Can Turkeys Live With Hens.....and other Rescue Turkey FAQs

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Christmas Turkey Rescue

Turkeys and Hens Together

Turkeys get live quite happily alongside other poultry, but you shouldn’t plan on introducing a single turkey to a flock of hens/ducks/geese. They behave and communicate very differently to hens so should be kept with other turkeys. As with hens, we recommend a minimum flock size of three, so that if anything should happen to one of them, you are not left with one lonely turkey. Turkeys will usually stick together, as will the hens and do their own thing separately from one another.

Chickens carry a parasite called Histomoniasis (Blackhead). This can cause fatal liver damage to turkeys, whilst hens remain relatively unaffected. If you keep turkeys and chickens together, you should worm them every six weeks. Blackhead can live for years in the soil (even earthworms can carry it) so even if you no longer have chickens, you should take precautions if you are keeping turkeys in the same area. Flubenvet is the recommended wormer and the easiest way to deliver this is to use Marriages Layer’s Pellets and feed the whole flock for a week with this and nothing else.

For more information about Blackhead, please go to: https://www.nadis.org.uk/disease-a-z/game-birds/histomoniasis-blackhead-disease-in-game-birds/

Diet and Exercise

These turkeys are five months old and have been raised for meat. This means they grow quickly and can run into problems with their weight if their diet is not carefully kept in check. They will eat and eat and become so large they can develop joint and organ problems.

Your turkeys will love a wander around the garden just as they hens do, and they should be encouraged to do this to help keep their weight down! They will enjoy foraging for insects and grazing on grass and berries. They also love apples, plums, sweetcorn, sunflower seeds and cabbages. Be careful not to offer too many treats though!

Housing

Turkeys will perch and roost like hens do, but meat birds are often too large to do this. You need to be prepared to accommodate them separately from the hen flock. They need dust-free bedding just as hens do in a draught-free area. Don’t be surprised if they choose to sleep outside. You should have a predator-proof run with a solid roof to protect from predators and infection passed on from wild birds (such as Avian Flu). Their bedding should be kept clean and dry and droppings removed regularly to prevent disease. They are much heavier birds so need a deeper layer of bedding to prevent problems such as Bumble foot. A ground level house would be best, or one with only a very short and shallow ramp and obviously a much bigger door.

 

Rehoming

We often rescue turkeys destined for the table just before Christmas but we do not rehome them over the festive period. Priority is be given to established homes with a single lonely turkey needing company. They will start laying in the Spring- usually two or three eggs a week which are much larger than hens eggs with very hard shells. You may find the turkeys become broody and will need to be moved off the eggs to ensure they are eating, drinking and getting exercise. We cannot guarantee the sex of the rescue turkeys, although most are likely to be female. As a rescue organisation often asked to assist with rehoming hatchlings, we STRONGLY discourage backyard breeding of poultry. Breeding of these rescue turkeys is STRICTLY PROHIBITED and you will be asked to agree and adhere to this if you apply to rehome them.

The turkeys are usually in East Lothian but a small amount can be transported to other rehoming points. We cannot guarantee availability in all areas. To apply, keep an eye on our facebook page and complete a rehoming form on our website when they are available. In the free text section where you are asked to give details of your set-up, please start the message ‘TURKEY’ and give details of your experience with turkeys and of your current flock and accommodation.

We reply to these applications in the New Year, so we appreciate your patience. Please do not apply for turkeys during other times of the year unless we advertise them for rehoming.

Get in touch

If you would like to get in touch with us for any reason then please fill in our contact form or message us via our Facebook page.

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