Want to have a plump juicy farm-raised turkey for Thanksgiving? Keep reading and discover some simple tips to have a delicious turkey for your big holiday!
Knowing how to feed and water your farm-raised turkey properly can help avoid a lot of problems as well as help you save money on feed. Compared to other meats, turkey’s meat is more lean and nutritious.
While it is frequently the meat of choice on special occasions, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, Turkey is also a versatile meat that can be eaten at any time of the year. Here are simple homesteading tips to make raising turkeys on your homestead easier.
Your Own Farm-Raised Turkey For Thanksgiving
It is important when raising your own farm-raised turkey to understand your needs. Are you raising turkeys for profit or personal consumption? Once you understand your needs, it is then necessary to choose what type or breed of turkey and housing.
The most common breed of turkey that is grown commercially is Large White, but there are many other breeds of turkeys that you can consider. Hens normally achieve a live weight of 15 lb. at 14 weeks of age, and toms (male turkeys) weight around 28 to 30 lb. at 12 to 18 weeks.
Getting Started With Turkey Poults
image via cwf farm
Young turkeys one day old and older (Turkey Poults) are more difficult to get started than chicks. Poults should be brought up in a warm environment without any kind of draft because they can’t regulate their body temperature for the first 10 days of life. Your poults will require temperatures around 100 degrees fahrenheit for the first week, decreasing by 5 degrees every week until they are completely feathered out.
This is the general rule, but don’t worry about getting it perfect because if they are uncomfortable they will let you know. If they are too hot they will show you excessive gasping and panting and they hang out as far as possible from the heat lamp. If they are too cold they are crowded under the heat lamp and piling on top of each other. So, make sure that there are no drafts to chill them and their water dish is not so deep that they could fall and drown.
Getting To Know The Behavior Of Your Poult
image via Wikipedia
For the first week of raising your turkey poults, you’ll notice they rest quite a bit. Rest will be followed by brief periods of brisk activity, and afterward more rest. Cheerful, healthy poults will be active when conscious. Young toms are generally bolder than young hens, and will be the first to peck at new object.
Poults that are lazy are often experiencing something, like too little to eat, too little to drink, bacterial infection, a brooder infection like coccidiosis or too little warmth. So keep an eye out for this.
Brooding Management For Your Poult
image via free range turkeys
The first few weeks of your poult’s life are critical to raising a healthy flock. You will need to have a building that provides protection and proper temperature for your poult to survive. Buildings of practically any type can be used to brood turkeys so long as the poults are kept dry, warm and free from drafts. Use the brooding management tips below to help get your poults off to a fast start.
Important Brooding Tips:
- Each poult should have at least 1.5 to 2.0 square feet of floor space for the first six to eight weeks of life. Providing satisfactory space will prevent swarming and bring a better development and growth performances.
Cleanliness and Litter:
- Your brooder should be thoroughly clean and has been disinfected before your poults arrival. Remove all unnecessary equipment and make sure to wash the house with soap and water, rinsing and sanitizing with the proper cleanser. A household disinfectant, like Lysol or chlorine bleach and water, can be utilized as a sanitizing agent. Dry your brooder for at least 3 days before putting your poults.
- Cover the floor with 3 to 5 inches of dry and clean absorbent litter. Wood shavings are perfect litter for poults or you can use a different material, such as peanut hulls, straw or crushed corn cobs. The use of litter is to absorb moisture and insulate poults from the cold floor. You can cover your litter with paper for the first three to five days to avoid the poults from eating the litter.
- Give heating by the use of infrared bulbs or electric brooders if available. It is vital to maintain a 100 degree F temperature at poult stature for the first week. Reduce brooding temperatures by 5 degrees F weekly. By 4 to six weeks of age, poults should no longer require supplemental warmth.
- Brooder guards can be used to help the poults avoid the drafts but near the warmth of the brooder. A 1 to 2 feet high brooder guard of cardboard arranged around 4 feet from the center of the brooder will work admirably.
image via vet concerns
Feeding and Watering Poults:
- Arrange waterers and feeders like spokes of a wheel inside the brooding area and should not be directly under the heat source. This will keep the water and feed near the heat source of the brooder where the poults can eat easily. This is vital to avoid chilling and, at the same time having the poult eat quickly. Round feeder will work admirably and make sure that each of your poults could get 1 linear inch feeder space and feeds should be available at all times. Increase linear space to 2-3 inches per poult, as they get older. It is preferable to have a formulated feeds for turkeys but high protein (23-24%) broiler chicken feeds can be used as a substitute, if necessary.
- It is essential that poults start drinking immediately. Make sure that waterers have enough water and that is accessible to water of at least 24 hours period during brooding. The poults may require help finding the water. Plunging the beaks of the few birds in the water will them start drinking. Once a couple of poults are drinking, the other will soon follow their behavior. Clean waterers every day.
Keep A Close Watch:
- Keep an eye on your poults during the first few days. At the time when poults are comfortable, they will be evenly distributed in the brooding area. If the poults are piling and huddling, your brooding are is too cool. Poults that are always on the edges of the brooding area are most likely too hot and trying the get away from the heat source.
- After 6-7 days brooder guards can be removed, however, on cold weathers you can keep the brooder guard in place longer to protect poults. As the poults grow, brooder guards can be enlarged to provide more room.
image via curbstone valley
When raising turkey poults, you’ll see that at end of 3 weeks your poults have become stronger and larger quickly. Be ready to change to harder and larger knock over waterers and anticipate this need and their increasing quantities of water and feed.
By 3 weeks adolescent flight feathers will completely emerge. At this period in time, you will realize that you have passed one the major points in your young turkey’s life. The following time of concern when raising turkey poults is the point at which they achieve eight weeks and are initially introduced to pasture. To provide your young poults more space and more fresh air, many producers used to use sun yards in conjunction with their brooder house.
Knowing When They’re Ready
Make sure that young poults already have their full set of feathers before you let them out onto the sun yards. They should be roughly 4 weeks or older. The sun yard for turkey is an open air area enclosed with wire on the sides and roofing, and with wire floor to raise the turkeys off the ground. You sun yards should be at least the size of the house.
After eight weeks, poults might be fed in ration lower in protein. Grains can be nourished along with the higher protein mash, however in different containers in order to avoid billing out the mash to get to the grain. Oats and corn are great for turkeys. Oats specifically are great and help your farm-raised turkey develop strong bones, therefore it prevents bone disfigurements and feather picking.
When To Butcher Your Turkey
image via the garden prepper
The perfect time to butcher your turkey depends on the breed you’ve chosen to raise as all birds are different. So depending on the particular breed, feeding program, and brooding management and personal taste, these ages could differ by a week or two.
- Heritage Breed Turkey – 28 weeks
- Broad Breasted Turkey – 18 weeks
So now that you have the perfect farm-raised turkey, you’re in need of that perfect Turkey recipe. Check this out “How to Cook a Turkey Perfectly For Thanksgiving”
Want to learn more about how to have plump juicy farm-raised turkey? Let’s watch this video from PaPa51000
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