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Tell me about Turkeys

One of the few types of poultry I have never raised is turkey. I think next year I might give it a try.

So, tell me about them! I understand the babies are fussy and fragile.

Are they good pest/bug control?
Predator pressure, more easy to manage than chickens or no?
Are they loud and obnoxious?

My neighbor had one. The only thing I know is that they aren’t very smart.


Turkeys are not dumb; the wild ones here are literally using the crosswalks to cross our streets in town. We have wild ones through the pastures and driveway and they understand traffic, dogs, all the things and eat the heck out of grasshoppers. They roost in the trees about 30 feet high when grown. The ones I raised were very smart and very tough. Just had to keep them warm enough until they are feathered and then off they go, IME. We had one get caught in a net or something? Broke its leg but I splinted it and it recovered just fine. Excellent bug patrol if they are loose but they will roost where they want if they are loose; ours took to the trees. We had one hen hatch all her poults in an old truck we had and one fell out early, I don’t remember it seems like fall? but it was very cold and this one had fallen onto the old steel running board which further chilled it. The kids found it when they were doing chores and it looked dead, frozen. About an hour later my son mentioned he thought it might have moved when he saw it so I went out and got it, it did in fact move veeery slowly, and so I brought it in and warmed it (slowly). It recovered completely. We never lost any to predators but we always had dogs around (as you do). My only recommendation is to not handle them when they are poults; we did with ours and the toms got MEAN which upon googling is a risk if you handle them young. They attacked me everywhere I went unless I had our aussie with me. Now we have wild ones all around and they are tough and freaking smart. (and thankfully respectful of humans) We had a hen with about 20 poults in the horse pasture and she was taking on the horses that had no idea what was going on and those new hatched babies just melted into the grass to hide. With so many wild here I won’t raise them again but when we did ultimately butcher the mean toms they were excellent; best turkey at Thanksgiving ever. They aren’t loud unless they are watchdogging something or flirting (or getting ready to attack, I found). You can google the sound and see if it would bug you, it’s no louder than a chicken egg song and much less than guineas. I love the sound of the pips they make.


The heritage breeds will do better on free range than production breeds. I had several Bourbon Reds that were fun to have loose during the day, but I would lock them up at night if they were mine.

If you have chickens, the experts recommend keeping them completely separated as chickens can pass on a disease called blackhead that can be fatal to turkeys.

My biggest problem was one tom that followed me around incessantly, and another that put multiple dents and scratches on the cars from fighting with his reflection in the paint. :roll_eyes:


Back in the days when I had my farm I raised Broad Breasted Whites for my customers, 50-70 for Thanksgiving and another 50-70 for Easter. They are so dimwitted that we had an ongoing joke that they would drown from watching it rain.

They are fragile until they reach a few weeks old, but most especially the first three days after hatching. I always bought at least 10 extra to make sure I could fulfill customer orders. I kept mine in a large enclosure at night safe from predators, and free range during the day.

They were extremely noisy if they heard a certain sound pitch. My youngest son(when he was 4-5yrs old) would go up to the large flock and make a squealing noise with a pitch that only he could reach. The entire flock would gobble back at him every time.


Oh that’s annoying, and would not fly with my truck. I would be super ticked off.

Is there a “market” for chicken hens that no longer lay eggs but the owners are too soft to slaughter them? I just want natural bug control, not eggs. I don’t mind giving them someplace safe at night but they will be free range in the day and I’m not going to put up anything to prevent hawks.

You might consider guineas? They are as dumb as domesticated turkeys, maybe dumber. But they eat bugs, alert you of strange happenings, and lay their eggs in places you will never find them.


It’s their obnoxious noises that put me off of them. I know all poultry make sounds, but I’m looking for something as polite as possible lol

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Guineas are way past obnoxious – obnoxious can’t even be seen in the rear view mirror!

Neighbors across the street were gifted some by a “friend” who needed to re-home them (gee, I wonder why?). Their sounds would wake the dead, and would make one re-consider the friend who stuck one with them.


You might also consider Muscovy ducks.

I LOVE ducks, but they are so messy it makes me pause.

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There was a peacock that lived at my place for a while. He defected from my neighbor’s place where he was getting beat up by the other peacock. OMG, he was messy. Poop and pee and feathers and skin flakes everywhere. I’m not OCD about things having to be clean and I was horrified by the huge mess around the house and on my porch.

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I would take a ton of turkeys over the 6 Muscovy ducks I had! They hissssssss! :rofl:


We raised 1000s of birds for the farm market business I owned -chicken, ducks, turkeys, geese, etc. I love turkeys! They’re my favorite. Have never found them to be particularly noisy. They don’t crow, or screech or anything like guinea or peafowl do. They usually have medium-to-lower pitched voices. The toms do gobble – I once had 6 broadbreasted bronze toms that loooooved to gobble at their reflection in the truck bumper. Both toms & hens will make a sort of chirpping noise similar to that of a cat when they want to get your attention. I can sleep through roosters crowing 10’ from the bedroom window. Yet the sound of guinea fowl screetching makes me :exploding_head::exploding_head:

Any hunter who has matched wits with a wild Tom will attest to the fact turkeys aren’t dumb. Imo, they caught their bad rap through a combination of the poults being very delicate AND very inquisitive about the world around them. They also grow extremely fast & you must remain cognizant that their diet is on point at all times in order to support that insane rate of growth. Your turkey-proofing strategy must also be constantly evolving to keep up. Look hard around the brooding area every few days. Bigger stronger babies = the ability to get into new & different sources of danger. To that end, the people who are most successful at raising baby turkeys aren’t people. :joy: They’re adult turkeys. They’re generally excellent parents. If you can manage it, letting a turkey hen hatch out babies makes your part of the job 1000% easier than it is with babies in a brooder.

Hmmm. What else? Once they reach adulthood they are badasses & predators are far less apt to mess with them than they would chickens or ducks. Somewhere I have a video of our turkey squad running down a 6’ rat snake. I’ve raised both heritage & production breeds & enjoy the personality traits of both. The latter can be more novice-friendly. Yet I find the differances in character to be far less pronounced between heritage & production turkeys than it is with heritage & production breed chickens.

I’ve always had much better luck raising production breed turkeys & chickens than most. Even the freakazoid Jumbo Cornish X chickens. I love them because they’re so chill compared to heritage chickens. I affectionately refer to them as my Attack Marshmallows or the Peace-Loving Chonks. My secret is benign neglect + feeding a diet that is the complete opposite of what everyone says to do . Everyone gets treated like a normal turkey or chicken. The production breed babies learn to hustle & forage right along with their heritage cousins. Moat sources will tell you to feed them low protein & restrict calories. I did just that exactly once & quickly decided never again. I feed them the highest % protein ration I can reasonably afford. Sometimes mixing gamebird starter into their turkey starter to boost the protein content. Everyone’s feed is taken up at night. Otherwise, I don’t try to restrict their calories. They go out & run around chasing bugs & nibbling grass all day with the occasional pit stop for prepared feed just like the heritage birds.

Hope that helps! Have fun if you get them!


We raised 8 heritage breed turkey chicks one year when we got new layer chicks & broiler chicks. I raised them all together and don’t remember them being any more fragile .

Once they were big enough we put them and the layer hens in the new hen house with a huge, grass filled , attached , fenced chicken yard. The turkeys did just fine but as they got bigger they liked to " walkabout" during the day.

It was on the interior part of our farm so they were not in danger from predators but they had great fun terrorizing my 2 horses and mule as they would strut around, make turkey noises and show all the feathers etc…

I was glad when we butchered them!

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