How come Raise the finest Turkeys

Have you ever wondered what it would be prefer to progressive turkeys on your homestead? perhaps you’ve heard the these birds are so stupid the they will drown in the rain or the they room very an overwhelming to raise. Not true! I’ve had very great results in elevating my own turkeys for meat… and also so deserve to you.

There space a couple of things to take into consideration before you get started and place an order for infant turkeys. This overview will offer you the basics for gaining started, raising, and also processing your very own turkeys.

You are watching: What to feed turkeys to fatten them up

You may be interested in my article “Keeping A mixed Flock: have the right to You keep Chickens & Turkeys Together?”

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Heritage turkey poults hanging in your Redneck Brooder Box.

Start v the finest Turkey Poults

Many hatcheries offer day-old turkeys, also known together ‘poults,’ in the spring and also early summer. There are a range of breeds available, including heritage turkeys and large breasted hybrids. Large breasted white turkeys room the kind you discover in the meat ar at the grocery store.

Some hatcheries point out a minimum order of 15 to maintain the important warmth for shipping. Girlfriend could break-up an order with friends or neighbors if you don’t wish to raise that many.

Feed stores often have special ‘chick day’ occasions in the spring when you might order just a couple of chicks, ducklings, and turkey poults at a time. Permit a minimum the 3 1/2 month from hatching to handling for large breasted turkeys or 6+ months for most heritage breeds.


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BB White and Bronze poults.
What sort of Turkey need to I Order?

If you room interested in keeping a i cry of turkeys come hatch your eggs and also raise poults every year, stimulate a heritage breed of turkey. Heritage breeds include Bourbon Red, royal Palm, black Spanish, Blue Slate, White Midget, and Narragansett turkeys. Legacy breeds room able to mate naturally and also may be kept as breeding stock for future generations.

The turkeys you discover in the grocery store store space the vast breasted white turkey, which grows larger and has an ext breast meat than heritage breeds. Because these turkeys have so muchbreast meat, lock can’t girlfriend naturally. The masculine is unable to efficiently mount the female. The turkey industry has actually selectively bred through artificial insemination for larger and larger birds. I have read one anecdotal account the young toms to be able come mate before they grew too large. Ns can’t check this.

If you great to advanced turkeys as financially as feasible and butcher the entirety flock in ~ the end of the season, the BB white is the finest option. I’ve increased BB turkeys and processed castle myself for years. The largest weighed roughly 25 pounds as soon as dressed in ~ 4 months. They were elevated on pasture v meat producer feed totally free choice as soon as they were able to forage for bugs and also other sources of protein.

For Turkeys with “Best Dressed” Appearance…

As you think about which each other of turkey come raise, keep in mind that turkeys with darker colored feathers room harder to clean 보다 white birds. It is very daunting to get all of the dark-colored pigment indigenous the feather shafts washed out of the skin. Therefore if the presentation is necessary to you, look because that a breed through light-colored feathers.

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Cost that Turkey Poults

The price of day-old heritage turkeys begin at $11+ and wide breasted (BB) room usually $7+. The ideal price i have discovered online is through Sunnyside Hatchery in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. They offer BB Whites for $5.25 each for straight run poults. (2020 price catalog… I carry out not do a commission.)

Shipping is commonly extra. In mine area, over there is a farm yard that orders big numbers of BB turkeys at a reduced price. So check on Craigslist or v your local expansion office to see if over there are any farms that offer poults because that 4H clubs or local farmers.

Because turkeys lay few eggs, largely in the spring, accessibility may be limited (especially for heritage breeds) and the cost is higher. The invest is considerable, therefore be sure you have feed and also the suitable brooding area collection up in advancement for finest results.

If you’re tho not certain what breed of turkey to raise, inspect out my short article ‘Broad Breasted vs Heritage: What’s the ideal Turkey for your Homestead?’


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I permit the youngsters forage in mine garden till they began squishing mine plants. This is a BB White…they were just as energetic as the legacy poults.

How to care for Turkey Poults

Providing suitable care for your young turkeys is usually the same as caring because that chicks. There room a couple of differences, so be sure to check out through this tips:

Dip your beaks in water come teach them come drinkIf the don’t eat on your own, add finely chopped greens to their feedGive lock chick grit to aid them digest your foodGive castle enough an are in your brooder to move around and find a comfortable temperatureDo not use newspaper or any type of other slippery material to line the bottom that the brooder together these can reason ‘spraddle leg,’ a condition that avoids them native walking properlyKeep the temperature in ~ 95 F because that the first week, then alleviate by 5 degrees each week until they are completely feathered outAdd probiotics to their water or offer them chick grit v probioticsAfter 2 or 3 days, add electrolytes to your water to offer them extra nutrientsFeed poults a high protein video game bird feed with 28% protein

These are the basics that caring for infant poultry. Psychic to inspect on her babies often. If they room crowded under the warm lamp and also piling on height of each other, they room too cold. Be sure there are no drafts come chill them and their water food is not deep enough for castle to loss in and also drown.

If you are having problems with sick or weak poults, please describe my short article ‘How to treatment for a ailing Chick.’


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This young tom is already strutting!

The cost of increasing Turkeys

If you room hoping to save money on her Thanksgiving bird by elevating it yourself, friend are most likely to it is in disappointed. When turkeys go on sale for the holidays, the is common to uncover them priced therefore low that homegrown birds can’t compete.

However, if you raise your very own grain and your birds space able come free-range for some of their food, friend may have the ability to save money on raising them. I have actually read the heritage turkeys deserve to forage for much of their nutritional needs when permitted enough room come roam. Be mindful that predators enjoy a turkey dinner as much as you do!

In 2012 I increased 16 vast Breasted turkeys and processed them at home. The total cost come to roughly $1.20 per pound. This price was based on pastured birds raised with a standard meat producer feed. At the time, i was payment from $14.99 come $16.99 every 50 pound bag the feed. I was able to purchase many of the feed on sale because that the reduced price. (Note: this was the price for day old poult in ~ $3.50 each plus feed, the does not include the price of electricity for the warmth lamps and pumping water, hay or other bedding, or processing.)

Update: I have actually raised BB turkeys again due to the fact that then and the price was about $1.09 every pound. In 2012 the expense of feeding was greater for a number of reasons, including a substantial number of brand-new chicken keepers gotten in the market, and also biofuel manufacturing was consuming much of the corn and also soybean harvests. The expense of meat producer feeding at our neighborhood farm supply store is currently $13.59 every 50-pound bag of meat producer 22% protein.

The price of elevating your Thanksgiving turkeys counts on exactly how much feed and bedding you can raise and the expense of feed at the time of purchase.


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Feeding frenzy.

What have to I feed My Turkeys?

When you bring home young turkey poults, their an initial food must be a high protein ration v 28 – 30% protein (look because that a turkey starter feed or game bird feed) to fuel their rapid growth.

At 8 weeks, many turkey growers switch their birds end to a 20-22% feed. By the time they space 14 mainly old, turkeys can be enabled to find an ext of their own food by foraging, if you have actually the room. You have the right to switch them come a grower feed with around 18-20% protein and a couple of scratch grains and also field peas top top the side. Usage cracked grains and also give them a food of grit to help their digestive solution utilize their feed fully.

About 2 or 3 weeks before butchering, include extra carbohydrate to their feed to help fatten castle up because that the table. Toss in overfill or bug-infested apples, tomatoes, and also other develop to clean up your garden and save money on feed.

This can sound a bit complicated, and also you may discover that it is an overwhelming to locate a feed mill v the various formulas offered by the advertising turkey growers.

I discovered that beginning my young turkeys on video game bird feed because that the first month, then switching end to meat producer feed provided them with enough nutrition to reach a pretty butchering size. Lock were provided cracked corn together a treat and also they had pasture because that foraging.

After the initial month, i don’t issue too much about the extra protein that was recommended because I wasn’t looking for the faster growth, biggest dressing weight, or cheapest birds. If this are pertains to for you, I would recommend finding a resource for a 28% protein feeding for your flock.

Note:These feeding instructions are based upon achievingthe best weight get for the cost. If girlfriend are elevating heritage birds because that breeding, you’ll should follow a various feeding program.


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You’re walk to perform what come us?!

How long Does it require to Raise a Turkey?

If girlfriend are increasing BB turkeys, they will certainly reach butchering weight quicker than a legacy breed. I found that in about 3 1/2 months ns had broad Breasted turkeys that dressed the end at about 12-14 pounds. After ~ 4 1/2 come 5 month they dressed the end in the 15-19 lb range.

If they had been maintained on higher protein feed, the weights would have been higher. (Update: i have since raised BB turkeys ~ above 22% meat producer feed and had castle dress out at as much as 25 pounds in 4+ months.)

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How to process Your Turkeys

If you intended to market turkeys it is very important to inspect your state and local laws around selling residence butchered poultry. Countless states carry out not allow poultry to be butchered top top the farm and you need to send them to a processing plant wherein the pull birds space inspected. Expect to salary upwards of $5 every bird for handling fees.

Because my household is working towards a self-reliant lifestyle, we procedure poultry because that our own consumption.

For finish instructions on processing turkeys, inspect out my post, how to Butcher a Turkey.

I discover that processing a turkey is a little more challenging than chickens. Turkeys space heavier and feistier than chickens. Lifting a live turkey can be pretty tough on her back. I put my birds into a feeding bag with a hole cut in one edge for the head to poke with to aid restrain them because that slaughter. Then ns chop the head off with a hatchet.

You may pick to put the bird into a killing cone and also nick the arteries in the neck to bleed it to death. I feel that severing the spinal column is much more humane, however, some human being feel that this doesn’t allow the heart enough time to pump the blood the end of your circulatory system. I didn’t discover this to it is in a problem.

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Preparing her Turkey because that Cooking and Freezing

After processing your turkey, be sure to allow it come sit for 24 come 48 hours in the refrigerator. Skip this step will make the bird tough. Try soaking her bird in a brine systems overnight for the most tender and also juicy meat.

If you plan to freeze her turkey, arrangement ahead and purchase freezer bags the are big enough to organize your birds. Clean the bird thoroughly, choose the pin feathers, and rinse. Ar the neck, gizzard, liver, and also heart in the body cavity, if girlfriend wish, then location in a very huge freezer bag or a shrink wrap bag created freezing turkeys.

See more: Why Does Thoreau Leave The Woods ? What Did He Learn? Access Denied

Plan ahead and remove your turkey from the freezer far enough in advancement to permit it to thaw completely before cooking.

Have you ever raised your own turkeys? go you procedure them yourself? Please leave a comment!