Turkey poults can be very easy and hard to raise at the same time. When the right knowledge is applied, raising poults can be very easy and interesting thing to do. Turkeys are social birds and are easy to tame and live with.
Though they slightly differ from chickens, they almost have common requirements. Turkeys are hardy and will adapt in almost every climate.
Common Questions people ask
Why do turkey poults die?
Turkey poults are very sensitive to dampness and any wet bedding can form molds that are very dangerous to young poults. Check the kind of feed you give to your poults as aflatoxins can kill them easily because they cause food poisoning.
Do turkeys make good pets?
Turkeys are very friendly and social. Call them names and they will get used to them. Gift them with nuts or peas as treats when they respond and you will note that with time they will get used to you and follow you whenever they see you.
How do you handle turkey poults?
Handling turkey poults requires maximum care and full attention should be given to the young birds. The first weeks of the poults life are very important and the kind of care given to the poults will greatly determine the success of their survival.
Proper hygiene, right nutrition and good living conditions are among the important aspects that will lead to successful survival of baby turkeys.
There are some important aspects you need to put into consideration before you start the turkey journey. Below are some of those factors that will determine your success.
Keep reading to find out what they are.
Before the arrival of the first batch of your turkey poults, ask yourself where they are going to live and how? If your turkey coop initially had other kinds of poultry, ensure the old litter is completely removed.
Use the right amount of chemicals to disinfect the coop thoroughly to kill any pathogen that might be left by the old flock or the bedding material.
Make sure the right concentration of chemicals is used to prevent any residue chemicals in your coop as it may it may be a cause of deaths or new diseases.
Ensure foot dips and disinfectant mats are available for those who may be required to visit the poults to minimize infections. If it is not compulsory to visit the young birds, allow the caregiver only as this will be safe for your flock.
There are many kinds of beddings that are used. Straw, pine shavings, rice husks and sand are some of the commonly used bedding. Not all beddings are good especially for young birds. Some may be easy to swallow for the poults while some may retain moisture making the turkey coop dump.
The best material to use as bedding should have the following qualities.
- Should not hold moisture as this will make the coop dump.
- They should be draft free.
- It should be hard for the poults to swallow as it may chock and cause death.
- A good bedding material should be easy to clean.
Among those qualities, straw is the best and works well for my poults whenever they are hatched. It is available chopped ideal for brooding. (Check my article hay vs. straw as bedding).
Bedding materials should be spread on the floor with a thickness of 2 inches in warm regions and 3 inches in cold regions to prevent the poults from getting chilled by the cold concrete floor.
Never use newspapers on the floor as turkey poults have long legs and will easily slide and develop splayed legs. Splay legs can be as a result of improper hatching temperatures but it will be better if you avoid it.
From the incubator, turkey poults should remain in the brooder for two months. The reason they are kept in the brooder is because they are not able to regulate their own body temperatures and requires supplemental heat.
A brooder should work just like the mother turkey by providing them with heat and a secure environment as they are very vulnerable at this stage of life.
Supplement the heat by making sure your brooder temperatures range between 95 to 100 degrees F for the first two weeks. Reduce heat by 5 degrees F each week until the poults are fully feathered. Your poults will be fully feathered between 6 to 8 weeks.
Your heat source should be secured on the ceiling with a dog chain at least 18 inches from the surface The behavior of your poults will tell the amount of heat in the brooder.
If the poults are huddled together under the heat source, that means it is cold for them and require additional heat.
When they are evenly distributed and happy, the temperatures are at optimum level. Anytime they are fussy and far away from the heat source then the heat is too much for them.
An infrared bulb and a heating plate are the best sources of heat as they cannot cause fires inside the coop. They also produce the right amount of heat for the poults.
Before the arrival of the poults heat the brooding room for 24 hours and make sure everything works as required. This also ensures uniform distribution of heat is achieved.
Unlike chickens, turkey poults require a feed that is rich in protein content of 28% to 30%. This is because turkey poults grow very quickly. They are also bigger in size than chicks calling for more protein requirements.
A Game bird starter works well for my poults compared to chick starter that has 22% to 24% protein content.
Turkey poults are a bit dumb and will require your help to find food. Place brightly colored marbles in their water and food to help them locate it.
Some hatcheries recommend that you place a few chicken chicks together with turkey poults. Chicks are very intelligent will help them locate water and food sources easily.
Some people often place paper towels under the feeding troughs. This helps poults locate where feeds are but remove them later. This method also works pretty well.
Do not give layers marsh to the poults because it contains high levels of calcium. After several weeks you can give grit because it helps in food digestion.
Never place the feeders directly under the heat sources. This may make the feed too hot or the young birds. Some may end up overheating if they stay for too long when feeding.
Turkey poults need water
Poults require fresh and clean drinking water to avoid dehydration. Warm water is good for them as cold water will chill them during the cold season. They may also end up dehydrating because they are unable to drink it cold.
Sometimes back I was using open dishes and several of my poults drowned. This made me me shift to chick fountains and cup waterers. These waterers never disappoint as they keep water clean and no risks of drowning can occur.
If you have to use an open dish, make sure it is shallow and place some stone pebbles. They act as islands for the poults to step on as they quench their thirst.
Do turkey poults require perches?
Just like chickens, turkeys roost and do not like spending the night on beddings like ducks do. In some cases, turkeys fly and roost on tree branches.
Wild turkeys are a perfect example and prefer roosting high on trees to evade predators that stalk and kill them for food.
However, domestic turkeys like the Black Spanish turkey will develop a habit to roost on fences if the turkey coop does not have roost bars.
It is important you introduce perches that are raised about 30cm above the ground from the time your baby turkeys are 3 weeks old. Raise the perching height as they grow and this will tame them to roost in their coops at night.
Do my turkeys need a nesting box?
Nesting boxes are tiny set places or things like wooden boxes, old car tyres and plastic bins among others where the female turkeys lay their eggs.
Some turkey breeds are notorious and will lay their eggs in a secret place among thickets and bushes. Breeds like the Midget white will became very vulnerable to predation because their bright plumage will not allow for camouflage.
Providing nesting areas for your flock will make them get used to laying in the coop. Introduce nesting boxes to your teenage birds after they are out of the brooder. Slowly they will start visiting them and finally when time to lay comes they will have a suitable spot on the nesting boxes.
What parasites attack turkey chicks?
Mites and lice are the most common external parasites that pose a major threat to turkeys. They prefer taking cover under the bird’s feathers. Here, they suck blood and do extensive damage to the developing feathers.
Inside the turkey coop, they hide under the roost bars or between the crevices on the walls and lay eggs. If they are not controlled, the host losses weight, laying stops and if they persist death can occur.
Using small amounts of diatomaceous earth in their dust bathing will help control these parasites. Diatomaceous earth works by removing body oils and moisture from the insects thus dehydrating them to death.
Internal parasites like ring warms and round warms are another major threat. They live inside `the small intestines where they attach themselves and multiply.
If they are not controlled they can lead to loss of weight or death. Seek advice from a qualified vet to advice on the right drugs.
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