Talking Turkey


I’m obsessed, for no good reason, with turkeys today. It’s not that close to Thanksgiving yet. In fact, it’s not even November quite yet and today is Halloween. I should be obsessed with Halloween if I’m going to be on a holiday at the moment. However, we don’t really celebrate Halloween here as the only trick-or-treaters in these here parts are the chickens, and they play tricks and demand treats every day of the year, so what’s new about that? But it’s damp and gray and dreary and my thoughts turn to spring, and spring babies, and maybe I just need something to look forward to this time of year with winter breathing down my back, making threats about arriving early.

I’ve never raised turkeys. How did I miss turkeys? I’ve tried almost everything else! I’m thinking about getting some turkeys in the spring. I think these are pretty. Or I could get a turkey assortment. Or a whole barnyard assortment, because don’t you know I need to try ducks again? No? Sigh. Okay, what about turkeys? Have you raised turkeys? What kind? Turkey tips? Talk turkey to me! Let’s pretend it’s spring.


  1. willsahna says:

    I have never raised turkeys, but I used to keep my horse at a friend’s ranch and she had turkeys. She loved them! They were kind of like pets and just walked around being turkey like. I didn’t pay much attention to them, but they didn’t bother me or the horse.

  2. Cowgirl Jules says:

    I raise turkeys. Broad Breasted bronze are nice for just eating, but they don’t live all that long and they don’t reproduce by themselves. I had a pair – the male got HUGE. The hen did lay eggs, but since they had mechanical difficulties, shall we say, they weren’t fertile. They’re extremely personable though, and I had a hard time slaughtering the male. I eventually did just because he was too big to walk around, and he dressed out over 40 pounds. The female navigated well enough and I still have her at 18 months old. The male turned out to have a massive abscess, so I didn’t get to eat him.

    So I went with heritage turkeys instead, for next year. They take much longer to get to market weight (and I started late) but they can breed. I have Royal Palms and Black Mottled, from Porter’s. Such funny birds, they come running to me every time I go out there. I’ll keep a trio of each for breeding, and eat the rest when they’re big enough.

  3. Flowerpower says:

    Could you keep the turkeys in the same pen as the chickens? If they are safe from predators I see no reason why you could not have them.

  4. gingergoat says:

    We recently acquired a Golden Bronze turkey. She is almost a year old. She is TOTALLY SPOILED. She comes running for a handout (usually bread) whenever we go outside. She hangs out with Buddy, our Great Pyr. I keep telling her she is nothing but a big chicken, but she won’t have anything to do with the chickens. She never leaves Buddy’s side. She is free-range during the day and has her own little night-time pen. She refused to roost at night with the chickens in their secure chicken house. Buddy watches over her at night. Strange goings-on around our little farm.

  5. Barbee says:

    Oh, yes, turkeys! Pea fowl, too?

  6. BuckeyeGirl says:

    We have a thread on the Forum about turkeys! I love seeing them but have never raised them, mostly because I hate to butcher and they are really mostly there for that reason. …I may have to get back into the swing of raising some birds for meat though.

    I saw some amazing heritage breeds at the county fair this past summer though. It’s pretty tempting! They’re gorgeous and talking to the owners reaffirms that they’re interesting to have.

    Oh, one other thing, chickens can carry something called Blackhead to turkeys. It doesn’t hurt the chickens, they don’t react at all to it and it doesn’t hurt them, but it’s bad for turkeys, so it’s best to keep them separate. It’s not a for sure thing though, and everyone I know has them together without much or even any problem, it’s still something to be aware of though.

  7. Blyss says:

    When the kids were in 4-H they raised turkeys. They were not a lot of work, did have amazing personalities, but they are NOT the sharpest tool in the shed. They truly did have to be brought in out of the rain so they didn’t drown looking up to see where the water hitting them was coming from! Maybe it was just that breed (Plain white market turkeys)though, because Fred and Wilma (An Old World Bronze breeding pair) seemed fine. We had a big pen in the back so they weren’t with our chickens, but that was more for room reasons than anything else.
    Oh, and as my son delighted in finding out, if your male turkey is strutting around the yard, all puffed up with his feathers spread, and you are running late for soccer practice and have to put him back in the pen, and you run up behind him and scoop him into your arms, said turkey will let out a delightful foghorn like burp sound (as the air leaves his puffed up chest) that will amuse the young at heart no end! Jordan spent HOURS waiting for Fred to puff so he could release that sound, and gave himself side aches laughing about it!!! :no:

  8. Imperious Fig says:

    My turkey raising experience has been like your duck raising experience. Instead of being eaten, turkeys just die. (Kinda like how you describe lambs.) The only one I had some success with was a blue slate hen. She was a nice turkey – I was hoping to breed a flock to provide free-range turkeys for meat. Couldn’t kill the only one that survived though. The turkey would come to her pen every night (I could squawk out a duplicate call and call her to the pen.) Unfortunately, we had to go out of town for a week when my mom passed away and the turkey must have wandered off. A coyote probably grabbed her – all that was left was a wing. ๐Ÿ™ Every year I think of trying turkeys again. Maybe next year!

  9. tmavraides says:

    Hi, I have raised turkeys and loved it. I had a male and female pair of heritage breed calico turkeys. They are amazing fun. They do poop quite a bit so be prepared for lots and lots of stuff to compost. We live in the city and raise a city flock of 8 hens and the two turkeys. We just had to give our beloved turkeys away because our male reached sexual maturity while stunningly gorgeous (as much as a turkey can be) he began gobbling so loudly that we thought it best to move him to a place more gobble friendly. The gobbling is shockingly loud and lots of it. I didn’t mind it at all but I thought my neighbors might need a break. I miss them so much. I hope you do get turkeys they have fun personalities and put on quite a show. Hope that helps. If I had just a bit more space I would get turkeys again no question.

  10. cabynfevr says:

    I love having turkeys…they’re kind of like winged goats, or at least mine were! Very social and friendly, coming up on the deck during picnics, following walkers down the trail that runs behind our house. But, eventually they did contract Blackhead from my chickens ๐Ÿ™ I had kept my chickens and turkeys together for years with no problem before that. They lay beautiful eggs that I think taste even better than chicken eggs. If you have a separate pen you should get them!!

  11. outbackfarm says:

    I got 10 Bourbon Red turkey poults to raise for eating and also for breeding. I killed one right away. I got them the beginning of June 1 1/2 years ago. I thought it was really warm but apparently these little guys are VERY cold natured. But to just lose 1 is not bad. SO got the others big and outside. They were with my chickens. I had heard alot about keeping turkeys and chickens together but did it anyway. These were a hardy heritage breed so I figured they could do it. And they did. I ended up with 4 hens and 5 toms. We butchered 2 of the toms right before Thanksgiving last year. My mom and step dad were there watching. Those birds ended up only weighing 6 and 8 pounds. I was so upset. And my step dad said he better go get one from the store.

    So I picked the biggest guy for the hens and put the other 2 guys in a coop and fed them like crazy. Butchered them about 6 months later and they weighed 16 and 18 pounds. So not the biggest turkeys on the block. I have heard of 40 pounders.

    Anyway, the hens all started laying and then they all started setting. I had one batch hatch and got 9. One died because of being trampled by big daddy. SO I took them all in and raised them myself. Sold them all. Then lost 2 of the hens. So I sold the last 2 hens and the tom. And I am OUT of the turkey business. I will not get any more. I still have a turkey in the freezer. They are really good though.

  12. Bev in CA says:

    We have raised turkeys for many years. The Bronze, for meat. Blyss is right, they are not too smart. Our chickens would go in each night to roost. Not the turkeys. They have to be escorted. Also, lol, they will love your front porch and will want to roost on the railings. They really make a mess. They are a beautiful bird. The males can be aggresive. They have long sharp spurs and can fly up and get you. To do well they need a feed higher in protein, which is a little pricey. Saying all that, it was a wonderful thing to have a Thanksgiving meal with everything that we grew or raised.

  13. joykenn says:

    Well, Suzanne, I seem to remember so talk about simplifying your life, didn’t I? Wasn’t that just a few months ago when you swore off ducks and lambs and…. Obviously this is cabin fever talking and when the sun comes out you’ll remember simplify, simplify…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. mamajoseph says:

    it IS Spring….somewhere. :hug: :hug:

  15. BrownSheep says:

    This was my first year raising turkeys and I absolutly loved it. My turkeys where far friendlier than my chickens. I do know there are certain diseases that turkeys can pick up from living with chickens although I haven’t had any problems. Bronze Broadbreasted are really intend for long lives lets say they go bye bye around november. I’ve been told that the toms can become very mean. Try to get heritage breeds! They take longer to grow but are smarter than comercial meat breeds

  16. BrownSheep says:

    bronze broadbreasted ARE NOT INTENDED for the long run …oops

  17. Claudia W says:

    Years ago we got as single turkey because it was the only one left in the cage at the feed and fuel. We named him Rusty. He actually ended up being a little mean and we donated him to a ranch across town that had other turkeys and farm animals. He got HUGE!!!

  18. nursemary says:

    Suzanne, if you want to drool over live turkeys go to Porter’s Rare Heritage Turkeys:

    I would have one of each if I could! Because of the minimum number of poults you need to order, it gets pricey but I may split an order with my local chicken BFF. All we have to do between now and then is make sure our husband’s don’t know the difference between a chicken and a turkey. Should be easy enough.

  19. holstein woman says:

    Now come on lets not get after her about simplifying life, she wants turkeys.
    I raise turkeys and the only thing I would say is to be SURE whomever you get the poults from knows how to sex them. Its all mu fault, this is my second year and I got the turkey feathers pulled over my eyes because I got 7 hens and 5 toms. If you have that many and they are in the same enclosure, when the begin to know their sexes they will fight to the death or break a back or kill one or more of the hens. Don’t believe anyone who tells you toms alone in a pen will not fight. They will!

  20. Julia K says:

    This is the second time we tried turkeys. We had 2 females and 1 male. My 2 bronze 1 male and 1 female weren’t very smart. My male got up to 30 lbs and is in the freezer at present waiting for Thanksgiving. We gave our bronze hen to our friend who did the butchering. We kept the white one because she actually had common sense and a good personality. She let’s us know when a chicken is needing help, a visitor stops by or if there is a strange noise. When she wants attention she will come stand near us, drop her wings then lay down, just waiting to be petted. She also gets along with the chickens and my duck well. They all sleep, eat and hang out together.

  21. Cheryl LeMay says:

    I absolutely love my turkeys.I have raised them for 20 years. I think keeping a small flock is no more difficult than chickens.Unlike chickens they would rather roost on top of your buildings instead of inside them.Clipping their wings is a must when they’re young and haven’t put on much muscle yet. Once they reach their adult size a four foot fence will keep them in, unless something scares them.And you will have to herd them in at night.I would not let them get in the habit of roosting just anywhere.If you want a commercial breed like the BBB or BBW I would get hens of those breeds and crossbreed them with heritage toms.The babies will grow faster and larger than the heritage but retain the flavor of the heritage.You will be able to butcher those by Thanksgiving.Of course you could raise the BBB toms for strictly meat and not breeding.They can be hard to start so I always put a few chicks in with them.They seem to learn easier from another bird than a human at that age.I could go on and on about these birds but you should try some.

  22. LK says:

    We bought some wild turkeys. We had them here for a while, then they left to go make more. Our dog didn’t help the situation. She would never have hurt them, but they were exciting to chase, you know. I didn’t think that, as I remember having a HUGE tom fly at me (actually off a large bale & away from the dog) when I was 8 months pregnant, and I was huge. It must have looked funny, me :bugeyed: turning and trying to do a running waddle as fast as my fat little legs could carry me. I tell you, I didn’t have far to go for safely, but I sure didn’t feel like getting hit with a TURKEY in the head. Boy, I was tired!

    We got them for the purpose of possibly having them leave, but that is okay. We were able to see the tom beautifully court his lady in our pasture (so magnificent!) and a couple years later, we spotted them (or their offspring) again a couple of miles from here with a family.

    If we had wanted to keep them penned, we would have had to pay a fee to keep them, as they were wild turkeys. It would have cost the same as a hunting licence each year.

    One thing that we enjoyed when our dog was still tied (yes, we tied her for a time…don’t remember why), the turkey would come for feed along with the horse and llama. It was funny watching that trio feed together.

    If we had the opportunity to get more again, I am sure that we would. I think that I would want to keep the originals penned the next time, though.

  23. lattelady says:

    I live in the MIDDLE of a medium sized city (250K), and wild turkeys strut down my alley almost every day. They have been in my yard more than once easily flying over a 6′ chain link fence. This is the same alley which has its fair share of coyotes too.
    Good luck.

  24. holstein woman says:

    Suzanne, when I got my first turkeys the tom and my roo fought until I put the tom in a pin to keep my roo alive, but they still fought through the chain link if you could imagine. I thought the poor roo was going to be killed so I caged him until I could get him healed up. Finally I got to the place I had to just butcher the tom he got so obnoxious.

    The hen would come up to anyone in the yard and sit down beside them and wait to be petted. I soon learned that she wanted to make a family and the tom appearantly wasn’t fertile, because he rode her, but she didn’t have any chicks. Poor girl!

    They were the most fun and would tell us when anyone came around for any reason. I did have to herd the tom in at night, but the hen would go in by herself.

    I hope you get some turkeys and they become exactly what you want, I am raising more every year for food for the table. I grind some of the meat so I can have burger when I want it. I use it to replace hamburger.

  25. huntermom says:

    We had turkeys when the girls were little. The Tom would follow them and the dogs around. TOM would come to the screen door and peck each morning for a slice of bread. He also heard the school bus coming and run up the drive before the dogs had a clue.They can get alittle cocky, but for the most part lots of fun. A neighbor up the road still tells of the story of waking after a storm and finding TOM in her yard. She’s so excited, goes and buys feed and is all lovey with MY Tom. Her hubby comes home and pops her bubble and tells her that he belongs to us. She’s in her 80’s now and still laughes when she sees me. The eggs have a great taste and make lots of noodles.

  26. Granny Trace says:

    I am raising broad breasted bronze now. I love them. We did process three hen a few weeks ago. I have seven more for turkey day.I was planning on keeping three till finding out they are not the right kind to keep and breed. They are wonderful to watch and care for.They follow me everywhere and roost in there pen as soon as dusk comes. We get more. SO easy.

  27. Southern MN Gal says:

    We have raised one Bronze Heritage turkey every year for the last 4 years. The first year we got a male and he was the sweetest thing EVER! He behaved just like an over sized dog. ๐Ÿ˜† When I’d go to hang clothes on the line, he’d follow me out there, then sit right by me “talking” while I hung up the clothes. He dressed out at 42 pounds and was wonderful. Both my husband and I grew up on farms, so we know what we’re getting into before the butchering day comes along. We name our animals and we butcher them, too. I know some people say you shouldn’t, but it’s just life at our house. The last three years we’ve ended up with hens and they are nice, too, but they’ve never had the great personality that the first jake had. We pen our turkey and chickens together (no roos at our house, thankyouverymuch!) and we’ve never had any problems. They are penned at night (they all go in together) and free range during the day. I would definitely say to give them a try! But they do like to be kept toasty warm as chicks, so make sure you’ve got your heat lamps ready.

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