A lot of Americans only think about turkeys once a year around Thanksgiving, but turkeys are a great homestead animal to raise and breed. They’re a lot like chickens, really, only bigger.
If you’re considering raising turkeys yourself, here is a basic guide to what you need to know.
You’ll first have to decide if you want to start with mature turkeys, or with baby turkeys, which are called poults. You can buy poults as you can baby chickens, and raise them up from infancy. Or, you can buy already mature turkeys and let them breed.
There are distinct pros and cons to each. If you buy mature turkeys, if you get at least one male, you’ll be able to breed your own pretty quickly, and also most likely be able to harvest meat sooner. But if you start with poults, while it will take much longer to harvest eggs or meat from them, it is definitely easier to start out and get used to.
Turkeys, like chickens, will need a habitat. They can wander, like chickens, but beware that they’re known for being mean, so you’ll probably want to keep them in a sizable coop if you’re just getting started. Turkey coops are just like chicken coops, only bigger. Each turkey will need at least 6′ of space. The hens will want brooding boxes, just like a chicken, only since they’re larger you’ll have to take that into account.
The hens will want brooding boxes, just like a chicken, only since they’re larger you’ll have to take that into account as well.
You can also give them a fenced in area attached to their coop, if you’d like to give them space but don’t want them interfering with the rest of your homestead. Some people also give them electric fences.
You will most likely want to feed your turkeys store-bought feed, unless you are able to give them a considerable amount of space in which to forage, and in that case you’ll probably still want to supplement their diet with some feed anyway.
You can purchase feed specifically for turkeys, or general game feed. You can also feed them scraps from your garden and kitchen, as you would chickens.
Turkeys are a great addition to the homestead, and I hope this simple guide gives you a basic idea of what’s involved with starting them out.
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