Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We’ve had turkeys on our homestead off and on over the years, and I’ve never regretted it. Turkeys have so much personality! They are playful and busy, very much like chickens. Many of our turkeys have been very affectionate and enjoyed being petted and even held. In fact, some of them also followed us around the yard like puppies. It’s actually kind of hard not to fall in love with them.

Personality aside, turkeys are generally raised on the homestead for their delicious meat. However, they are also great for pest control; one of their favorite foods is the dreaded tomato hornworm! Here are the most important things you need to know about raising turkeys on the homestead.

Turkey Breeds

There are lots of turkey breeds to choose from. My personal favorite is the heritage breed, Midget White. They stay relatively small, which is perfect for our little family. The smaller size means they don’t eat as much, which also makes them more economical. I also like the fact that their pin feathers are white, so they have a nice clean carcass, which looks nicer for roasting.

If you have a large family and want a larger bird, consider the Bourbon Red. Bourbon Reds are popular on small farms because they are excellent foragers with a reasonably large breast. Their pin feathers are light colored, so there aren’t any dark marks from the feathers on the carcass at roasting time. They are known for having rich, delicious meat.

Other popular breeds include the Broad Breasted White, the Narragansett, and the Broad Breasted Bronze. Check around to see what breeds are available in your area. Speaking to local farmers who have raised turkeys in your climate can give you some valuable insight into which breeds will do best in your area.

What You Need to Get Started with Turkey Poults

As you might guess, you will need pretty much the same equipment for your turkey poults as you do for chicks. Turkeys are a bit more delicate than chicks though, and they require some extra care. Don’t let them get wet, cold, or overheated. Any of these situations could lead to death or near death very quickly.

You’ll want to feed them 28% protein turkey starter until they are about eight weeks old. Prepare yourself because baby turkeys eat a lot more than baby chicks! Regular chick feeders work great for turkeys, but you’ll probably want to have more than one in the brooder because they go through the food so fast.

As far as water goes, stick to the little chick waterers with small openings. They will empty them fast so you may need a few. In my experience though, baby turkeys will soak themselves if they have waterers with large openings, and since they can be delicate, a wet baby turkey is not a good situation. Sometimes you will need to add some shiny pennies or marbles to their waterers to get them interested so they’ll drink.

They will also need a heat lamp. I keep it at about 18 inches high until they’re about 5 days old. After that, it should be raised an inch or so every five days. Make sure there’s plenty of room for everyone to get under the heat lamp. Otherwise, they will pile up on top of each other. If they pile, you could end up with some crushed or smothered poults at the bottom of the pile.

You can take the heat lamp away once they’re fully feathered. However, baby turkeys seem to be more delicate than chicks. I tend to keep them in the brooder for a week or two after they’re feathered, and definitely keep them away from larger birds until they can fend for themselves.

Meeting the Needs of Your Young Turkeys

Our turkeys have always mingled with the rest of the farm animals once they’re big enough. They often roost with the chickens or sometimes in the main barn. However, there is a disease called Blackhead that is supposed to be a problem when chickens and turkeys are kept together. We’ve never had any issues with it, and I’ve never known anyone who has. Still, it is worth mentioning that many experts recommend not even raising turkeys on the same farm with other poultry. You should do your own research before you decide to let your turkeys mingle with the chickens.

The young turkeys can be switched over to turkey grower that is about 24% protein when they are eight weeks old. Then at six months, you can switch them to 16% protein pellets or crumbles. When they reach eight weeks of age, you should be able to the toms from the hens because they will walk around with their wings and tail feathers fanned out. The toms will also grow faster than the hens, and they will start to gobble when they are around this age as well.

Turkeys don’t do well with temperature extremes. Be sure to provide plenty of shade and fresh water in the summer. Turkeys are very vulnerable to the heat. The same goes for winter; they’ll need a bit more protection from the cold than your chickens do.

Turkeys can also do great on pasture because they love to forage. A movable electric net fence with a portable shelter would work great, as long as they had plenty of protection from the elements. A modified chicken tractor type enclosure would also be great, especially if you were just raising a few turkeys at a time. If you can give them plenty of access to fresh forage, it will cut down on your feed bill significantly, making them much more economical to raise.

When to Butcher Your Turkeys

Generally, heritage breed turkeys are butchered when they are anywhere from 12 to 24 weeks old. If you’re raising one of the new, heavier breeds, they’ll probably be ready to go at somewhere between 12 and 18 weeks. Often, hens are processed younger as broilers or fryers. The toms are left to grow longer into nice big roasters. However, the age of processing will vary somewhat depending on the breed and diet of your turkeys.

Turkeys can be a great addition to the homestead. They’re a great source of food for the family, and they’re a joy to have around the farm, as well.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

Oh, we are all about…

Natural Beauty: 3 Homemade Face Masks For Dry Skin

Dry skin can be caused and made worse by several things, including poor diet, dehydration, reactions to chemicals found in skincare products, and even changes in the weather. Homemade face masks provide a safe and effective solution that will help to rehydrate and moisturize your skin. Here are three homemade face masks for dry skin.

Avocado, Oatmeal, and Aloe Vera Mask

Avocado is rich in vitamin E and healthy fats that nourish the skin, leaving it feeling soft and smooth. Oatmeal is a natural skin softener that aids the removal of dead skin cells and also binds other face mask ingredients together, helping to form a paste. Aloe vera is an excellent ingredient for hydrating the skin and combating dryness.

Peel the avocado and remove the stone, then mash thoroughly using a fork. Add two teaspoons of aloe vera gel and mix. Next, add one or two tablespoons of oatmeal, depending on the consistency you want. Apply the mask to your face and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse your skin thoroughly, but avoid cleansing for at least half an hour, as the avocado will still be soaking into the deeper layers of your skin.

Olive Oil, Gram Flour, and Turmeric Mask

Olive oil is one of nature’s most potent moisturizers, with the ability to repair damaged or dry skin. Gram flour acts as a cleanser and exfoliator to remove dirt from deep within the pores. Turmeric is full of antioxidants and healing properties that help to repair damaged skin.

Make a healing and moisturizing face mask by mixing two tablespoons of olive oil, half a teaspoon of turmeric and one or two tablespoons of gram flour. Apply the paste to your skin, taking special care to avoid the delicate area around the eyes, and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully remove the mask with a damp cloth or cotton wool to keep the turmeric away from your eyes. Cleanse your face as usual.

Egg, Milk and Yogurt Mask

Egg yolk is an efficient skin softener that nourishes the skin and combats dryness. Milk is also an excellent skin moisturizer that works well on dry skin. Yogurt cleanses, soothes and softens the skin, while also making it easier to remove dead skin cells.

Start by separating the egg, as you only need to use the yolk for this recipe. Mix one egg yolk with two tablespoons of plain yogurt. Add one to two tablespoons of powdered milk and mix. Unless you use yogurt with a thick consistency, you may need to use extra powdered milk or other bulking agents, such as oatmeal or gram flour, to help thicken the mixture. Apply the mask to your face and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse and cleanse as usual.

Store-bought beauty products can make dry skin worse, but homemade face masks provide an efficient and natural solution for most people. Ingredients found in your kitchen cupboard can make excellent moisturizers that help to soften and hydrate your skin.

Check out: 3 Homemade Face Masks For Sensitive Skin | 3 Homemade Face Masks For Oily Skin

Picked For You

  • Chamomile Tea: More Than A Nighttime DrinkChamomile Tea: More Than A Nighttime Drink
    Chamomile is a member of the daisy family, and its buds and blooms have been used to make tea for many centuries. Many people drink it purely for pleasure, but that’s not the only reason to make the brew. Chamomile also has many proven health benefits without any known side effects, and here are nine …