Turkey Farming for Beginners: A Complete Guide

Posted by: Samuel Ezenwankwo 2 years, 7 months ago/ (0 comments)

Turkey farming ( a type of poultry farming) is an exciting hobby that has been around for centuries. It's also a great way to earn extra income while enjoying nature. In this article, I'll give you a complete guide to turkey farming.

I'll start off by explaining what a turkey farm is, and then I'll explain how to get started.

After that, I'll cover the different types of turkeys, their care requirements, and their feeding. Finally, I'll finish with a few tips on how to improve your turkey farming experience.

 Turkey on free range

Turkeys on free range

What Is Turkey Farming?

A turkey farm is where you raise domesticated turkeys as pets or livestock. You can choose from several breeds of birds such as Cornish Crosses, Rhode Island Reds, White Leghorns, etc.

The most common type of bird raised in farms is chickens because they're easy to breed and produce eggs quickly.

However, there are many other reasons why people want to keep turkeys as pets.

Also, read: How are Turkeys Slaughtered in The Factory Farm? Here Are the Four Steps.

Are turkeys better than chickens?

If you're talking about taste, it depends on what type of cooking you'll be doing. There's a reason that turkey is the preferred holiday bird.

Turkeys are bigger and have a lot more fat, which insulates the meat and prevents it from drying out as much as a chicken during roasting and deep-frying.

Turkey is also considered to be moister than chicken because poultry should not dry out when cooking because it's naturally salty and flavorful already.

In terms of protein content, both turkey and chicken are excellent choices. Although the turkey thigh is somewhat more protein-rich than the chicken thigh, it is just marginally more so than the chicken thigh in terms of protein content.

There is no difference in protein content amongst the other cuts of beef.

According to your health and dietary goals, you may choose one variety over another. 

The complete meal should be considered, including calories and vitamins, and not just a single component, such as protein, when choosing if a food fits into your diet.

It is most beneficial to eat a variety of meals so that your body receives all of the nutrients it requires.

Turkeys have more meat per pound than chickens do. They grow faster too. If you like eating chicken but don't want to eat all those bones, try raising some turkeys instead!

Turkeys are very social animals. Unlike chickens who live alone, turkeys need companionship. This means that if you buy one turkey, it will be lonely unless you find another companion for him/her.

If you have more than one turkey, however, they will enjoy each other's company. They may even form friendships with them.

Turkeys are intelligent creatures. Like dogs, they understand human language and respond accordingly. Because of this, they make good family pets.

They do require much space. Since turkeys  eat about 2 pounds per day, they will take up too much room. Turkeys like to roam free so they don't mind being kept outdoors.

They're relatively cheap to feed. Most commercial feeds cost less than $1 per pound. On top of that, you can save money by buying frozen turkeys instead of fresh ones. Frozen turkeys come at half the price compared to those sold locally.

Are turkeys easier to raise than chickens? 

Yes! It takes longer to hatch chicks s but once they reach adulthood, they grow faster than chickens do. Chickens usually mature around 6 months while turkeys typically reach maturity after 12 months.

In addition, turkeys are generally healthier than chickens since they consume fewer antibiotics.

What kind of housing do turkeys prefer?

Most turkeys love to spend time outdoors. However, some people keep them inside due to cold weather.

Some turkeys are raised under heat lamps to prevent frostbite. Others are housed in barns where there is plenty of ventilation.

Turkeys are generally lower maintenance than chickens, which means they require less work to maintain their health and provide superior meat. This is not to mention the additional benefits of adding a turkey to your farm.

Turkey meat has a much better texture and flavor than chicken. Additionally, turkeys have a much higher ratio of edible white meat compared to the equal number of dark meat that they produce.

Turkeys are also much harder to kill than chickens, so their meat is less likely to end up under your nails while preparing them for the oven.

 turkey on deep litter system

Turkeys are preferably reared on deep litter

How long does it take to raise a baby turkey?

Chicks (poults) begin hatching after 28 days of laying an egg. Once hatched, they stay inside until they're ready to go outside.

The first time they leave their nest box, they're called "poults." Poults weigh between 1 ounce and 3 ounces.

After 4 weeks, poults become broilers or fryers. Broiler birds start producing eggs at 8 weeks old; fryer birds produce eggs at 10 weeks old.

Is raising turkey profitable?

A lot of people have been talking about raising turkeys. You get eggs,  more meat, and feathers from turkeys than from chickens. It’s a lot cheaper to raise turkeys too. Plus, they taste better.

At the same time, there are many questions about the profitability of raising turkeys. How much can I make from raising turkeys? What’s the potential for profit? Is raising turkeys a good idea?

These are all important questions. So is there a way to answer them? And wouldn’t an answer help everyone who’s thinking about raising turkeys?

Raising turkeys is definitely lucrative. You'll earn approximately $2-$3 per bird depending on how many hens you own.

Also, unlike chickens, turkeys don't lay as many eggs. Therefore, you'll get more from every hen you own.

Also, read: What Chickens Lay Brown Egg? Here are the 11 Best Breeds...

What should I know before purchasing my first turkey?

Before getting started, consider these things:

  • Make sure you've got enough land to accommodate all the animals you plan to buy. If you want to raise turkeys, you need at least 5 acres.

  • Decide whether you'd rather sell live poultry or processed products such as ground turkey.

          Live poultry will fetch a higher price if you decide to resell them later. Ground turkey sells well year-round regardless of the season.

  • Consider what type of breed you would like to use. There's no right answer here.

           Different breeds offer different characteristics. For example, bantams tend to be harder than large varieties.

            Large turkeys are known  for having larger breasts with thicker skin. Small turkeys are often leaner and have thinner legs.

  • Determine whether you'd like to raise male or female turkeys. Males make excellent pets and good mothers. Females are great layers. Both sexes are equally delicious when cooked properly.


  • Choose a breeder who raises healthy turkeys. Look for signs of disease, parasites, and other problems. Ask about his/her record-keeping system.

  • Be aware of any local regulations regarding the sale of live poultry. In most states, you can only sell live poultry once a week. Check with your state agriculture department to find out exactly what rules apply to you.

How much do farmers get paid for turkey?

black turkey breed

Farmers usually receive anywhere from $1.50 - $4.00 per pound for fresh market sales.

They may also receive a premium for selling directly to consumers instead of through grocery stores. Farmers typically keep 50% of this money.

However, some farms charge extra fees for processing turkeys into frozen food items. These charges vary widely based on location and size of operation.

Some processors even require that their customers pay in advance so they can guarantee delivery dates.

Turkeys raised by small family operations generally go straight to the consumer without going through a processor.

This means that farmers receive less income but it costs them nothing to process their birds.

On the flip side, big companies like Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms spend millions each year buying up turkey contracts from independent growers.

The company then processes the turkeys and ships them nationwide. It pays its suppliers an average of $5.25 per pound.

Turkeys sold to restaurants are considered "fresh" meat. Restaurants prefer to eat freshly slaughtered meat.

Because of this, prices for restaurant purchases are significantly lower than those for retail markets. Retail buyers expect to pay between $6.00 and $8.00 per pound.

How much does it cost to buy a live turkey?

The price depends largely upon where you purchase your bird. You'll probably save more money by purchasing a young bird over one that is older.

Young turkeys weigh around 3 pounds while mature ones range from 4 to 7 pounds. Turkeys purchased from hatcheries start off life weighing just 1 lb.

You should also consider how far away you're willing to travel to pick up your new pet. Most people don't mind driving for several hours to visit a farm.

But if you plan to take your turkey home via airplane, you will need to factor in additional expenses such as fuel surcharges.

Also, read: How Do You Use Garlic For Chickens For Better Performance

What are the advantages of turkey production?

There are many reasons why someone might want to become involved in raising turkeys. Here are a few benefits:

  • Turkey farming provides a steady source of income. Many families rely on these animals for supplemental income during times of economic hardship.

  • Raising turkeys offers opportunities for personal growth. If you enjoy working outdoors, there's plenty of opportunities to develop skills related to animal husbandry.

  • Turkey farming allows you to help feed hungry children. There are currently about 40 million kids who suffer from malnutrition worldwide.

         One way to combat hunger is to raise chickens or other livestock at home.

         By doing so, you not only provide yourself with nutritious protein sources, but you also give back to society.

  • Turkey farming helps preserve our environment. When we consume chicken products, we contribute to pollution problems caused by factory-farmed birds. We also waste valuable resources when we throw away uneaten portions of our meals.

  The disadvantage of turkey farms

While turkey farming has numerous positive aspects, it isn't always easy. In fact, most people find it challenging to produce healthy, happy pets. Below are three major disadvantages associated with turkey farming:

  • Turkeys have high maintenance requirements. Unlike dogs and cats, which tend to be relatively low-maintenance creatures, turkeys demand lots of attention.

         Their diets must be carefully monitored. And because they grow quickly, they often outgrow their housing facilities before reaching maturity.


How to start turkey farming

turkey farming

 Turkey farm

If you decide to get into turkey farming, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1) Start Small. Don't try to build a large operation right away. Instead, begin with a single pair of hens or roosters. These can easily be housed together in a coop. As time goes on, add another hen or two until you've got enough room for all four birds.

2) Choose Healthy Birds. Buy chicks that look well-fed and appear lively. Avoid sickly-looking birds. Also, make sure that the eggs laid by each hen aren't cracked or broken. This indicates poor egg quality.

3) Provide Plenty of Space. The size of your flock determines what kind of space you'll require.

For example, if you intend to house six hens, you'll likely need an area measuring approximately 12 feet x 10 feet. You may even need more than one pen depending upon the number of hens you purchase.

4) Keep Your Chickens Safe. Make certain that your poultry enclosure includes protection against predators like foxes and coyotes. It's important to secure your pens using sturdy fencing materials.

Also, ensure that your flocks remain safe inside their enclosures throughout the night.

5) Feed Them Well. To avoid health issues, make sure that your birds receive adequate nutrition.

How many months does it take a turkey to mature?

Turkeys reach sexual maturity between 6 - 8 weeks old. They continue growing through adulthood, although this process takes longer as compared to smaller animals such as rabbits.

Adult turkeys typically weigh around 3 pounds. However, these weights vary greatly based on breed and gender. Male turkeys usually weigh less than females due to their larger breast muscles.

It usually takes about seven months for them to reach their mature state of 15 to 25 pounds.

How do they cull turkey?

Culling is done at different times during the year. Generally speaking, young male turkeys are killed first. Then older males are slaughtered. Finally, female turkeys are selected for breeding purposes.

What happens after slaughter?

After being harvested from the farm, turkeys go straight to processing plants where they're butchered. Afterward, meat processors sell the processed product to grocery stores across America.

Turkey care and feeding

Feeding turkeys requires careful planning because they must consume enough calories to grow quickly yet not gain too much weight. If you want to maximize profits, you'll need to know which nutrients your birds need at specific stages of growth.

For example, when feeding baby chicks, you might use cornmeal or wheat bran mixed with soybean meal. When growing larger birds, however, you'll have to provide protein supplements along with vitamins and minerals.

  If you choose to raise your own chickens, you won't be able to offer them supplemental nutrition until after they reach maturity.

Chickens naturally produce all the necessary nutrients needed during egg production. Once they stop laying eggs, though, they begin consuming high-protein diets.

When raising turkeys, you'll need to supplement their diet with vitamin D3 and calcium. Both these elements help build strong bones and teeth. In addition, turkeys benefit greatly from having access to greens throughout their lives.

Greens contain many essential nutrients including iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, selenium, molybdenum, iodine, chromium, vanadium, nickel, cobalt, boron, fluorine, silicon, and sodium.

Can turkey eat chicken feed?

Yes! Turkeys can easily digest most types of foodstuffs, especially chicken feeds. The only thing you should keep in mind is that if you give them any type of grain, they will become obese very fast.

This problem occurs because grains cause an increase in body fat levels. Therefore, you shouldn’t feed turkeys anything other than grass hay.

Can turkey Poult eat chick starters?

Poults require a special diet called pelleted starter. Pelleted starters come in two forms – one containing ground-up pellets made out of poultry byproducts and another consisting of finely chopped pieces of vegetables.

These ingredients make it easier for babies to absorb nutrients like proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins. You may also add some fresh fruits and veggies to the mix.

Also. read: 20 Common Chicken Predators, Mode of Attack and Prevention.

How long do turkey poults need starter feed?

turkey poult

Baby turkey (poult)

Turkeys usually start eating solid foods around three weeks old. At this point, they don’t need as much nutritional support as younger animals.

However, you still need to ensure that they get adequate amounts of energy and protein. To accomplish this goal, you can either feed them whole grains such as oats or grind up commercial pellet mixes into small bits.

Do I Need to Feed Turkey Starter Food?

You definitely need to feed turkey poults starter food. It helps them develop properly before being introduced to regular meals.

As mentioned earlier, there are different kinds of starter feeds available on the market.

Some companies even sell premixed formulas designed specifically for young Turks. Regardless of what kind you decide to buy, always follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

Otherwise, you could end up harming your bird instead of helping him thrive.

what age can turkey poults go outside? 

Most people think that turkeys poults cannot survive outdoors without protection. While this isn’t true, you should never let your birds roam free. They can suffer serious injuries due to predators and harsh weather conditions.

Also, wild turkeys tend to wander away from home frequently. So, unless you plan to relocate them every day, you should confine them indoors. Is it safe to leave baby turkeys alone?

It depends on how well you house your flock. If you have a large yard where you can provide plenty of space for your birds, then yes, it is perfectly fine to allow them to run around freely.

But if you live in a smaller apartment complex, you might want to consider keeping them inside until they reach adulthood.

What not to feed turkeys?

There are certain things that you absolutely must avoid feeding turkeys. For example, you should never offer them table scraps.

In addition, you should steer clear of dog kibble, since these products contain chemicals that can be harmful to their health. Finally, you should stay away from raw meat, which contains bacteria that can harm your birds.

Is it Safe to Give Baby Turkeys Milk?

While milk does contain important nutrients, it doesn't necessarily benefit baby turkeys.

Instead, experts recommend offering them water mixed with molasses or honey. This sweet liquid will help keep them hydrated while providing essential minerals.

baby turkeys feeding

Poults feeding

Can I Use Commercial Poultry Byproduct Meal Mixes?

Commercial poultry meal mixtures are formulated to meet specific nutrient requirements. Therefore, they're perfect for growing chickens but aren’t suitable for use with baby turkeys.

The best way to give your little ones a healthy boost is to prepare homemade diets using organic chicken parts.

Can I sell my turkey once he's grown?

Yes! Many families enjoy eating homegrown poultry. However, there are some important things to keep in mind before selling your turkey.

First, make sure you understand what state regulations require regarding slaughtering animals.

Some states allow only licensed processors to perform this task. Others may limit sales to local residents.

Finally, other states prohibit any sale whatsoever. Check with your county extension agent about current laws.

Second, check with your veterinarian to ensure that your turkey has been vaccinated against avian influenza. This disease can cause serious illness or death among domestic fowl.

It is highly contagious and easily spread through contact with infected droppings. The best way to prevent infection is to vaccinate your flock regularly.

Third, remember that most states regulate the size of turkeys allowed on farms. These limits vary widely depending upon location. To find out whether your area allows large turkeys, call your county extension office.

They usually maintain an online database listing each state's rules.

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