the maximum is less than ten years, but the average life expectancy of a male turkey is just over 2 years and just over 3 years for females. Some domestic male turkeys often grow too large and too heavy to carry their own weight after their first year. Domestic turkeys bred for food consumption were not bred to live over one year.

Turkey care in the first few critical weeks is much the same as caring for chicks; they need warmth and lots of it. You should keep their brooder at 95 – 100 degrees for the first week then drop it by 5 degrees each week until they have all of their adult feathers. Many people fuss over this requirement a lot, worried that there will too much or not enough heat, but in reality it is a lot easier than most think.

Flock of wild turkeys spotted in central Pennsylvania, USA

Later on, when English settlers came to America, they were amazed to find the same birds running wild and free, and tasting really good thanks to their natural diet of chestnuts, beechnuts, walnuts, and other native mast. That is probably one of the reasons Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to serve as our national emblem—it’s a beautiful, genuinely American bird that tastes wonderful and had enormous economic value for the colonists.

Before you rush out and buy your turkeys there are a few things that you need to know about them, that will enhance your ability to take care of them.

Male domestic turkeys have been known to get as heavy as 86 pounds (40 kg).

The modern domesticated turkey descends from the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), one of the two species of turkey (genus Meleagris); however, in the past the ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata) was also domesticated. Despite the name, turkeys have no relation to the country of Turkey and are instead native to North America. The majority of domesticated turkeys have white feathers, although brown or bronze-feathered varieties are also raised.

Turkeys will take care of their own grooming needs. If you own wild turkeys and do not wish for them to fly away, their wings need to be clipped on a regular basis.

Domestic Turkey

Wild Turkeys (full grown) Weight: Males 8-24 pounds (3.6-11 kg), females 7-16 pounds (3.2-7.2 kg)

For more information, check out our article in Science Stories!

Recent genome analysis has provided researchers with the opportunity to determine the evolutionary history of domesticated turkeys, and their relationship to other domestic fowl.[14]

Interestingly, the turkey was thought to be the same species as the  helmeted Guineafowl, which was brought to England from the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). The helmeted Guineafowl are from Africa, but they were common as poultry in the Ottoman Empire. That’s why the scientific name for the turkey is Meleagris gallopavo, and the scientific name for the helmeted Guineafowl is Numida meleagris.  Meleagris refers to the Guineafowl.

The most critical time for your Turkeys is their first few weeks, they need meticulous care and careful monitoring to ensure the disease, the cold or predators do not take a toll on your flock. Poults like any other bird you raise need the proper heat, food and water, bedding and a draft free place to grow.

In the written memoirs of Lady Dorothy Nevill[20] she recalls that her great-grandfather Horatio Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford imported a quantity of the American turkeys[20] which were kept in the woods around Wolterton and in all probability were the embryo flock for the popular Norfolk turkey breeds of today.

If you plan to let your hens lay it is also important that they have access to grit and calcium, to help with egg production.

If you do not have an enclosure, a kiddy swimming pool make a good place to raise turkey poults, or you can fashion a area with cardboard boxes that will keep the draft off of them and keep them warm.

In commercial production, breeder farms supply eggs to hatcheries. After 28 days of incubation, the hatched poults are sexed and delivered to the grow-out farms; hens are raised separately from toms because of different growth rates.

These birds differ as much from the domestic birds as coyotes differ from St. Bernards.  The wild birds are cautious birds that will run or take flight from even the slightest disturbance.  The domestic birds are bred for such large breasts now that those that are factory farmed can no longer breed naturally. AI is the only way to produce many of the turkeys you buy in the supermarket.

So the number top breed in production now is the broad breasted white. It is been heavily inbred to produce much more meat on its breast. Because of this breeding, the genetic diversity of the domestic turkey is low.  Yes, we’ve screwed up yet another domesticated animal. Some small farmers are trying to stop this by breeding heritage turkeys.

*The breed of turkey you choose will have a lot to do with what they are best suited for. Be sure to take the time to research your breeds carefully and choose the breed that will best suit your needs.