Turkeys are wonderful creatures and rearing them is fun and a delight. Not only is rearing these birds quite profitable, they are friendly and make adorable pets.
It is however important that you have all the right information about them before going ahead to add them to your backyard poultry.
Do turkeys need a coop? Turkeys do not need coops but I advise you provide one for them. Domestic turkeys like the heritage breed were domesticated from the wild turkeys and most of their natural instinct is still embedded in their head.
Turkeys would use their coop while still young but when they are like 8 weeks above, it would be an every night chore to make them sleep in their coop.
They prefer to be out in the open or sleeping in trees.
They are quite adaptable to different weather conditions so sleeping outside isn’t a problem for them.
They feel safer when they know they are not locked or bound somewhere.
You should however make sure a coop is available so you can make them sleep in it during harsh winter.
It all depends on how bad winter gets in your environment.
Do turkeys make nests?
Yes, turkeys make nests. Both wild and domestic turkeys make nests after mating.
After a hen has successfully mated, it goes about looking for an appropriate location to make its nest.
They prefer to nest at the base of trees, tall grasses, weedy base of the fence and sometimes the open hayfields.
They make their nests by building shallow depressions and filling it around with dead leaves and plant materials.
If you have enough grasses and brushes in your yard, your turkeys won’t go outside of the fence to lay eggs.
They would make their nest within the yard.
Do turkeys need nesting boxes?
To get the best out of your laying hens, you need to provide nesting boxes for them.
To be honest though, only one out of three turkeys may use the nesting boxes.
Turkeys prefer to lay eggs in their preferred locations.
It may be quite difficult to make it use a nesting box unless it is caged.
You can however influence the hen’s decision by making the nesting box attractive, keeping it open, neat and on ground at all times.
Related: Want to know everything about raising turkeys?
Do turkeys live alone or in groups?
Turkeys are social creatures, so they do not live alone.
They live in groups or to put it right, flocks. The female turkeys usually form a flock with their female offspring.
They stay together, moving, foraging and living together.
Other hens with their offspring could also join this flock and become a bigger flock. A flock could be up to 50 and more.
The hens who haven’t hatched any chick could form a flock too.
The male turkeys also form their own flock, moving together.
They do not move with the females.
Their flock could be by age. Jakes, which are young male turkeys form a flock while the older ones form theirs too.
When getting a turkey as pet, it is advisable to get more than one, as they like to be around themselves.
What kind of shelter do turkeys need?
Turkeys naturally love to be outdoors.
So they prefer to sleep and roost outside, preferably on trees. You should however discourage your poults from sleeping outside as they are still weak and fragile.
Turkeys shouldn’t begin sleeping outside of a coop until they are about 8-12 weeks old.
For turkeys older than that, their shelter should be a roosting area with a roof outside.
The roosting area should be well protected from predators.
Turkeys love to perch so the roosting area should be ideal for flying up into at night.
If you have more than one turkey then you should make a set of roosts of the same height.
Different heights could make them fight for the top positions.
Roosts should be made of wood and staked to the floor to keep the roosting place from moving.
It should be roofed so as to protect your turkeys from winter and hot weather, and properly ventilated.
A light weight fiber glass or metal panel can be used for the roof.
The roosts should not be too far from the ground because the more they grow, the more difficult it will be for them to fly so high.
Flying down from a high place could also cause harm to their legs.
They could develop bumblefoot.
You can put wood shavings on the floor to absorb the moisture from their droppings and to make their flight down easy for their legs.
For shelter, your turkeys also need a good fence.
It helps keep them in and keep predators out.
The fence should be at least 4 feet high and flushed to the ground to keep predators from making holes under to pass.
You may have to clip their wings to keep them from flying out of safety.
Do turkeys sleep in a coop?
Given the chance, your turkeys would not sleep in a coop.
They prefer to sleep outside. On the roof, trees etc.
Your poults will sleep in a coop but as they grow older, their natural instincts will kick in and they will prefer the outdoors.
You would have to chase them and put them in the coop yourselves at night.
You should however keep the coop clean and open at all times. It may influence their decision.
For their protection however, you should make a roosting place with roof available for them outside.
Can you raise chickens and turkeys together?
Yes, you can raise chickens and turkeys together.
Caring for them isn’t all that different. The chickens can eat turkey feed without it causing them harm.
They can also forage together with no problems.
You should however separate poults from chicks.
Chicks are more active and strong. They could injure the poults or kill them.
Separate them into different brooders. But once they are old enough, they can be raised together.
The poults and chicks also have different nutrional requirements. The poults need more protein.
This is another reason poults and chicks can’t be raised together.
Should turkeys be locked up in a coop at night?
If you live in an environment where predators are many, your turkeys need to be locked up in their coop at night.
It isn’t cruelty, it is for their safety.
It isn’t wise to spend a lot of money feeding and caring for them, only for them to be eaten by predators.
Just make sure you open the coop in the morning early enough, so they can come out, free range and enjoy fresh air.
Turkeys love to be outside so they do not need coops that much, except your environment is full of predators and your fence can’t keep them away.
Make a roosting place for your turkeys outside and they will thank you for it.
Turkeys make nests and they search for perfect spots before making them.
You can also provide nesting boxes and encourage the hens to use them.
You should lock your turkeys in their coop at night if predators can get into your yard.
Turkeys are lovely creatures and I hope you have fun caring for them.