View Full Version : Let's talk turkey! - Photos added
Nov. 17, 2009, 04:03 PM
Need advice on how to feed/house/contain a live turkey.
I was checking out the local Craigslist last week (I really need to stay off there) and came across an ad for 6 month old heritage turkeys. Now, the guy was selling them for Thanksgiving dinners, but I decided I wanted one for a pet. I mean, I love my goose and my ducks, so I should love a turkey too, right? Wrong!
Bought turkey, put turkey in duck/goose pen, dog promptly chases turkey (but never ducks or goose), turkey flies over fence and proceeds to run across my five acres (terrifying the horses) and up the road. That sucker can run fast! Catch the turkey a quarter mile later, take very heavy, hissing, pissed off turkey to neighbor's and have her clip his wings. Carry very heavy and feeling heavier, still pissed off turkey home and put him back in the poultry pen. Still there next morning. Great! Half hour later he's in the back yard playing hide and seek with the arborvitae. Catch turkey and put in the large goat pen fenced with cattle panels. Turkey nails me with his wing during release. Nose not broken, but feels like it. Hank and Hayden think the turkey is great fun. They chase turkey around trying to head butt him. Feathers everywhere. Things settle down, turkey is still in with goats but he just keeps pacing the fenceline looking for a way out. Does he need a companion? Should he just be the main course next week?
Any help would be appreciated. Turkey's name was going to be Tom, but then I thought Ben (since Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird), but for now he's just that *#$^@ turkey. :D
Nov. 17, 2009, 04:13 PM
If you name him, then he cannot be on th dinner table without having everyone in tears.
Nov. 17, 2009, 08:16 PM
You should probably name him supper but that *#$^@ turkey works too. You can't keep a single turkey - they need other turkeys around them. They also don't make good pets - too aggressive and territorial. We had a few one year when i was a kid - damned things chased everyone and everything, and we were glad when they got the axe. Dad never allowed Mom to experiment with slightly less than traditional fowl after that. Oh and turkeys climb on everything, particularly shiny cars and trucks. They scratch the paintwork all to ratshit and crap all over the vehicles. Turkeys are best kept wrapped in plastic in a freezer, as long as said freezer ain't mine.
Nov. 17, 2009, 08:32 PM
Years ago my uncle who lived out in the country got some turkey babies, the second they were big enough they all flew the coop, except for nasty Tom Turkey Sr. Tom Sr ended up in the freezer after attacking my uncle one time too many (Uncle was a great shooter). The rest of the turkeys could be seen for years roosting in trees or dancing just out of reach. The turkeys never bothered anyone and gradually went bye-bye.
Nov. 17, 2009, 08:55 PM
I am a vegetarian and hate the thought of any animal on the dinner table....any animal but turkeys. Nasty little buggers. I was terrorized by one once and it haunts me to this day.... Anyone writing on here from GTA (Greate Toronto Area) and heard of Ehrlicks? (sp?) Gone, but not forgotten, especially his turkeys.
Nov. 17, 2009, 09:13 PM
Thanks, DH has been bugging me for months to get a turkey. I have been holding a firm NO. I am so reading him these responses when he calls in tonight from his business trip ;)
Nov. 17, 2009, 09:59 PM
Turkey are nothing like fowl. Geese and ducks can be fun...unless you get one of those Hell Raised Killer Geese.
But turkeys...well, they're not even like chickens. They have their own things going on and are usually very antsy without being around their own kind.
I'd either return it or process it.
Nov. 17, 2009, 10:59 PM
Maybe this is the exception that proves the rule-I went to buy hay from a local farmer, and while we were looking at the hay I heard a funny noise in back of me, and there was a big copper-colored turkey, the kind that is all feathers-the farmer said "oh he just wants to be petted"-turns out he was their pet and was really sweet. I never saw one that close before. He did let me pet him.
Nov. 18, 2009, 01:03 AM
First off- I love turkeys and am so sorry now that I don't have any. I liked mine better than my ducks or chickens. Turkeys are special, and some are more aggressive than others. Toms tend to be more aggressive, hens not so much. Breed will also impact aggressiveness. My hens were Naragansetts and were gentle. I had a Bourbon Red tom that I sold to a breeder 'cause I was the only one he didn't attack. If you want to keep mr. turkey,find a quiet contained space, like an enclosed stall or shed. Put Mr. Turkey in it for a couple days. Ideally, this should be where he will live in the future. Feed and water in that space only and don't let him out. Turkeys love to wander and investigate. He/She may run off and/or get eaten. If Mr. Turkey is not person aggressive- and trust me you will know if he is-(in which case make him your dinner) you may decide to let him take his chances wandering around. Turkeys other than the broadbreasted varieties, are smart funny and interesting. PM me if you like. PS- you CAN keep a single turkey and females will hatch out chicken eggs for you. They will also call in wild turkeys.
Nov. 18, 2009, 12:56 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone. Looks like I should have done my homework before bringing Benny home. I'll file this under the "live and learn" section of my life. Things have settled down somewhat. At least the goats are leaving him alone. I'm going to section him off a corner of the goat pen and give him a "turkey door" so the goats can't get in. At least then I'll know he's getting his grain and not the goats. I put an old 4x6 across a corner for him to perch on (only 6" off the ground so he can't get up on it and over the fence. He came running right for it as soon as I put it up. Jumped on it and promptly fell off! He's never attacked me, has just hissed at me if I get too close and while I'm carrying him back from his escapes. I was petting him last night while he was napping.
Nov. 18, 2009, 01:01 PM
If you name him, then he cannot be on th dinner table without having everyone in tears.
Not so! The 2 daughters named our turkeys Thanks, Giving, Lurky, and Gravy. :D Two of them are on the menu next week.
Elder daughter (8yo) is much looking forward to not feeding the mean toms any longer -- no tears around here for their approaching demise.
(As an aside, did you know you can train turkeys to leave you alone with a dressage whip? WAit, I mean carrot stick. [grin] We've raised not only organic, but NH organic turkeys for the holidays!!!)
This was our first foray into turkey farming (with our specific DEADlines of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners). It will not recur, we think. Those are some really nasty birds! But oh my, how we love out hens and pet rooster! :yes:
OP, hope your turkey settles down and behaves, or else tastes real good. :cool:
Nov. 18, 2009, 01:29 PM
We had a turkey (once - when I was a kid) He was white and free range. Toughest old thing ever...quite the learning experience for us kids from beginning to END
Nov. 18, 2009, 02:52 PM
I have owned two VERY friendly toms. Both would let you pet them and the second one actually would let you pick him up and carry him around (of couse he was a little heavy to do that much).
The first was an Eastern and we just turned him loose and he stayed in the yard. He was Butch and I brought home a stray dog (will never do that again) and she mauled him. We had to shoot him... VERY sad day on our farm.
The second was..... <drumroll please> Butch The Second! Yes we're very original with our names. He came with a hen who was very skittish but he was sooo sweet! I think he was a Bronze something-or-other.
Here's Butch The Second:
http://i285.photobucket.com/albums/ll68/mlranchtx/Turkey/078.jpg (The turkey's on the right;))
Nov. 18, 2009, 03:52 PM
Really good looking bird, mlranchtx. The Turkey ain't bad either! ;):lol:
Nov. 19, 2009, 06:23 PM
Turkeys can actually make neat pets. We currently have 4 - all heritage breeds, a Miniature White tom, a Royal Palm hen, and a hen and tom Blue Slate. We got the Palm and the Miniature white at a day old, and the blue slates at a couple of weeks old. Once they were large enough to not need lights, they were turned loose - they follow us all over the farm (it's kind of a hoot - Hubby and I walking up the pasture followed, in no particular order, by 3 dogs, a cat, 4 turkeys 3 guinea hens, whatever goat(s) may be around, a mini donkey and two horses., but otherwise they are always to be found right around the yard/barnyard. Quite the parade for sure :lol: Anyway, back to pets. Ours roost in a big tree in the back yard, but if you want to keep them fenced, you must either clip (one wing only - clip both and they can still fly by the way) or cover the pen. The White (who's name is Tom Tom, for the thrumming noise he makes) and the Palm are actually much tamer than the blue slates, whether that's due to the breed or the age we got them I couldn't say. Both of them can be picked up, petted on and loved on indefinitely. ALL of the birds come running to the back door the instant they detect signs of life in the morning. Other than a bit of scratch tossed out in the evening when we feed the goats, they also haven't been 'fed' since they were about two months old either - they fend for themselves. This winter of course, they'll be fed (along with the pasture raised geese).
Years ago I had a garden variety bronze turkey for a pet that came when I whistled, climbed up in my lap, and gave hugs - so yes, the right turkey can make a really neat pet!:D
Nov. 19, 2009, 06:31 PM
I got 2 turkeys when I ordered a "hatchery surprise" last spring- we hand raise them with the ducks and chickens, and they did well- a little temperemental and not the smartest of birds- but not mean or aggressive...I would have turkeys again, but only ones I hand raise- the tom was starting to strut for the hen alot though, and he was beginning to puff up at my preschool children- so we decided to sell them- actually on CL,lol... They went to a home looking for an established pair for breeding purposes... :) Frank and Peter will stay happily together!
Nov. 19, 2009, 06:41 PM
I've raised turkeys in the past - hatched out many a bird, and the best pets are the ones you hand raise. I had two hens and a tom that were pets, come right up to you and sit in your lap. They were Bourban Reds. Never tried to raise the broad breasted type, just too fragile and can't breed without help.
Keep Tom in a quiet place and get him a friend, he will settle down. Turkeys can live a LONG time but not as long as geese, but still much longer than chickens do normally. They will eat anything pretty much and once used to "home" will free range and put themselves up at night in "their" pen.
They generally don't take kindly to being chased - lol..and can beat you to death with those wings and watch out for the spurs on the toms, they can grow up to 3 inches long and cut like a knife. If you get another turkey lurkey, get a hen. two toms will fight and that's not pretty.
Nov. 19, 2009, 07:43 PM
My neighbor came with me when I went to get my turkey (just for the ride she said) and ended up buying a male and a female. The first night (Sunday) her min pin got at the male turkey and according to the neighbor he doesn't look like he's going to make it. So, she's going to bring the female over to my place so Benny can have a friend. He's got a favorite corner where he sleeps so I'll put the "turkey pen" up there this weekend. He lets me pet him when he's lying down, but still hisses at the dog. Can't say I blame him. Didn't know about clipping both wings being wrong. No wonder he was still able to fly out of the duck pen!
Don't know what breed he is. He's white with black and brown/bronze markings. Very pretty! Wish he would spread his feathers out so I can get a photo.
Nov. 19, 2009, 08:03 PM
I had a pair of Bourbon Reds, and just loved them, they followed me around, got along fine with dogs and cats. After the hen was Murdered (long story) I gave Sampson to a friend with lots of other birds, he would still come running to see me after about 6 months. I would have one again. they were very attractive too.
Nov. 19, 2009, 09:49 PM
I love turkeys! We have 3, 1 bronze female, 1 bronze tom and 1 royal palm tom.
The female I raised from a day old and she is FANTASTIC! She seems to think she is a cross between a dog and a human. She roosts with the dogs during the day, eats out of the dog food bowl, follows us around and takes walks with my father when he comes out for vacation (something he LOVES to tell his friends about when he goes back to the city), she has even been known to let herself inside the house when the door happens to be left ajar (nothing like coming home and seeing a turkey nesting on your living room rug).
The males I got a bit older (around 10 days) and they aren't as friendly. They still follow us around but they don't really enjoy being pet and the bronze tom seems to have a bit of an attitude (fluffing up and hissing...he's a big fat bluffer!). BTW- their names are "Butterball" (butter for short), "Spice" and "Mason".
Nov. 20, 2009, 12:00 PM
Years ago I went to look at some young TB's that a breeder/rehabber had. When we got to the barn and got out of the car a very large Tom turkey decided to come running full tilt at us from the owners yard, with her in hot pursuit! She just wanted to let us know he was friendly and that if we just stayed still for a second he would check us over and be on his way. Well that worked for me and my mom, but my trainer is in a wheelchair........ he really liked her wheelchair. That turkey would not leave her alone the entire time we were there. He fluffed up and strutted around for her, kept making strange bird calls at her. When we were all done I was lifting her chair into the back of the truck and I swear that poor birds heart just broke that I was taking it. Odd, odd bird that was!
Nov. 20, 2009, 12:10 PM
Do any of you raise chickens in addition to turkey?
If so - have you had any problems with Blackhead?
Thanks - love the stories!!
Nov. 20, 2009, 12:55 PM
Never realized that turkeys were such loveable creatures!
Nov. 24, 2009, 02:50 PM
Some photos of Ben....