While the turkeys were living all snug in their brooder for the first 7 to 8 weeks of their life, we were getting everything ready for them outside. Getting started with turkeys has taken a lot of time, but we are hoping that going forward, the majority of the work is done. Using scrap and recycled materials has helped to keep the cost down.
Handy Hubby built them a 4′ x 5′ house. It is made out of recycled materials – wood 2×4’s, metal studs, OSB plywood, and house shingles. The house is raised off the ground a couple feet, providing them shelter from the weather. I stained it with an outside deck stain. The turkeys are put in the coop at night and the door is locked to protect them from predators. During the day, the door is locked open.
We decided to use a corner of our pasture for the turkey yard. We connected to two sides of the cattle fence, adding chicken wire to the cattle fence for added security. We built the remainder of the fence using wood posts, scrap metal studs, left over metal posts, and chicken wire. The turkey yard measures 32′ x 32′.
We quickly learned that this was not tall enough. One evening they were perched on top of the fence. We have since added 5 feet tall goat fence to the outside of the already installed fenced area.
As broad breasted turkeys grow, they carry a lot of chest weight, making it hard for them to take flight. But, because of the ‘perched on the fence’ incident, we decided to take precautionary action. If done properly, clipping the wings does not hurt the bird.
To clip their wings, I held the turkey firm but gentle while Hubby clipped. Spread out their wing and look for the under wings. They should be a lighter color than the outside wing. They weren’t fully grown on our turkeys, so we cut what we could of the under wing, and also cut some of the outer wing. Make sure to inspect the feather, looking for blood veins. You don’t want to cut back that far.
Cutting only one wing puts the turkey off balance if it tries to take flight. If you trim both wings, they potentially could still fly, by just flapping harder.
FOOD and EXPECTANT WEIGHT
We are feeding our turkeys a meat bird crumble, made specifically for meat birds, such as turkeys and broiler chickens. This food provides our turkeys with balanced nutrition for healthy growth. We also feed them kitchen scraps – mainly greens and strawberry tops for now. The variety will increase as our garden matures.
At 24 weeks old, broad breasted turkeys should weigh between 16 – 25 pounds. (You can see the size difference already in our male verses the female in the picture). They will be ready to process at 20 – 28 weeks old. Wish us luck (smile).
THE GOBBLE GOBBLE
At 9 weeks old, they still have not made the notorious gobble gobble sound. They still have the ‘puberty whistle’.
Here is a 30 second video if you want to see the turkeys and hear them.