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Against the background of the chicken population walking through the villages, the native of the North American continent, the turkey, is completely lost. The low popularity of turkeys as poultry is most likely due to the low egg production of turkeys (120 eggs per year is considered a good result) and the long terms of raising turkeys.
Except for broilers, the rest of the turkeys take about six months to reach marketable weight. Broiler meat crosses of turkeys, like broiler chickens, grow in 3 months.
In addition, many owners of personal backyards believe that keeping turkeys is fraught with significant difficulties. In fact, this is both true and not true.
Keeping turkeys at home is generally no more difficult than keeping chickens. True, it must be borne in mind that the area for keeping one turkey is much larger.
Usually, when going to have a bird, they buy not adults, but an egg for an incubator or chicks. Having no experience in hatching turkey eggs, it is better to buy turkey poults.
Growing turkeys at home
It is generally accepted that turkey poults are very moody when raised and often die at a very young age. This is also one of the reasons why poultry farmers are reluctant to start raising turkeys at home.
In fact, the problem lies not in the poultry poultry, but ... in industrial hatchery complexes. Unfortunately, infections are constantly roaming in these giant incubators. Epizootics sometimes take such forms that the import of chicks from the country that spreads the infection is closed at the state level. Experienced goose breeders, for example, indicate that when buying goslings from a large complex, up to 60% of young animals in newcomers die from viral enteritis in the first three weeks of life.
Hatchery chicks have similar problems. The entire purchased batch can often die out. From infection. At the same time, the survival rate of home-grown uninfected turkeys is almost one hundred percent with minimal attention to them. Those that do die raise doubts even when they hatch from the egg, since they clearly hatch too early and a very large undigested yolk is noticeable in the egg. Such a turkey is very likely to die.
The second reason for the death of hatching turkey poults is the conviction of private traders that in the first days of life, young chickens (of any species) need to be given eggs and boiled millet. Today, there are ready-made feeds for young chickens, turkeys and others, which contain the amount of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals necessary for chicks in the first days of life.
At the complex, no one will cook millet and eggs for hatched turkeys and then rub them. They will give you a special compound feed. When a private trader, according to the behests of experienced chicken farmers, begins to shove millet with an egg into a turkey, a turkey unaccustomed to such food will receive an upset of the gastrointestinal tract, diarrhea and, as a result, death.
Therefore, when acquiring even grown turkey poults (this option is better than the daily allowance) from private hands, you need to ask what the previous owners fed the bird, and, if necessary, change the diet, gradually adding a new type of feed. When purchasing turkey poults on a large farm, it is better to be puzzled in advance by buying special feed for young animals. Almost certainly, this was the kind of food that was given on such a farm.
And the third reason may be a long hunger strike of turkey poults purchased with daily allowance. On the first day, newly hatched chicks of any bird do not eat anything, they have not yet absorbed all the yolk. On the second day, they should already be able to peck. Moreover, if on the second day the turkey poults still eat very little, then from the third onwards only have time to add food.
Attention! An adult bird with advanced goiter can be fed twice a day, but chicks should have constant access to food and water. They should have plenty of both.
Breeding turkeys at home
For beginners, this is not such a difficult problem as many information resources often try to present it. The real problem is hereditary deformities due to closely related crossbreeding when breeding heavy breeds of turkeys, diseases brought in from the incubator and the large weight of turkeys that have been rooted too high.
Turkeys tolerate cold weather very well, even if it rains with hail. At temperatures from +5 (according to the sensations due to wind and rain - minus 5), turkeys do well even without a canopy. If the turkey has not yet clipped its wings, then, in general, he will not notice the bad weather. But turkeys fly very well if given the opportunity. Yes, looks are deceiving. With its wings clipped, a turkey cannot soften the landing and injures its legs upon landing.
Important! If, due to some circumstances, turkeys need to clip their wings, they cannot be equipped with a roost even at a height of 70-80 cm. Make such a turkey a roost at a height of 40-50 cm.
At the same time, one should not expect that turkeys are able to spend the night outside at real subzero temperatures. If there are frosts in the region in winter, then turkeys need an insulated barn. When equipping a shelter, the size of the turkeys must be taken into account. Although the principles of a turkey house are the same as for a chicken coop, the area should be much larger.
Turkeys can be kept with other poultry. Despite its formidable appearance, the turkey is a peace-loving creature. They either fight with relatives for turkeys, or drive away strangers from the turkey sitting on the nest. In all other cases, the turkey prefers not to provoke conflicts.
Turkeys are excellent mothers that sit well on the nest. True, not without some joke. If a turkey has decided that it will nest “here”, then it will nest “here”. And it is almost impossible to knock a turkey off this thought. Even bathing a turkey in a barrel of cold water doesn't help much. So it's easier to put up with it and let the turkey sit (or not sit) the clutch where it decided to rush.
There is an opportunity to correct this moment. Turkeys prefer to incubate turkey poults in secluded places. With a choice between a corner hidden from immodest looks and an open box of straw, the turkey will choose a corner.
If you equip enough shelters, turkeys are more likely to lay their eggs there.
Beginners usually start turkey breeding by purchasing turkey poults and raising them.
How to raise turkeys
If grown-up, fledgling turkeys were purchased, you can release them into the aviary. Better to find out how they were fed from the previous owner and copy the diet first, and then transfer them to your feed.
Day-old turkey poults are first placed in brooders or improvised containers in which it is possible to maintain a high air temperature.
Newbie breeders usually do not have incubators or brooders yet. In the summer, even such a box may work.
A litter is placed on the bottom: sawdust, straw, hay.
Important! Do not put newspaper, cardboard and similar smooth materials on which the poultry poultry legs will part.
A stick of suitable length is placed on top, onto which a wire from a heating lamp is wound. For heating, a 40-watt lamp will be enough, but an old-style lamp is needed, that is, an ordinary incandescent light bulb.
Usually it is recommended to maintain a temperature of about 30-33 degrees, in fact 28 is enough. Without a thermometer, you can select the desired temperature regime by simply lowering - raising the lamp.
You need to focus on the behavior of the turkey poults and the lamp itself. The specified 40 watts can heat the glass so that it burns, or can so that the lamp can be safely held with a bare hand. Therefore, we look at the turkey poults.
If they huddle together, try to crawl into the middle of the herd and squeak, then they are cold. The lamp is lowered or changed to a more powerful one.
If the turkey poults are huddled in a bunch next to / under the lamp, but are sleeping peacefully, then the temperature regime suits them.
If the turkeys are located at some distance from the lamp and sit quietly, many are sleeping, it means that they are already hot under the lamp, and the lamp can be raised higher or changed to a less powerful one.
Important! In a tightly closed box, the lamp will very quickly heat the air to a very high temperature, and turkey poults can die from heatstroke.
But at the same time, the box must be covered from above so that the heat does not go away. Therefore, ventilation holes must be cut in the box.
Feeding turkeys from day one
The best and simplest is a special feed for turkey poults, in which everything you need is added. By the way, given that all the ingredients in it are ground into dust, and then compressed into grains again, when feeding such food, sand is not even required.
There is no need to simply pour the feed onto the bottom of the crate. The food is poured into a shallow and low container. Turkey poults themselves will find it perfectly on the second day.
Feeding and features of turkeys
If there is no opportunity to buy such food, then you will have to feed the old fashioned way, for the first week, be sure to add a grated boiled egg. The number of eggs will largely depend on the number of chicks and the financial viability of the owners.
Important! Eggs should not be left in the trough for longer than half a day. They start to deteriorate.
In addition to eggs, they provide finely ground wheat, barley, oats. But finely ground, not flour. In a separate bowl, be sure to put sand. Ground boiled eggshells are poured into the groats. After a week, you can gradually add finely chopped herbs, include vegetables and ordinary grass.
In addition to cereals, turkeys can be given soaked bran and rub. But in this case it is necessary to ensure that these feeds do not sour in the heat, since they have a high fermentation ability. These types of feed are soaked immediately before the dacha. Feed should not be liquid.
Also, clean water is required. Water can also be placed simply in a container low enough for the chicks to drink, and high enough so that they cannot fit into it when simply moving around the box.
The bottoms of cut one and a half, two liter bottles are well suited as such containers. But at the bottom of the container with water, you need to put some kind of weighting agent so that the turkey poults do not overturn it. A weighting agent at the bottom of the container with water is also needed so that a turkey that accidentally gets into it can jump out without problems. A very wet turkey can die from hypothermia.
Important! In a brooder or other rearing area, poults should have enough room to move freely.
Such a density is unacceptable if you need to keep all the livestock, and not lose 25 percent.
At this density, especially for chicks less than a week old, weak chicks can be trampled by stronger chicks when they lie down to rest.
In addition, for the normal development of turkey poults must move a lot. Otherwise, turkey poults will inevitably have leg problems.
Advice! A turkey with problem legs, released to run free into the yard, often has problems disappearing within a week.
But it is better if the turkey poults from birth have the opportunity to move a lot. It's good when poults huddled in a heap occupy only one corner of the area allotted to them. As the chicks grow up, they need to be seated or transferred to a more spacious area.
Details about breeding turkeys at home
Puberty in turkeys occurs at 10 months. Therefore, turkey poults bought at the beginning of summer are already quite capable of reproduction in the spring. 8-10 turkeys are left for one turkey. Larger numbers are not recommended as the turkey will not be able to fertilize all turkeys properly.
Important! Even for decorative purposes, you cannot keep only a couple: a turkey and a turkey. The turkey is too sexually active.
If turkeys are kept not on an industrial scale, but simply as an additional source of meat in the backyard, you need to allocate at least 3-4 turkeys to the turkey.
When a turkey is determined where it will nest, it will lay its eggs right on the bare ground. The turkey lays eggs, one per day. There is no need to worry about bare ground. Together with the eggs, a nest appears there completely invisibly, often made up of what the turkey could find. Therefore, provide straw scattered throughout the enclosure for the turkeys. The turkey's straw nest will be assembled by themselves.
Having laid 25-28 eggs, the turkey sits down to incubate them. The turkey sits on the nest very tightly, often without even going to peck the food. If the turkeys were fed well enough before and the turkey has some fat reserves (the turkey should not be overweight), then there is nothing to worry about. In the first days of incubation, the turkey usually leaves the nest calmly. The turkey stops leaving the nest in the last days before hatching.
Attention! If you notice that a turkey has a bare belly, don't panic. This is normal for turkeys. In the process of incubating, the turkey loses a feather on its stomach and heats the eggs with bare skin.
The turkey incubates for 28 days. Then you can decide whether to pick up the turkey poults and grow them by hand, or leave them with the turkey. In the second case, the turkey with turkey poults must be provided with appropriate food and make sure that other birds do not eat it.
How to raise turkeys in a household incubator
Turkey poults can also be bred in a domestic incubator if a decision has been made not to leave eggs under the turkey or an incubator egg has been purchased. In addition, incubator-raised turkeys generally do not have a hatching instinct, so hatchery turkeys may not hatch eggs either.
For setting in the incubator, eggs are taken that have been stored for no more than 10 days. Eggs should be clean, but not washed. Eggs are stored at a temperature of 12 degrees and a humidity of 80% with a blunt end up. Eggs are turned every 4 days.
Before the very laying, the eggshells are cleaned of debris, they wait until the eggs are heated to room temperature, and dipped in a disinfectant solution. Then the eggs are checked with an ovoscope.
The yolk of a quality egg has no clear boundaries, the white is transparent, and the air chamber is at the blunt end of the egg. These eggs can be used for incubation.
Important! In the presence of the slightest cracks in the shell, the egg is not allowed to incubation, eggs with a crack found during incubation are removed from the incubation process.
Due to the speckled color and thicker film of the turkey egg, visibility will be worse, but the main thing can be seen.
The second time turkey eggs are ovoscoped 8 days after laying. And for the third time on the 26th day.
If any of these defects are present, the egg is removed from the incubator.
Important! When inspecting and opening the incubator, the temperature drops, so the eggs should be inspected in a warm room and no more than 10 minutes.
Ovoscopy at home:
Stages of incubation of turkey eggs
- temperature 37.5 - 38 °;
- humidity - 60 - 65%;
- the number of egg turns - 6 per day.
- temperature 37.5 - 38 °;
- humidity - 45 - 50%;
- the number of egg turns - 6 per day.
15 - 25 days:
- temperature 37.5 °;
- humidity - 65%;
- the number of egg turns - 4 per day;
- cooling the eggs - 10-15 minutes, at the end, when you touch the eyelid, the egg should not feel either cold or warm.
Day 25 - 28: Eggs are not disturbed until the chicks hatch.
Hatching will begin with small nibbles on the egg shell. In this position, the eggs can be up to a day. Don't try to help the chicks open the egg. Having gained strength, the turkey poults will open the egg shell themselves and get out of it.If you "help" them, it may turn out that the poults are not yet sufficiently developed and there is too much yolk in the egg. When the egg shell is opened, the yolk will dry out, the turkey will not have time to develop to a viable state and will die.
A primitive ovoscope for eggs can be made independently from an ordinary lamp and some kind of box. For example, from under the shoes. But the eggs in this case will shine through worse, since the lamp is more powerful in the factory ovoscope.
A hole is cut in the lid of the box to the size of an egg, a lamp is turned on inside the box and the lid is tightly closed. To close the lid, a slot is cut for the wire in the side wall of the box.
It is better to ovoscope eggs in complete darkness so that you can see better.
As a result, you do not need to be afraid to start and breed turkeys. Keeping turkeys is more difficult only in terms of the amount of feed and money spent on feed. But the meat yield is also very high. Broiler turkeys produce even more meat, but require significantly more feed. And it is better to feed such turkeys with compound feed for broilers.