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Pros and Cons of Raising Turkeys

Posted on Monday Mar 20, 2023 at 12:28PM in Lawn and Garden

By Jennifer Sarte, MannaPro

Turkeys are amazing creatures, and though some people might have begun a Black Spanish turkey flock with the intention of filling the freezer each fall, many have found that these birds have wonderful personalities and make amazing pets as well.

With the exception of the space that they require, turkeys are easier to keep than chickens. They are docile and regal, create tight family bonds, and are fairly intelligent.

If you’ve raised chickens, then you have a good basis for raising turkeys. Like chickens, turkeys need quality feed, fresh water, a secure living space and run, clean bedding, roosting poles, and ground-level nesting boxes.

There are a few differences between chickens and turkeys, though. Below is a list of pros, cons, and helpful facts to get you started raising turkeys.

PROS of Raising Turkeys

They Are Cleaner Than Chickens

Most turkey pens are cleaner than chicken pens. This is because turkeys don’t have the constant instinct to scratch. Chickens dig through bedding during their waking hours and throw soiled bedding everywhere. When you feed turkeys, however, their food stays where you put it, the water stays bedding free, and the droppings are not scattered as they are in chicken pens.

They’re Delicious

Homegrown turkeys have so much flavor! Many people have the impression turkey is a rather bland meat, especially the white meat. However, a large segment of people actually prefer turkey to chicken.

CONS of Raising Turkeys

Turkey Poults are Delicate

Turkey poults are delicate and sensitive to slight changes such as drafts, dampness, and temperature changes. They’re slower-moving than chicks and have less of an instinct to run/defend themselves from danger. Because of this tendency, it is important to start turkey poults separately from chicks. Chicks can tend to run the poults over and boss them away from feeders.

They Need a Lot of Space

Everything concerning a turkey is bigger. The run, the coop, and the nesting boxes all need to be larger because of the size of the birds. Unlike chickens, which can be easily housed in recycled dog houses, etc., turkeys require more room; a large shed or small barn will work well. The more space you give them, the better they will fare.

They Eat a Lot

Again, larger birds equal more feed. Turkeys also need to be fed a higher-protein ration, such as a game bird feed, to get them to table weight, which can be more expensive per pound. Breeding pairs can be fed a lower-protein feed when kept for maintenance and breeding.

If you’re thinking about raising turkeys, I encourage you to research heritage breeds. Heritage breeds may not grow to the huge sizes that the white production turkeys reach, but they are full of flavor. They reproduce efficiently, and your breeding pairs will live longer lives. By raising heritage breeds, you are also helping to keep these breeds alive. Many heritage breeds are in danger of extinction because backyard keepers aren’t raising turkeys like they were before farm factories were invented.

Looking to learn more about what it takes to raise backyard poultry? Find your nearest Stockdale’s location here.

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